This AP story about Chertoff's testimony before Congress, Homeland security secretary defends actions
, shows that he isn't as stupid as Brown, but he doesn't understand what his job entails.
You have all heard the comments from reporters on the scene of a natural disaster; "It looks like a war zone." Yes, it does. I have been in natural disasters and war zones, and there are many similarities. The reality is that the humanitarian response to either event is the same: search and rescue, care for those in need of medical assistance, and provide food and shelter.
FEMA is supposed to be coordinating the response, but the reality is that the Coast Guard started rescuing people immediately because they didn't need any permission, but the Navy couldn't because they did need civilian approval. Food, water, and ice didn't reach those in need because FEMA stopped it. FEMA wanted to "coordinate" the effort, so it stopped it in its tracks. FEMA wasn't prepared to make any decisions, so everything was put on hold.
FEMA had four hurricanes in Florida to bring its people up to speed on procedures, but it acted like it had never seen a hurricane before. There were more people involved in Katrina, but that should have made aid delivery easier as the needs were concentrated.
The new reality is that state and local governments had better be prepared to be on their own for two weeks, because FEMA is a hindrance not a help.