AP News reports that:
Bush had the legal authority to order the National Guard to the disaster area himself, as he did after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks . But the troops four years ago were deployed for national security protection, and presidents of both parties traditionally defer to governors to deploy their own National Guardsmen and request help from other states when it comes to natural disasters.
In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service.
The CRAF provision has been activated twice, once for the Persian Gulf War and again for the Iraq war.
It appears the American public isn’t the alone in wanting answers to the slow response from the National Guard and the Federal Government. AP News is reporting that more than a few Republicans and Democrats in Congress want answers too…
Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans didn’t get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck — a delay nearly certain to be investigated by Congress.
Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress are just beginning to ask why one of the National Guard’s most trusted roles — disaster relief — was so uneven, delayed and chaotic this time around.
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said the situation has shown major breakdowns in the nation’s emergency response capabilities. “There must be some accountability in this process after the crisis is addressed,” he said.
Democrat Ben Nelson, Nebraska’s other senator, said he now questions National Guard leaders’ earlier assertions that they had enough resources to respond to natural disasters even with the Iraq war.
“I’m going to ask that question again,” Nelson said. “Do we have enough (troops), and if we do, why were they not deployed sooner?”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., plans to make oversight of the Defense Department, the National Guard and their assistance his top priority when he returns to Washington next week from an overseas trips, spokesman John Ullyot said Friday.
It’s also been reported tonight through Air America that the Red Cross has not been allowed into New Orleans.
Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.
The state Homeland Security Department had requested–and continues to request–that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane.