The GAO has blamed Michael Chertoff for the chaotic, inadequate federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
In particular, the GAO faulted Chertoff for not immediately designating Katrina a "catastrophic event," a technical step that would have permitted federal officials to take the initiative in the emergency.A DHS spokesman offers this remarkable defense:
William R. "Russ" Knocke called the report "premature and unprofessional" and said "catastrophic event" declarations were reserved for disasters in which federal officials had little warning or time to pre-position supplies.So the fact that the federal officials failed miserably despite having plenty of advance warning, and ample time to pre-position supplies, lets them off the hook as far as these accusations are concerned. Fair enough.
As for "premature," the GAO's report is clearly identified as preliminary. And the idea that the DHS would be calling anyone else "unprofessional" is astounding. If the DHS had a fraction of the credibility and professionalism of the GAO, it'd be by far the most trustworthy part of this administration.