Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Kansas Tornado Renews Debate on Guard at War

From the New York Times courtesy of AlterNet:

Ms. Sebelius’s comments about the slow response prompted a debate with the White House on Tuesday, which initially said the fault rested with her. Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, said the governor should have followed procedure by finding gaps after the storm hit and asking the federal government to fill them — but did not.

“If you don’t request it, you’re not going to get it,” Mr. Snow told reporters on Tuesday morning.

The debate was reminiscent of the Bush administration’s skirmishes with Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana, also a Democrat, after Hurricane Katrina. But after an angry flurry of words, both sides seemed to back down a bit later Tuesday.

Ms. Sibelius said she now had enough equipment and personnel to deal with the problems in Greensburg, and the White House acknowledged that the governor had requested several items that the federal government supplied, including a mobile command center, a mobile office building, an urban search and rescue team, and coordination of extra Black Hawk helicopters.

Nonetheless, the governor and officials in other states again expressed concern that the problem could occur again as the stretched National Guard system struggled to respond to disasters at home while also fighting overseas.

Click here for more.

When progressives raised this point during the reign of chaos in New Orleans after Katrina hit, I mostly kept my mouth shut about it. After all, there was no way of really knowing if the Louisiana National Guard response was late in coming due to the Iraq war or if it was just plain incompetence on the part of Louisiana's governor--I mean, obviously, Bush doesn't have a monopoly on incompetence, and there was plenty else to write about in regards to Katrina. For me, this new story about Kansas National Guard equipment shortages nails the coffin shut. In addition to the now infamous incompetence demonstrated by Bush's FEMA, the Federal and state response after Hurricane Katrina was so bad because important resources were tied up in the Iraq occupation.

I think it's safe to say that we're now, and have been, experiencing domestic casualties in this damned war, and it's from friendly fire. Fucking bastards.