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Editorial: Katrina review/Give the job to the 9/11 group

Could not agree with this more, from the Star Tribune editorial page...here are snippets:

"The White House and congressional Republicans are resisting mightily the idea of creating an independent commission to examine the failures in preparation for and responses to Hurricane Katrina. What we don't understand is why. If President Bush was sincere in his pledge last week to identify and fix the weaknesses Katrina revealed, an independent commission would seem the best way to proceed, partly because it would avoid overt politicization of the process. Indeed, we know just the group for the job: the 9/11 Commission. It did a masterful job and is still functioning unofficially; what it found bears closely on what went wrong when Katrina hit.

Indeed, Thomas Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey and commission chairman, said last week that the poor response to Katrina by all levels of government and the communication difficulties that developed "magnify the flaws in our preparation and emergency response system" that the commission identified in its examination of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "With a natural disaster or terrorism, the human toll is the same," he said. "This tragedy should heighten our efforts and raise the priority level to help insure the safety of our citizens..."

So in the commission you have a highly respected, bipartisan group with great expertise on preparing for and responding to emergencies -- and which already has identified, from its study of 9/11, many of the weaknesses that resurfaced in dealing with Katrina. It would be beyond folly to throw that professionalism and expertise aside in favor of a politicized congressional investigation or an administration-run review. Neither would have the credibility the 9/11 Commission would bring to the effort. Neither would also be likely to contribute as much to the vital effort of truly getting the nation ready for the next catastrophe.

Minnesota's Sen. Norm Coleman insists that evaluating what went wrong is a job for Congress because of its oversight responsibilities. He has a point, but that congressional role has been severely compromised by increased partisanship. As Sen. Robert Byrd rightly laments, members of the Senate, once fiercely protective of Senate prerogatives, no longer have any sense of institutional loyalty and independence; their loyalty is to the party, and if they are Republican, that loyalty extends currently to this White House and its protection.

Thus any congressional review of what happened when Katrina hit is likely to be far less thorough, less objective and less credible than if the job goes to an independent commission -- preferably the 9/11 Commission."
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