Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Orleans Update

Ok, This is amazing. First let me give some thanks that this man, Edgar Hollingsworth, was found alive. Let us hope that he recovers and that his ordeal is over. Also, I want to give praise to the National Guardsmen who rescued him, particularly to Lt. Fell for going into the house in spite of instructions not to. Saving lives should be the first priority and it is good to hear of those who know that in spite of what "authorities" might say.

Finally, what the hell is FEMA thinking. Clearly if you've read much of this blog, you will see that I don't have a high opinion of the performance of that agency. But it seems that every time I think that they have achieved the worst performance possible, they manage to top themselves. Let us hope that the change in management will soon produce some major changes soon. I have seem claims that Posse Comitatus is the reason for restricting these men from entering houses, but I don't buy it. Posse Comitatus restricts military personnel from performing police actions, but that does not mean they can't enter a house to save a life. At the worst it would mean that if military personnel do enter under color of authority then evidence of crimes committed would not be admissible in court. But I can't see what other issues would be involved. I'm no expert on the law, but I would want to see a clearer explanation of why Posse Comitatus would lead to this restriction.

Also, the men described in the article were National Guardsmen and the National Guard is regularly used for police action during emergencies. Now that usage might be restricted to National Guardsmen carrying out their duties in their own state, and the Guardsmen in the article were from CA, but my previous comment would still hold.

To my mind the various failures of FEMA all seem to be due to a failure of imagination, bureaucratic inertia, and/or an inability to multi-task, even as an organization.

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