Fighting Terrorism With Org Charts

The Washington Times says that White House investigators have briefed Congressmen on their Hurricane Katrina inquiry. Their conclusion: “The National Response Plan did not function as planned.” Now there’s a surprise! The Times reports:

The plan, formally in effect for 12 months, provides rules for allocating roles and responsibilities during a domestic emergency.

The plan also specifies how federal agencies are to coordinate with state and local governments and the private sector, and when Washington can step in to assume control of the response. But according to the briefing slides, this “bureaucratic process delayed the federal response.”

Under the heading, “Problems with military,” one section of the briefing detailed how “the National Response Plan’s structure prevented best use of … Department of Defense assets.”

“This structure is not sufficient for a catastrophic event,” the section concluded.

This all goes back to the reorganization of emergency response agencies under the Homeland Security department following September 11. President Bush initially resisted forming the new department, then gave in to the inevitable. His first reaction was appropriately conservative; combatting terrorism by rearranging lines on an organization chart is a liberal idea, not a conservative one. Conservatives thought the way to fight the terrorists was by stepping up our interception of their communications, identifying them and uncovering their plots, and killing or capturing them before their plots could mature. Unlike the reorganization of agencies into the Department of Homeland Security, that approach has worked stunningly well. I guess that’s why the Democrats now consider it a “scandal.” Maybe in a few years we’ll have a Democratic President, and we can find out how well it works to place the nation’s primary reliance on bureaucratic reorganizations.


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