Executive Intelligence Review
These timelines appear in the September 16, 2005 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE:

Timeline:
Hurricane Katrina Actions,
Non-Actions

Aug. 2: National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issues its "August 2005 Update to Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook," stating that there is "a 95% to 100% chance of an above-normal 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.... Therefore, for the remainder of the season, we expect an additional 11-14 tropical storms, with 7-9 becoming hurricanes, and 3-5 of these becoming major hurricanes." It concludes: "Given the forecast that the remainder of the season will be very active, it is imperative that residents and government officials in hurricane-vulnerable communities have a hurricane preparedness plan in place."

Aug. 20: DOD/NorthCom starts planning with FEMA, about five days before Katrina makes landfall in Florida.

Aug. 22-25: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, pre-positions much of its staff and some equipment out of area, so as to be ready to move back in, after the storm hits.

Aug. 24: Tropical Depression 12 strengthens into Tropical Storm Katrina over the Central Bahamas. A hurricane warning is issued for the southeastern Florida coast by NOAA.

Aug. 25: Hurricane Katrina (Category 1) strikes Florida near the Broward/Miami Dade County line at 11:00 p.m. Six people die, and a million homes are left without power.

  • NOAA's 72-hour forecast is that Katrina may develop into "a major hurricane."

Aug. 26: Katrina grows to a Category 2 hurricane with 90 knot (103 mph) winds, predicted to veer north and west toward Mississippi and Louisiana.

  • Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declares a state of emergency.

  • Bush remains on vacation at Crawford, Tex.

Aug. 27: National Hurricane Center staff fully brief Bush Administration officials on impending dangers—including the likely breach of the levees.

  • NOAA: "Dangerous Hurricane Katrina threatens north central Gulf Coast ... Hurricane Warning issued."

  • Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour declares a state of emergency and asks President Bush to do the same and free up Federal resources.

  • Governor Blanco writes to President Bush, asking for Federal declaration of emergency and Federal assistance.

  • Bush remains on vacation at Crawford, Tex.

Aug. 27-28: NorthCom moves disaster control officers (DCOs), active-duty Army Colonels, forward to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana.

Aug. 28: National Weather Service posts this message on its website:

URGENT—WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA:

Extremely dangerous Hurricane Katrina continues to approach the Mississippi River Delta.

Devastating damage expected.

Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks ... perhaps longer. At least one half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail ... leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed.

The majority of industrial buildings will become non-functional. Partial to complete wall and roof failure is expected. All wood framed low-rising apartment buildings will be destroyed. Concrete block low-rise apartments will sustain major damage ... including some wall and roof failure.

High-rise office and apartment buildings will sway dangerously ... a few to the point of total collapse. All windows will blow out.

Airborne debris will be widespread ... and may include heavy items such as household appliances and even light vehicles. Sport utility vehicles and light trucks will be moved. The blown debris will create additional destruction. Persons ... pets ... and livestock exposed to the winds will face certain death if struck.

Power outages will last for weeks ... as most power poles will be down and transformers destroyed. Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.

The vast majority of native trees will be snapped or uprooted. Only the heartiest will remain standing ... but be totally defoliated. Few crops will remain. Livestock left exposed to the winds will be killed.

An inland hurricane wind watch is issued when sustained winds near hurricane force ... or frequent gusts at or above hurricane force ... are possible within the next 24 to 36 hours.

  • Ivor van Heerden, director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, says: "This has the potential to be as disastrous as the Asian tsunami. Tens of thousands of people could lose their lives. We could witness the total destruction of New Orleans as we know it."

  • At 10:00 p.m., NOAA issues the following: "Potentially catastrophic Hurricane Katrina continues to approach the northern Gulf Coast.... Some levees in the greater New Orleans area could be overtopped."

  • Mayor Nagin orders evacuation of the city of New Orleans.

  • Louisiana Governor Blanco writes to President Bush, requesting that he "declare an expedited major disaster for the State of Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina, a Category V Hurricane, approaches our coast south of New Orleans.... Based on the predictions we have received from the National Weather Service and other sources, I have determined that this incident will be of such severity and magnitude that effective response will be beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance will be necessary."

