Saturday, September 03, 2005

The unacceptable response

The Washington Post's lead story online right now discusses federal efforts to gain control of the evacuation of New Orleans. Two paragraphs are especially interesting (emphasis added by me): "Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday." "The administration had sought control over National Guard units, normally under control of the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request, noting that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. State authorities suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who is an adviser and does not have the authority to speak publicly." Two immediate responses to this: First, on Friday morning, when President Bush declared the response to Katrina "unacceptable," he was likely referring to Louisiana. Second, what, exactly, would have been so bad about declaring martial law in New Orleans by Thursday or Friday (if not sooner)?