Sunday, September 04, 2005

Legal wrangling and the resulting inaction to save lives

In an article posted on its website Sunday slated to the the cover story of its September 12 issue out on newsstands this week, Newsweek magazine notes that legal wrangling was also going on within the Bush administration as the situation in New Orleans deteriorated:

President Bush could have "federalized" the National Guard in an instant. That's what his father, President George H.W. Bush, did after the Los Angeles riots in 1992.... But after Katrina, a strange paralysis set in. For days, Bush's top advisers argued over legal niceties about who was in charge, according to three White House officials who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. Beginning early in the week, Justice Department lawyers presented arguments for federalizing the Guard, but Defense Department lawyers fretted about untrained 19-year-olds trying to enforce local laws, according to a senior law-enforcement official who requested anonymity citing the delicate nature of the discussions.


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