  • Blanco asks for Federal funds and "direct Federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property."

  • Alabama Gov. Bob Riley declares a state of emergency and asks President Bush to issue an "expedited major disaster declaration" for six Alabama counties.

  • NorthCom puts forces on alert, to be prepared for when the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA would determine what assets they need. They include Transport Command heavy aircraft (for food, water, ice); the large amphibious ship USS Bataan is moved into the region.

  • Bush remains on vacation at Crawford, Tex.; Vice President Dick Cheney is on vacation in Wyoming.

Aug. 29: At 4:00 a.m., NOAA says the following:

"Extremely dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Katrina" getting ready to come ashore in S.E. Louisiana and points east. Coastal storm surge 18-22 feet, and locally up to 28 feet. "Some levees in the greater New Orleans area could be overtopped." By 6:00 a.m. NOAA reports: "Katrina ashore, with 110+ Kt [knot] winds. Flooding 15-20 feet above normal expected.... The potential loss of life due to falling trees is a major concern ... as is freshwater flooding."

  • Waiting for five hours after Katrina makes landfall, FEMA director Michael Brown asks Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff to send 1,000 DHS employees to the region, giving them 48 hours to get there; among their duties: to "convey a positive image" about the Federal disaster operations. They are also to support rescues, establish communications, and coordinate with victims and community groups. (This is despite the fact that Brown testified to Congress in 2003, that FEMA intended to ensure that disaster teams could reach any part of the country within 12 hours, and that "disaster packages, commodities, and equipment can be delivered anywhere in the country within 24 hours of a disaster declaration.")

  • Bush takes a break from his vacation to travel to Arizona, New Mexico, and southern California, to talk about Medicare and border security. Cheney is on vacation in Wyoming.

Aug. 30: Two levees break in New Orleans and water pours in, covering 80% of the city and rising to 20 feet in some areas....

  • Governor Blanco says everyone still in New Orleans—an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people—must be evacuated. Crowds swell at the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center. Rescuers in helicopters and boats pick up hundreds of stranded people. Reports of looting emerge. About 40,000 people are in American Red Cross shelters, not including New Orleans.

  • Mississippi Governor Barbour says: "90% of the structures between the beach and the railroad in Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, and Pass Christian are totally destroyed. They're not severely damaged, they're simply not there...."

  • At some point, DHS Secretary Chertoff finally declares "an incident of national significance," triggering Federal government mechanisms for response, and activating FEMA.

  • FEMA's Brown says FEMA has 500 trucks of ice, 500 trucks of water, and 350 trucks of military MREs (meals ready to eat) set for distribution over the next ten (!) days.

  • Capt. Nora Tyson, commander of the USS Bataan, the nearest rescue ship, says she was alerted for rescue duty on Aug. 28, but not given any tasking until late on Aug. 30.... For the next five days, the ship's 600 hospital beds remain unused, and the ship is scarcely utilized.

  • Bush, in San Diego for celebrations of end of World War II, is photographed smiling and playing a guitar given to him by a popular singer. Cheney remains on vacation in Wyoming.

Aug. 31: Mayor Nagin estimates New Orleans death toll: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands." Governor Blanco says, "At first light, the devastation is greater than our worst fears." Governor Blanco asks the White House to send more people. New Orleans police are called off search-and-rescue missions to combat out-of-control looting. As of now, an estimated 52,000 people are in Red Cross shelters. An additional 25,000 are in the Superdome, where conditions worsen by the hour. An exodus from the Superdome begins, with the first buses leaving for Houston's Astrodome. Water levels stop rising in New Orleans. Engineers work to close a 500-foot gap in a failed floodwall.

  • In the morning at the New Orleans Superdome, New Orleans emergency official Terry Ebert warns that the slow evacuation there had become an "incredibly explosive situation," and complains bitterly that the FEMA is not offering enough help: "This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control...."

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt declares a Federal health emergency throughout the Gulf Coast ... sends in medical supplies and workers.

  • The Pentagon mounts one of largest search-and-rescue operations in U.S. history, sending four Navy ships with emergency supplies.

  • Air Force special operations team flies into New Orleans airport to reopen the runway.

