Friday, September 09, 2005


Pork Does Kill....

The Washington Post explores an aspect of the Katrina aftermath that Dick Morris raised earlier this week: A lot of federal money that went to Louisiana that could have -- maybe should have -- been used for things such as levee support instead went for more prosaic pork projects: "[O]ver the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large."

(Rather than make the population point, the Post could have also noted that California -- between, mudslides, earthquakes and fires -- is hardly at a loss for potential natural disasters.)

Without addressing the Bush-Blanco-Nagin responsibility issue, it seems to me that there's a strong case to be made that if federal money coming to Louisiana was a problem, but a potentially surmountable one. Money was there, but apparently not going to the most vulnerable aspect of its signature city's infrastructure.

Applicable lesson: Pork may be "the other white meat," but too much of it can still leave your heart vulnerable.

One last point on the "responsibility" question: The 9/11 Commission chairman spoke to Reuters this week in pre 9/11 anniversary interviews. They also discussed the Katrina response in light of the work on assessing how government is supposed to collaborate.

Kean raised an issue that had been bothering me for a while. Would assessing the structual integrity of infrastructure such as New Orleans' levees be something that the Department of Homeland Security would do as part of its mission -- given how relatively easy it might be for a terrorist to use, say, a lower level hurricane as cover to blow up the levees.

Well, according to one of the 9/11 chairs, DHS was supposed to do something like that:

Kean said the Department of Homeland Security, a sprawling bureaucracy set up after the 2001 attacks, failed to produce two mandated risk assessments to U.S. transportation and infrastructure including levees such as the ones that failed after Katrina, swamping New Orleans.

"One report was due April 1. The other was due in early summer. Neither report has been done," he said. Homeland Security officials were not immediately available to comment.

I think it's fair to ask where those risk assessments are.

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