Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rescue, Recovery, and Moving Forward

President Bush is set to address the nation tomorrow. Here is what I think he should say.

My fellow Americans. This nation has experienced the worst natural disaster in generations. Gulf Coast communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have been devastated. Throughout this tragic event, there have been heroic efforts by first responders, the military, and even ordinary citizens who volunteered to help strangers. Through the unprecendented evacuation of a major U.S. city, many lives were lost, but many more lives were saved.

There are small numbers of people who exploited the tragedy to engage in criminal behavior. I have directed the FBI to make forensic examination of fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence from crime in the hurricane aftermath to be a top priority. Law enforcement and the judicial system will have all the help it needs.

As far as the government response to the disaster, if there is blame to be placed, it belongs with this American President. Any failure of government is my responsibility alone. There are things that we can do better on military and civilian fronts, at all levels of government. In the weeks and months ahead, we will explore things that could have been done better. Emergency services were overhauled after 9/11. We will continue to adjust the organization of homeland security to streamline our response to the next emergency, be it a natural disaster or a terrorist attack.

We are still devoting resources to the recovery and clean up. An evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the response is premature, as it is in progress as we speak. But there will be an inquiry that is focused on the future. Any hearings should be sober, constructive, forward-looking, and non-sensationalist. The victims deserve this; the American people deserve this.

We are a resilient and committed nation. We will rebuild. Thank you and may God bless you.

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