  • "We're not getting any help yet," says Biloxi Fire Department Battalion Chief Joe Boney. "We need water. We need ice. I've been told it's coming, but we've got people in shelters who haven't had a drink since the storm."

  • "We are extremely pleased with the response of every element of the Federal government [and] all of our Federal partners have made to this terrible tragedy," says DHS Secretary Chertoff.

  • Bush cuts his vacation short, flies back to Washington, with fly-over of devastated Mississippi and New Orleans. Cheney still on vacation in Wyoming.

  • Bush authorizes a draw-down from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Gasoline prices surge above $3.00 a gallon, and shortages arise.

Sept. 1: Mayor Nagin issues a statement to CNN saying: "This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the Convention Center and don't anticipate enough buses.... the Convention Center is unsanitary and unsafe, and we are running out of supplies for 15,000 to 25,000 people."

  • Looting, carjacking, and other violence spreads, and the military decides to increase National Guard deployment to 30,000. Outside the New Orleans Convention Center, the sidewalks are packed with people without food, water, or medical care, waiting for buses that do not come. Tempers flare. Crowds at the Superdome swell to 30,000 with another 25,000 at the convention center. The first refugee buses arrive at the Houston Astrodome. Elsewhere, 76,000 people are in Red Cross shelters.

  • Doctors at two New Orleans hospitals plead for help, saying food, water and power are almost gone. Helicopters evacuate up to 600 patients but an estimated 1,500 remain stranded.

  • The death toll in Mississippi hits 126.

  • Texas agrees to take in 75,000 hurricane evacuees.

  • NorthCom establishes Joint Task Force-Katrina to act as on-scene military command in support of FEMA, under the command of Lt. Gen. Russel Honore; there are 113 helicopters—61 National Guard and 52 DoD—involved in rescue and relief operations.

  • An 80-person expeditionary medical support team deploys from Scott AFB in Illinois, to New Orleans.

  • 600 massive sand bags arrive to help shore up New Orleans' broken levees.

  • Doctors complain that DHS sent disaster medical assistance teams to Baton Rouge, not New Orleans. Medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile did not begin arriving in Louisiana and Mississippi until three days after the hurricane struck.

  • FEMA Director Brown defends FEMA's response, and urges the nation to "take a deep collective breath" and realize that the Federal government is doing all it can. He tells Paula Zahn of CNN—three days after the hurricane hit—that "the Federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today."

  • Bush asks former Presidents Bush and Clinton to lead a fund-raising campaign for hurricane victims.

  • Cheney cuts short his vacation, and returns to Washington.

Sept. 2: Mayor Nagin says that "the people of our city are holding on by a thread. Time has run out...."

  • Bush tours Gulf Coast areas and acknowledges the failure so far of government hurricane-relief efforts. "The results are not acceptable," he says.

  • Thousands of National Guardsmen arrive in New Orleans and begin distributing food and water, and start providing security for the tens of thousands of people at the Convention Center and the Superdome. By the end of the day, the Superdome and the Convention Center are mostly evacuated.

  • Congress approves $10.5 billion to cover the immediate rescue and relief efforts. The United States and European nations tap oil and gasoline stockpiles for 2 million barrels a day, hoping to stem gas shortages.

  • Fifteen airlines get permission to fly up to 25,000 refugees out of New Orleans to San Antonio. Texas opens two more giant centers for victims after the Astrodome fills up. States as far away as Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Michigan offer to accept refugees.

  • Alabama Gov. Bob Riley announces that FEMA has approved the use of military police dormitories at Fort McClellan, a former military base in Anniston, to shelter about 1,000 homeless hurricane victims.

Sept. 3: Almost everyone is evacuated from the Convention Center and Superdome. Tens of thousands of New Orleans residents still need to be evacuated. Bush authorizes the deployment of 7,200 active-duty ground troops to the area.

  • Five days after Federal help is sought by Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, two representatives from FEMA arrive there and ask if help is needed.

BUSH AND CHENEY CULPABLE:

Timeline:
Takedown of FEMA,
Disaster Planning

When the Bush-Cheney Administration took office in 2001 with a ideological determination to downsize and privatize much of the programs and services provided by the Federal government, one of its targets was the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It was almost universally acknowledged at that time, that FEMA had been transformed into one of the best-functioning government agencies during the Clinton Administration.

