Tuesday, July 24, 2007

FEMA aids the Terrorists:

The underlying strategy of terrorism is not to topple governments, but to strike fear into the hearts of the population as a whole. Fear, not just of the potential of another attack, but also, inadvertently, of a population’s own government. Fear of excessive measures to deal with terrorists, but also, fear of failure to act effectively in the wake of another attack, thus undermining the credibility of that government.

FEMA represents that second fear. It recently came to light that the trailers FEMA provided for the victims of Hurricane Katrina had cancer-causing formaldehyde gas at 75 times the federally-allowed maximum for workers. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/19/AR2007071901039.html?sub=AR) Many people got sick, and one even died. What’s worse, FEMA knew about the problem, but refused to take action to remedy the situation. Lawyers advised against testing trailers because that would create a situation in which FEMA would have to do something – and we all know how FEMA feels about doing anything. A FEMA lawyer even wrote: "Do not initiate any testing until we give the OK. . . . Once you get results and should they indicate some problem, the clock is running on our duty to respond to them."

This is not just an outrage, but a demonstration of the weaknesses in our country’s ability to respond to a crisis. Not only did FEMA fail to get people out of harm’s way – they belatedly moved them into further harm’s way and did nothing about it. This undermines the average citizen’s faith in their government to respond and assist in the next crisis – be it a terrorist strike, a viral outbreak, or another hurricane. This creates the very fear terrorists hope to create within our society – fear that our government is not only helpless to prevent an attack, but also the fear that our government will not be able to effectively respond to an attack.

If the government is serious about the war on terror, it should step up its ability to respond and take care of its own.

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