Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Good Idea

It's always helpful to have someone come along and act as an honest broker when two competing sides are at loggerheads. Clearly, we could use just such an honest broker when it comes to dealing with what went wrong in the governmental response to Hurricane Katrina. The Star Tribune has suggested such an honest broker in Saturday's editorial.

If President Bush was sincere in his pledge last week to identify and fix the weaknesses Katrina revealed, an independent commission would seem the best way to proceed, partly because it would avoid overt politicization of the process. Indeed, we know just the group for the job: the 9/11 Commission. It did a masterful job and is still functioning unofficially; what it found bears closely on what went wrong when Katrina hit. the commission you have a highly respected, bipartisan group with great expertise on preparing for and responding to emergencies -- and which already has identified, from its study of 9/11, many of the weaknesses that resurfaced in dealing with Katrina. It would be beyond folly to throw that professionalism and expertise aside in favor of a politicized congressional investigation or an administration-run review. Neither would have the credibility the 9/11 Commission would bring to the effort.

I think this is an excellent idea. Congress at this point is split between covering up the whole mess in order to protect the President and using the investigation to get the President. While I admit that I would love for the latter to happen, this is simply too important a subject for partisanship: too many people have died or had their lives and livelihood upended.

Contrary to the opinions of both sides of the aisle, we still don't know what long term effects this tragedy will have on the economy and the ecology of the entire nation.We do know, however, that this same tragedy will be repeated if we don't root out the causes for the disasterous respone. We must find a way to keep this from happening again.

Since many of the same issues arose originally in the 9/11 investigation, it makes sense to go back to that commission for further follow-up. I just hope Congress and the Administration can put aside politics for awhile so that we can get an honest and frank assessment on what went wrong and what we need to do to correct the errors.


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