The endlessly underrated Knight-Ridder has an important article out which places a great deal of the blame for the laggard response to Katrina on Michael Chertoff.
The crux of the article is a point we and many other outlets have been reporting for some time — that DHS Secretary Chertoff didn’t declare Katrina an ‘Incident of National Significance’ until late on Tuesday August 30th, almost two days after the hurricane hit.
That’s the administrative trip wire that sets off the standing government plans for a coordinated national response to natural or man-made disasters.
As Jonathan Landay, et al. explain, the now-reviled and discarded Michael Brown only had limited authority to act prior to Chertoff’s determination on the night of the 30th.
Chertoff was the one in charge of the response before that.
Yet documents obtained by KR suggest that Chertoff “may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department” under the National Response Plan promulgated by the administration earlier this year.
There’s a lot of stuff in this piece. And the leaks behind the story suggest much afoot.