Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Morning copy 9.13.2005


Acting FEMA Chief David "Duct Tape" Paulison has a great deal of disaster experience, WaPo, most likely that is the reason why he replaced relative novice (before 2004's hurricanes) Mike Brown.

FEMA's next big test: handing out a huge amount of contracts and making sure the money is spent wisely, Washington Post A01 story. Second graf:

FEMA's track record in managing much smaller amounts of money has raised concerns. It made millions of dollars in questionable payments to South Florida residents after Hurricane Frances last year, investigators found, in part because the agency's contractors had hired inspectors who lacked training or oversight. A recent audit by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general questioned whether FEMA's acquisition workforce was qualified.

This would be one reason, among countless more, to have a 9/11 style commission to review our disaster footing. Another reason:

Check out this byline (in this story) in the Los Angeles Times: Nicole Gaouette, Alan C. Miller, Mark Mazzetti, Doyle McManus, Josh Meyer and Kevin Sack. The Master Plan:

When it was unveiled amid fanfare in January, the Department of Homeland Security's National Response Plan promised "vastly improved coordination among federal, state, local and tribal organizations to help save lives" from storms, floods, earthquakes or terrorist assaults.

Hurricane Katrina turned out to be its first real-world test — but the plan broke down soon after the monster winds blew in.

This is a massive and important story, the LA Times entry into some great work by Newsweek, Time, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times. There is "blame game" here, and a chronology, and so much more. Another breaking point in the plan appeared when FEMA buckled:

New Orleans began to flood on Monday. It was a day later when Chertoff described the situation as urgent. By then, the city was 80% underwater.

"We're racing the clock in terms of possible injury," he said. "We're racing the clock in terms of illness, and we're racing the clock to get them food and water."

Yet, it wasn't until after 5 p.m. that evening that Chertoff declared the hurricane an "incident of national significance" — a decision that triggered a heightened response and committed the government to a long-term rescue and relief effort.

Chertoff later said he belatedly had learned the levees had broken.

Independent commission, independent commission, independent commission...

Condi, in the New York Times says that rebuilding New Orleans can be an opportunity to "deal with the problem of persistent poverty."

A weak congressional delegation may hinder Louisiana's rebuilding efforts, New York Times.

President Bush "is now looking for someone with a telegenic presence as well as proven management and leadership skills to take on the reconstruction- czar job, said an administration aide who asked not to be identified." Bloomberg.

Middle East

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has hinted that as manay as 50,000 U.S. ... I mean: Coalition troops could leave Iraq, Washington Post.

The status of the growing Gitmo hungerstrike in the Washington Post. Stats: "at least 128 detainees, 18 of whom are forcibly receiving intravenous fluids or nutrition in the prison hospital."

Former regime elements of the insurgency have good operational discipline and are tough to figure out, says Intel Chief John Negroponte, USA Today.

Anthony Shadid's book on the horribly planned invasion of Iraq in Salon.

Syria rejects U.S. accusations that it allows insurgents to cross into Iraq, al Jazeera.


The nominee's six minutes of noteless remarks is praised as smart lawyering in the NY Times.

Democratic attacks are limited on the popular nominee, Washington Post.

A few more links...

The difficult, long road to reform (if there even is such a road) in the U.N., WaPo.

eBay's spending on VOIP company called into question by the Guardian.

Mexico's trade ties with China, NY Times.


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