Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bush's Leadership On Katrina Lacking, Ford Says

As relief efforts in the Gulf region slowly begin to reach those in need, Congressman Harold Ford issued the following statement:

"Yesterday's speech by the President was both uninspiring and uninstructive. I was struck by his cavalier attitude towards the plight of poor people across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have failed to coordinate resources among public and private agencies. The lack of coordination, in short, is appalling.

"Today, President Bush should go back before the cameras. He should command the U.S. military to deploy any and all amphibious vehicles and helicopters to assist in rescue and recovery. Instead of focusing disproportionately on looters, we should focus our efforts on rescuing these poor people stuck in bacteria-infected waters, which is often as high as their homes.

"Second, Bush should dramatically increase the number of teams of Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans to repair the breaches in the levees, and to fortify those portions of the levees that are perilously close to rupturing, which would worsen a devastating situation even more.

"Finally, Bush should deploy the Centers for Disease Control en masse to the affected areas to assess the growing health dangers posed by the flooded sewers. I urge him to do this immediately - time is growing short.

"And, since President Bush waited too long to deploy the National Guard, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should go to New Orleans and lead the military effort. No one less authoritative than our top defense official should be on the ground to direct the military's rescue and recovery efforts and to assist with providing security.

"I was disappointed and frankly angry at President Bush's response yesterday. Now is not the time - in the face of pain, anguish and death - to be weak and uncertain. It is time to step up, Mr. President, and be a leader."