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Statement of September 11th Advocates Regarding Katrina Comm

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:48 pm    Post subject: Statement of September 11th Advocates Regarding Katrina Comm
From Tue Sep 20, 2005 3:00 am to Thu Sep 22, 2005 2:59 am (included)
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For Immediate Release

Statement of September 11th Advocates
Regarding Katrina Commission
September 20, 2005

We are overwhelmingly saddened by the devastating events that continue to unfold in New Orleans and the lower Gulf states.

The parallels between 9/11 (a "man-made" disaster) and Hurricane Katrina (a "natural" disaster), are obvious and unsettling. Both disasters, share the unnecessary deaths of innocents and the unnecessary creation of thousands of traumatized victims. Poor government response and coordination preceding, during, and after both disasters not only contributed to their overwhelming nature but actually exacerbated their impact upon this nation and its citizens. Four years after September 11th, we find our government's inability to adequately and reasonably protect its citizens in such disasters unacceptable. Four years after 9/11, our government should be mitigating damages after disasters, not aggravating them.

In our post-9/11 environment, we should have learned lessons and hardened our homeland prior to another disaster striking us. Yet, we did not. Essentially, four years of opportunity to better plan and prepare for imminent disasters (i.e. nuclear, chemical, biological or natural) were squandered.

Now, we must ask, why?

Was it a failure to prioritize homeland security? Was it a failure of leadership on behalf of both political parties? Was it a lack of national will? Was it a lack of appropriated resources? Finally, who should be held accountable for our current unacceptable level of vulnerability?

Both Congress and President Bush have promised resources and attention to the many problems laid brutally bare by Hurricane Katrina. Billions of dollars of funding and relief, reconstruction efforts and, of course, a postmortem have been ordered. We as a nation must remain mindful of these promises and commitments. We must ensure that there is indeed an effective "follow through" by our leaders. Most importantly, our nation must learn from the painful lessons of Katrina what we failed to learn from 9/11, so as to truly safeguard our nation's future. Such painful lessons must then be put into real action to yield sound, concrete results to make this nation less vulnerable from all categorical disasters.

Shortly after 9/11, Congress called for a "congressional" investigation into the 9/11 attacks. In essence, we were expected to let Congress investigate itself. As 9/11 victims’ family members, we did not agree. We felt that the most appropriate means to achieve a thorough examination of the government's systemic failures exhibited on 9/11 had to be an Independent Commission. Likewise, after Katrina, we now find Congress requesting an investigation of itself to be conducted by itself. Once again, we have to respectfully and vehemently disagree.

The inability of our government to respond in a timely and appropriate manner to the devastation of a hurricane – not a terrorist attack but a known meteorological disaster – demands a comprehensive, unbiased, definitive report that can only be produced by a truly Independent Panel. Such a panel must be comprised of subject matter experts - not politicians. Because, this time, we need to understand not only how the system failed, but how and why individuals failed, as well. This time we need accountability and responsibility to be swiftly and summarily assessed so as to force change. Accountability is paramount. Without it, we send a message that abject failure is and always will be a tolerable option.

And so, as the thousands of innocent Katrina victims focus on mending their broken families and ensuring that their most basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are met, we respectfully request Congress and the President to immediately set out legislation for an Independent Katrina Commission.

* * *

September 11th Advocates

Kristen Breitweiser

Patty Casazza

Monica Gabrielle

Mindy Kleinberg

Lorie Van Auken
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