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Democrats Question the Coordination of the National


Committee on Homeland Security Democrats Bennie G. Thompson, Ranking Member
www.house.gov/hsc/democrats/

For Immediate Release:

September 5, 2005

Contact: Jennifer Porter Gore
Nadra Harrison
202.226.2616

House Homeland Security Democrats Question the Coordination of the National
Guard's Response Efforts

WASHINGTON- Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the
House Homeland Security Committee along with Congressman Bill Pascrell
(D-NJ), Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on
Emergency Preparedness, Science and Technology, sent a letter today to
President Bush about the timing of activating the nation's National Guard.

The text of the letter follows:

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

During the past week, the federal government faced the greatest test of its
emergency preparedness and response capabilities. As the grim picture coming
out of our Gulf states reveals, the federal government has failed to protect
the American people and our nation's welfare.

Under the National Emergencies Act, codified at 50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq, the
authority to declare a national emergency, thereby allowing the National
Guard and other critical resources to be activated and alerted, lies within
your office. On September 14, 2001, you used this mechanism to alert and
activate more than half of the Army Guard personnel (more than 175,000) and
one-third of Air Guard personnel (about 35,000) in response to the events of
September 11th. The federal government also has the authority to activate,
if needed, a major air support plan under pre-existing contracts with
private and cargo airlines participating in the Civilian Reserve Air Fleet.

Why were these mechanisms not utilized last Sunday when it became clear that
Hurricane Katrina was headed straight to our Gulf Coast, home to millions of
people, and the cradle of America's oil and gas reserves? At that time, a
mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, the 35' largest city in the nation,
was ordered by the state. There were warnings that the hurricane would
potentially cripple the Gulfs oil and gas assets that supply 35 percent of
the U.S. domestic oil production. In addition, many believed the shipping
and warehousing of critical chemicals, agriculture exports, and imports in
at least three states would be impacted. The threat to multiple states, a
large metropolitan area, and interstate economic assets required federal
action.

Even if one downplayed the potential impact before the storm, we ask why in
the 24 hours following Katrina's massive ground assault, neither the
National Guard nor the Civil Reserve Air Fleet was activated by the federal
government? The scenes from New Orleans as the levees broke was one of utter
chaos as the city became flooded under several feet of water. The picture
from Mississippi was no better, as Biloxi, Gulfport, and other cities were
shown flattened with reports of high casualties. Storm surges flooded
downtown Mobile, Alabama.

In addition, Monday saw 61 5 of the 819 oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico
evacuated. Oil production dropped to 1.4 million barrels a day, a 92 percent
change. Natural gas production was down 83 percent. It became clear that day
that the Plantation and Colonial pipelines that supplied gasoline to the
entire Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic region were rendered inoperable because
of power outages. There were indications that airports across the nation
might run out of jet fuel and that some airports will be forced to close
down. The security of our nation's energy sector is critical to national
security and is an essential responsibility of the federal government. As
gas prices rose and shortages were reported across the nation, America was
facing a national crisis in need of leadership.

The federal government was not prepared to respond properly to last week's
catastrophe. The question remains why, despite the warnings and potential
for loss of life and economic damage across the nation, you did not declare
a national emergency either immediately before or after Hurricane Katrina
struck? In addition, if our nation's vulnerabilities and ill-preparedness is
so transparent when a hurricane strikes, what does that say about our
ability to counter a terrorist attack, for which we will have no warning?

In our role as Ranking Members of the House Homeland Security Committee and
its Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee, we request answers to these
questions.

Sincerely,

Bennie G. Thompson
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security

Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science, and Technology

cc: Michael Chertoff, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
Michael Brown, Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency

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is like a mental illness.

Common, Rush. Respond. I'm a mess here. I still love you, man. I keep watching FOX looking for the "code" but I'm just not receiving. If you get this, please mail a couple hundred of my faves to me-overnight. ditto? You know me, the headless horseman. Remember? Please!

is like a mental illness.

Hi Rush!!! Good to hear from you, ole buddy. Got any oxy's you can spare? I'm really hurting here. 20 or 30 will do me for the night.


that's fine, as long as they investigate this, too.

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