Rumsfeld Doublespeak on First Responders

Compare and contrast: What FEMA's August 29 FEMA Press Release issued by Mike Brown said, with Donald Rumsfeld today:

Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), today urged all fire and emergency services departments not to respond to counties and states affected by Hurricane Katrina without being requested and lawfully dispatched by state and local authorities under mutual aid agreements and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

“The response to Hurricane Katrina must be well coordinated between federal, state and local officials to most effectively protect life and property,” Brown said. “We appreciate the willingness and generosity of our Nation’s first responders to deploy during disasters. But such efforts must be coordinated so that fire-rescue efforts are the most effective possible.”

[Hat Tip Fired Up America.]

Here is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today:

In this disaster and a disaster of this magnitude, the would-be first responders at the state and local level were themselves victims in very large numbers. They were, their families were, their homes were victims of this storm. Since the federal system -- the way it's arranged under our constitution provides that the state and local officials are the first responders, and you have a disaster of this magnitude that creates a situation where the first responders are in large measure incapable of functioning given the seriousness of it, we had a situation that was distinctly different than in past events of this type.

The Department of Defense, needless to say, has been stepping in to help the civilian federal agencies in many missions that the first responders had been assigned and are well suited for but, in this case, simply not available and -- or they need some time to adjust to their personal circumstances. As a result, the federal response has been adjusted accordingly.

Update: Internal documents show Brown waited hours after Hurricane Katrina struck to ask Chertoff to send in 1,000 Homeland Security employees -- and then gave them 2 days to arrive.

< Katrina Dead to be Warehoused in Former Leper Town | FEMA blocks dead body examination in NOLA? See "Larry King Live" on Wednesday for answers >
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  • Display: Sort:
    Re: Rumsfeld Doublespeak on First Responders (none / 0) (#1)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:22 PM EST
    Here's the gov't idea of 1st responseFrustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA
    Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"
    "They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet."
    Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid. But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

    Re: Rumsfeld Doublespeak on First Responders (none / 0) (#2)
    by aw on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:23 PM EST
    Knocke said the 48-hour period suggested for the Homeland employees was to ensure they had adequate training. "They were training to help the life-savers," Knocke said.
    Professional rescuers were turned away while FEMA runs 2-day seminars to "train" people. Did they call Leslie Nielsen to the scene while they were at it?

    Re: Rumsfeld Doublespeak on First Responders (none / 0) (#3)
    by MikeDitto on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:23 PM EST
    Yeah, a team of 1000 firefighters were held up in Atlanta to do a day-long sexual harassment training, and then a bunch of them were sent to Charleston, SC to do paperwork rather than being sent into NOLA to rescue people.

    Re: Rumsfeld Doublespeak on First Responders (none / 0) (#4)
    by kipling on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:23 PM EST
    ok, the stories of FEMA's mismanagement are all over blogtopia. So? Let's join the dots, people. What does all this imply? Incompetence doesn't begin to cover it.

    Re: Rumsfeld Doublespeak on First Responders (none / 0) (#5)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:24 PM EST
    FEMA's mismanagement [...] join the dots, people. What does all this imply? Incompetence doesn't begin to cover it.
    It sure as hell doesn't... What it does imply is: If the "team" is incompetent, it is NOT the responsibility of the team - it IS the responsibility if the leader. If the so called "leader" can't or won't "lead", he'd better step aside for someone who will, or he'll be pushed aside by public opinion and by a true "leader". ----- “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.” —George W. Bush, May 24, 2005