The Department of Homeland Security just faced its first major test in New Orleans. It failed miserably.
No one is in charge. Looters, gangs, thugs, and murders rule the streets. (See Michelle Malkin: Can Law and Order Be Restored?) Police and other supposed officials have no instructions on what to do with refugees, who are herded from one street gang war to another. Days-old-babies are boiling in the sun while police yell at their helpless mothers to keep moving toward the danger zones.
Last night, three buses pulled up in front of a CanalStreet hotel filled with stranded tourists. Instead of picking up the tourists, the buses evacuated police officers and their families.
I was against the creation of Homeland Security after 9/11, and I was right. It was a waste of money giving a false sense of confidence to Americans who are now dying in droves in the South because the federal government clearly never had a plan for handling a major disaster in a major city.
Even more blame must fall at the feet of Louisiana and New Orleans administrations going back 10 years or more. The levees were a white elephant, ignored for decades. After the Twin Towers collapsed, how could the city and state NOT have a contingency in place for dealing with a levee rupture? And why haven’t they started shooting looters? Why don’t the shoot the gangsters? It seems to me that the sludge and feces and chemicals will come up with paper towels, but the human stain of unmolested lawlessness will be far more difficult to stop. In only 4 days, New Orleans' criminal element has lost whatever respect or fear it might have once had for law enforcement. They’re shooting helicopters, ambulances, and nurses, for crying out loud. And the governments–local, state, and federal–are more concerned with citizens shooting the murderers and murrauders. Give me a break!
Perhaps Bush can pull off a miracle. Perhaps the GOP, even without any serious leadership, can argue its way out of this one. Perhaps the Democrats will, as they so often do, forfeit their advantage by surrendering to myriad interest groups. Still, we must conclude that every level of government involved in New Orleans was caught with its pants in the same place we so often found Bill Clinton’s: down.
UPDATE: From FoxNews.com
“We are out here like pure animals. We don’t have help,” the Rev. Issac Clark, 68, said outside the New Orleans Convention Center, where corpses lay in the open and evacuees complained that they were dropped off and given nothing.
One ambulance official overseeing the airlift rescue operations said a gunshot was fired at a military helicopter over the Superdome before daybreak.
“We have suspended operations until they gain control of the Superdome,” said Richard Zeuschlag, head of Acadian Ambulance, which was handling the evacuation of sick and injured people from the Superdome.
The military, which was overseeing the removal of the able-bodied by buses, continued the ground evacuation without interruption, said National Guard Lt. Col. Pete Schneider. Schneider said those evacuations were continuing and were not affected by trash fires burning outside the Superdome. Law enforcement officers will ride with the school buses, he said.
UPDATE: Beth at MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy posts a plea to President Bush to send in the Marines. I agree.