Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Katrina: investigations hindered and water wasted

Now that I'm back from vacation, it's time to catch up on my political reading. First on my list was catching up on hurricane Katrina news. The New York Times reports that the Bush administration is hindering a Congressional investigation into the response to the hurricane:
The Bush administration, citing the confidentiality of executive branch communications, said Tuesday that it did not plan to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina or make senior White House officials available for sworn testimony before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response.


"There has been a near total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation that we have a responsibility to do," Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, said at Tuesday's hearing of the Senate committee investigating the response. His spokeswoman said he would ask for a subpoena for documents and testimony if the White House did not comply.


[E]ven Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, objected when administration officials who were not part of the president's staff said they could not testify about communications with the White House.

"I completely disagree with that practice," Ms. Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in an interview Tuesday.

According to Mr. Lieberman, Michael D. Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, cited such a restriction on Monday, as agency lawyers had advised him not to say whether he had spoken to President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney or to comment on the substance of any conversations with any other high-level White House officials.
And, to keep adding to the list of unused aid, the USA Today reported a few weeks ago:
One million cans of drinking water donated for hurricane relief have been emptied and recycled because the water was never used at Texas and Louisiana hurricane shelters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.

FEMA hauled the 400,000 liters of water, or 18 truckloads, to a scrap metal business in the Dallas area last month. The water was dumped into a sewer and the cans sent for recycling.

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