FEMA was established in 1979, and during the Cold War period of the 1980s, its focus was narrowed from natural disasters, to a potential nuclear attack and related continuity-of-government functions. As a result, FEMA was unable to respond quickly and adequately to East Coast hurricanes in 1989 and 1992. But after this, as even the Wall Street Journal noted in a major report Aug. 16, 2004, the Clinton Administration revitalized FEMA, and its broadened approach "turned FEMA into an agency widely regarded as one of the government's most effective." What the Journal failed to acknowledge, was that it was strong Presidential leadership and support for FEMA's mission, that made the process work.

This timeline shows what has happened to FEMA's role and its unique capabilities since 2001, and provides the backdrop for the events described in the first timeline.

Early 2001: FEMA issues a study that identifies a hurricane of the magnitude of Category 4 or 5 striking New Orleans, as one of the three most likely disasters to happen in the United States. The others were a terrorist attack on New York City, and an earthquake in San Francisco.

January 2001: At the beginning of January, Bush appoints Joe Allbaugh, a crony from Texas, as head of FEMA. Allbaugh has no previous experience in disaster management, but he had been Bush's chief of staff in Texas, and manager of the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000. Along with Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, he was known as one of the three members of the "iron triangle" of Bush's handlers. Other politically connected individuals are put in top positions at FEMA at this time, a pattern which continues in 2003.

  • On Jan. 31, the Hart-Rudman "Commission on National Security" issues its report, which includes a recommendation to incorporate FEMA, the Coast Guard, the Border Patrol, and other agencies into a new homeland security agency. The Bush-Cheney Administration initially reacts coolly to the report.

February-March 2001: The Bush-Cheney Administration launches a drive to privatize public services, including key elements of FEMA's activities for disaster management. FEMA begins to outsource government jobs to contractors. Bush's first Office of Management and Budget Director, Mitch Daniels, states at a conference: "The general idea—that the business of government is not to provide services, but to make sure that they are provided—seems self-evident to me," he said.

The new Administration proposes eliminating Project Impact, a successful, Clinton-era program of loans and grants to assist localities in "mitigation"—making homes and other structures more resistant to earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes.

March-May 2001: Bush proposes cutting FEMA's budget by 20%, including cutting mitigation grants. "They clearly are dissociating themselves from programs closely identified with the previous Administration," says a George Washington University disaster expert. "Whether a broader philosophical process is going on is not entirely clear yet, but I suspect it is," he says, citing proposals for shifting responsibility from the Federal government to the states.

May 2001: Bush puts Cheney in charge. On May 8, the President issues a statement on "Domestic Preparedness Against Weapons of Mass Destruction," saying that he has asked Cheney to oversee the development of a coordinated national effort to protect the country from a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attack, and that he has asked FEMA to create an Office of National Preparedness, to implement the Cheney recommendations.

  • At the same time, Cheney announces on CNN that he will head a task force on homeland defense, and that FEMA will devise plans and strategies to figure out how to respond to a "man-made, or man-caused" disaster in the form of a terrorist attack.

  • Allbaugh confirms that FEMA will be downsized, and that localities will be on their own. "Many are concerned that Federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective state and local risk management," he tells a Senate appropriations subcommittee on May 15. "Expectations of when the Federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level," he says.

June 2001: House Republicans cut $389 million from the FEMA budget, over Democratic objections.

September 2001: Ten days after the 9/11 attacks, Bush creates an Office of Homeland Security to coordinate counterterrorism efforts—including FEMA—and names Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania to head it.

June 2002: The Bush Administration proposes the creation of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Ridge tells both the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Government Reform Committee on June 20, that the Administration's DHS proposal is the direct outcome of the planning process led by Vice President Cheney since May of 2001, and which then continued in the Office of Homeland Security. Ridge says that FEMA is "at the centerpiece" of the Administration's initiative.

July 2002: The Government Accountability Office warns that a merger of FEMA would be a "high-risk" endeavor.

