Monday, September 19, 2005

Triage for Beginners 

Courtesy of our exalted colleague Shaula Evans at Tsuredzuregusa: Even our libertarian friends agree that the first function of government is to protect the lives of its citizens. Keep that in mind as you read the single most damning indictment of FEMA we have yet had the displeasure to post:
In the midst of administering chest compressions to a dying woman several days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter was ordered to stop by a federal official because he wasn't registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I begged him to let me continue," said Perlmutter, who left his home and practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Pennsylvania to come to Louisiana and volunteer to care for hurricane victims. "People were dying, and I was the only doctor on the tarmac (at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport) where scores of nonresponsive patients lay on stretchers. Two patients died in front of me.

"I showed him (the U.S. Coast Guard official in charge) my medical credentials. I had tried to get through to FEMA for 12 hours the day before and finally gave up. I asked him to let me stay until I was replaced by another doctor, but he refused. He said he was afraid of being sued. I informed him about the Good Samaritan laws and asked him if he was willing to let people die so the government wouldn't be sued, but he would not back down. I had to leave."

FEMA issued a formal response to Perlmutter's story, acknowledging that the agency does not use voluntary physicians.

"We have a cadre of physicians of our own," FEMA spokesman Kim Pease said Thursday. "They are the National Disaster Medical Team. ... The voluntary doctor was not a credentialed FEMA physician and, thus, was subject to law enforcement rules in a disaster area."
UPDATE: And do read Kurt Nimmo on posse comitatus:

Our corporate media has blamed FEMA’s response to Katrina on bureaucratic inertia and ineptitude. However, a cursory examination of events reveal something else: FEMA (and the Department of Homeland Security) deliberately exacerbated the situation in New Orleans and up and down the Gulf Coast by withholding crucial assistance, thus creating a chaotic situation and “anarchy” in the streets as desperate people “looted” stores in search of water and food. FEMA turned away experienced firefighters; turned away Wal-Mart supply trucks; prevented the Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel; prevented the Red Cross from delivering food; blocked morticians from entering New Orleans; blocked a 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid; turned away generators; told first responders not to respond. As Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard revealed during an emotional plea on NBC’s Meet the Press, FEMA basically declared war on local authorities and sabotaged local communications. FEMA went out of its way to make the situation worse, thus sending the message: without military occupation and a watering down of the Posse Comitatus Act, FEMA and the feds cannot do their job, a message dutifully echoed by the corporate media . . . .

If the Posse Comitatus Act is an obstacle to anything, it is the federal government’s desire send in the Marines—who are trained to fight wars, not provide disaster relief and augment (or supplant) local law enforcement. “One of the United States’ greatest strengths is that the military is responsive to civilian authority and that we do not allow the Army, Navy, Marines or the Air Force to be a police force,” Marine Corps General Stephen Olmstead testified before Congress. “History is replete with countries that allowed that to happen. Disaster is the result.” Or, as Maryland delegate Luther Martin argued during the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “When a government wishes to deprive its citizens of freedom, and reduce them to slavery, it generally makes use of a standing army.”

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