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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after news media reports revealed that the Department of Homeland Security warned Bush Administration officials well before Hurricane Katrina made landfall of the likely catastrophic impact of the storm on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region:
“The revelations today about the Bush Administration’s ineptitude in the face of the detailed warnings it received about Hurricane Katrina can be summed up in two words – dangerous and unacceptable.
“The Department of Homeland Security apparently warned top Administration officials well before Katrina made landfall of the likely catastrophic impact of this storm. Yet, even today, the Administration pretends that Katrina’s devastation could not be anticipated and that it could not foresee the human toll. The revelations contained in these Homeland Security documents not only call into question the Administration’s claims, but also raise grave concerns about its competence in disaster preparedness.
“These revelations about what the Administration knew, and when it knew it, demand an effective, bipartisan Congressional inquiry. We owe the victims of this deadly storm and their loved ones at least that much. But equally important, we must take every step necessary to ensure the safety of our people and our nation from natural disasters or terrorist attacks.
“The simple fact is, we are not doing enough today. Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, planning and plotting, four and one-half years after 9/11. And, this Administration and Congressional Republicans have failed to take all of the steps necessary to protect our nation, according to the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.
“I hope these recent revelations about the Administration’s knowledge of the likely impact of Hurricane Katrina spur us to action. Time is of the essence. Disaster prepardedness and response planning are key parts of our homeland security, and I hope Republicans will join Democrats in ensuring that critical reforms are implemented.”