  • During the debate on the creation of DHS in the House, an amendment by James Oberstar (D-Minn.) to retain FEMA as an independent agency, is defeated by a vote of 165 to 261. Reps. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Obey (D-Wisc.) warn that moving FEMA into the DHS "creates the risk that [its] responsibilities will be neglected and poorly performed." Rep. Costello (D-Ill.) says: "Without the continuation of FEMA's independent coordinating role, we cannot ensure that the government will be able to effectively respond to and recover from disasters."

Sept.-Oct. 2002: Bush ousts former Rep. Mike Parker (R-Miss.) as head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, after Parker testified before the Senate Budget Committee, and challenged the Administration's $2 billion cut in the Corps' budget. Parker charged that it would have a "negative impact" on "national interest", and lead to the loss of contracts and tens of thousands of jobs.

November 2002: During the Senate debate on DHS, Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) says: "With the passage of this Homeland Security legislation, we will destroy the Federal Emergency Management Agency, losing years of progress toward a well-coordinated Federal response to disasters. As it now exists, FEMA is a lean, flexible agency receiving bipartisan praise as one of the most effective agencies in government.... I cannot understand why, after years of frustration and failure, we would jeopardize the Federal government's effective response to natural disasters by dissolving FEMA into this monolithic Homeland Security Department. I fear that FEMA will no longer be able to adequately respond to hurricanes, fires, floods, and earthquakes, begging the question, who will?"

December 2002: After less than two years as FEMA Director, Joe Allbaugh announces his intention to resign. In March 2003, Allbaugh leaves FEMA, and sets up a number of lobbying firms, including Allbaugh Co., with many clients in the disaster-relief business, and New Bridge Strategies, which helps U.S. companies win reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

January 2003: Bush nominates Michael D. Brown to replace Allbaugh as FEMA Director. Allbaugh had given Brown, his former college roommate, a job in FEMA in 2001 as Deputy Director and General Counsel. Brown was a failed lawyer with a padded resume, who had no qualification to serve in FEMA at any level. He had been employed for the previous 11 years as commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, from which he was forced to resign.

February 2003: President Bush signs Executive Order 13286 which transfers "certain functions to the Secretary of Homeland Security," from many agencies and departments, including FEMA. As FEMA is downgraded from a cabinet-level agency and submerged in the Department of Homeland Security, its mission is refocussed onto terrorism. FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is cut in half. From FY2003 to FY 2005, $800 million in emergency preparedness grants were transferred from FEMA to the new DHS Office of Domestic Preparedness, where they were designated for use in counterterrorism.

February 2004: Although $20 million was needed for the Army Corps of Engineers Lake Pontchartrain and Hurricane Vicinity Project, which is still about 20% incomplete, Bush's budget proposes only $3.9 million. "The longer we wait without funding, the more we sink," says project manager Al Naomi.

March 2004: Former FEMA director James Lee Witt testifies before two House subcommittees in opposition to DHS's plan to reduce the number of FEMA regional and field offices. "I and many others in the emergency management community across the country are deeply concerned about the direction FEMA is headed." He says there's been erosion of the successful partnership that was built between local, state, and federal partners. "I am extremely concerned that the ability of our nation to prepare for and respond to disasters has been sharply eroded," Witt states. "I hear from emergency managers, local and state leaders, and first responders nearly every day that the FEMA they knew and worked well with has now disappeared. In fact, one ... told me, 'It is like a stake has been driven into the heart of emergency management.' "

Summer 2004: The union local which represents FEMA employees writes to Congress complaining about cronyism, saying that this initially "took place mainly at the senior levels of FEMA, but it has now entered into mid-level and working-level" hirings.

  • FEMA privatizes its hurricane disaster plan for New Orleans, contracting it out to Innovative Emergency Management.

  • The Administration makes the biggest budget cuts in history to the Army Corps of Engineers hurricane and flood-control funding for the New Orleans area. "It appears that the money has been moved in the President's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq," states Jefferson Parish emergency management chief Walter Maestri.

  • FEMA denies Louisiana's pre-disaster mitigation funding requests. Says Jefferson Parish flood zone manager Tom Rodrigues: "You would think we would get maximum consideration.... This is what the grant program called for. We were more than qualified for it."

