Looting Cronies and the Making of DHS

also posted to ePluribus Media

ePluribusMedia's consideration of the post-Katrina era has good company this week.

A look forward by our Journal piece on What Will Happen to FEMA?

Spurred by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, both the House and Senate have drafted bills with the same goals: removing FEMA from the grip of DHS and restoring its independent agency status.
takes context from recent commentaries

These should elicit a sense of unease that some things have gone really wrong! Impending changes to these institutions that protect and rescue us that are coming down the pipe, do so in an atmosphere of paranoia and denial or delusion. Those planning the changes must do so with the bigger picture in mind.

Retrospectives of DHS formation and its historic Katrina-dysfunction that are linked from Rolling Stone and Washington Post, below the fold, may cause the revision of preconceptions that seem firm on this side of the fold. Though not reversed entirely, it is warning that at least one notion of mine has shifted with this reading.

The kleptocratic reflex of those who control American government is evident in the story The Rolling Stone rolled out as Looting Homeland Security

Katrina may have been a natural disaster -- but President Bush created the bungled response by gutting FEMA and turning the nation's security over to corporate cronies and for-profit contractors

And the Washington Post published the second in a series covering a history of DHS with bright backlighting by the 'catastrophic response' to Hurricane Katrina. The first in WaPo's series, Department's Mission Was Undermined From Start probes the Caesarian birth of DHS following 9/11,

...Chertoff said he concluded that Ridge's pet project would be a "disaster," further dividing a fragmented DHS into regional silos. But Chertoff agreed with Ridge that DHS needed to be much readier for the next catastrophe.

"I wasn't happy about where we were on preparedness," he said.

while today's installment (Brown's Turf Wars Sapped FEMA's Strength) opens with a tantalizing suggestion that Michael Brown was not as clueless as imagined in Katrina's wake.
In a seven-page memo, the new department's undersecretary for emergency preparedness and response told Ridge that his organizational plan would cripple America's ability to respond to disasters.

The memo, like so many that flew around Washington during the largest government reshuffling in decades, involved turf: Ridge had decided to move some of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's preparedness functions to an office less than one-fifteenth its size. The writer warned that the shift would make a mockery of FEMA's new motto, "A Nation Prepared," and would "fundamentally sever FEMA from its core functions," "shatter agency morale," and "break longstanding, effective and tested relationships with states and first responder stakeholders."

The inevitable result, he wrote, would be "an ineffective and uncoordinated response" to a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.

The second article gives me pause despite Brown's email begging "Can I quit now?"..."Can I go home? since WaPo details a great deal of reason for the resignation seeming to be implied in the FEMA Director's infamous rhetoric.

Whether or not he was clueless, it's not Michael Brown making the plans on which we'll base future American emergency response policy.

We citizens must discipline ourselves to such substantial reading as we understand the designs impending change for structures that are supposed to both protect us in DHS' mandate against man-made havoc and supposed to rescue us from the second-thought natural disasters that were once FEMA's specialty.

In light of ongoing and overt agency budget-looting at the hands of Bush Administration cronies, we should be absolutely sure that any plan finalized by amendment of Chertoff's 2SR also accounts for

  • the DHS chief's blindness to existing exercises and scenarios foretelling the catastrophe Katrina delivered;

  • Heritage Foundation's ideology-bound exclusion of human death and suffering or the continuity of government services from the shortlist of vested federal interests.

Whatever foundation produced the catastrophic response to Katrina or the narrow considerations flawing DHS 2.0/2SR, we must be sure that the literally fatal prospects forwarded by cronyist elites and ideologues don't establish long-term institutions just as their culture of corruption implodes from the weight of blind, gluttonous self-interest.

Be sure to do some substantial reading this holiday season. Then speak out since it may just save your life!


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