  • More than 250 emergency preparedness officials from more than 50 Federal, state, and local agencies and volunteer organizations, participate in an unique eight-day gathering, organized by FEMA. They conduct a "tabletop exercise," a simulation of what would happen if a Category 5 hurricane were to slam into New Orleans. Their conclusion: It would be perhaps the greatest catastrophe in American history. They cited a study that "the death toll ... in the New Orleans area could be between 25,000 and 100,000." According to one participant, "as much as 87% of the area's housing would be destroyed." The report also notes the problem of debris of "human and animal corpses, including bodies washed out of cemeteries; and a mix of toxic chemicals likely to escape from businesses."

  • A major Wall Street Journal investigative report on Aug. 16 presents a devastating picture of the deterioration of FEMA since 2001. "FEMA's 1,700 staffers make up barely 1% of the Homeland Security Department's 180,000 employees. Long-serving FEMA employees, unhappy with the loss of independence and in some cases with new policies, have been leaving FEMA in droves, taking their years of experience with them. Once the highest-ranked government office for worker satisfaction, FEMA is now dead last, according to surveys conducted by labor unions and the Federal government's Office of Personnel Management. In the most recent union survey, 60% of FEMA staffers said they would take a job elsewhere if one were offered, and 80% of respondents said they thought FEMA has become a poorer agency since joining Homeland Security."

    The Journal also reports that "a quiet battle is under way within the Homeland Security Department," explaining: "On one side are former law-enforcement officials, advocating secrecy, tight security, and intelligence as the key to minimizing the trauma of any terrorist attack. On the other are firefighters and emergency managers who emphasize collaboration, information sharing, public awareness, and mitigation efforts to reduce the impact of disasters."

March 2005: Former Clinton FEMA director James Lee Witt tells the National Hurricane Conference meeting in New Orleans, that putting FEMA under the DHS has hampered its ability to deal with hurricanes and other disasters. The arrangement "has minimized their effectiveness in responding, in planning and training, the national hurricane program, everything." It has also reduced FEMA's direct communication with top government leaders and created problems in sending funds where they are needed.

April 2005: David Liebersbach, president of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) tells the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security: "All-hazards preparedness is in danger of being regarded as a thing of the past as more focus is being placed on terrorism. We must ensure that our capability to deal with many hazards, including terrorism, remains intact and that we do not shift our focus to preparedness for a single peril."

June 2005: Funding for the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cut by a record $71.2 million. One of the hardest-hit areas is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Tammany parishes.

July 2005: U.S. News & World Report reports that "the American Red Cross and FEMA ranked a hurricane in New Orleans as the nation's most dangerous natural disaster threat."

  • Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco sends a letter to President Bush on July 20, in connection with the Administration's opposition to measures needed to reverse the deterioration of the coastland. Blanco asks Bush to visit Louisiana and see the danger for himself. Noting that budget cutting is the Administration's goal, she pleads: "please consider the far greater costs of not addressing the catastrophic coastal land loss occurring in Louisiana, land loss that puts our nation's energy security and economic future at risk."

  • DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff unveils his "Stage 2" review of the re-organized agencies under his control.

  • NEMA president Liebersbach warns that this proposal "takes all natural disaster preparedness responsibility away from [FEMA], and puts it in a new 'Directorate for Preparedness." In a letter to House and Senate committees, Liebersbach argues that FEMA's mission of preparedness for all types of disasters has been "forgotten" at DHS, in favor of Chertoff's emphasis on "terrorism and homeland security capabilities."

September 2005: After FEMA's utter failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina, dismayed former FEMA officials are quoted in the Washington Post. "It's such an irony I hate to say it, but we have less capability today than we did on September 11," says one. "We are so much less than what we were in 2000." "We've lost a lot of what we were able to do then," another senior FEMA official said.

  • Other accounts note that five of the eight top positions in FEMA, are filled by persons with no experience in disaster response, whose only reason for appointment are political ties to the Bush-Cheney team.

These timelines were prepared by Edward Spannaus and Mary Jane Freeman, with the help of Richard Freeman, Christine Craig, and Anton Chaitkin.

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