WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Congress has questions about Katrina. The Congress wants their questions answered -- now! To satisfy the insatiable curiosity of people like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, congressional hearings are now being scheduled. Various administration officials engaged in Katrina rescue and recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi therefore have to stop what they are doing in order to answer these very important questions from very important members of Congress.
Requiring rescue/recovery officials to stop rescuing and recovering to respond to questions is akin to demanding that a fireman stop pouring water on a fire so that he can answer an inquiry about how he is fighting the blaze. Apparently that doesn't matter to the likes of Mr. Reid or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. They have their questions ready -- and they want answers.
Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi have already given us a taste of their line of inquiry. "How much time did the president spend dealing with this emerging crisis while he was on vacation?" asked Mr. Reid in a salient observation on the storm and its consequences. Ms. Pelosi apparently prefers to cast her queries in the form of aspersions: "Mr. President, you should have taken charge, and you should have taken responsibility," she charged as President Bush was touring the carnage. Ms. Pelosi has since rejected the administration's suggestion that any investigation of the response to Katrina should be conducted by a bi-cameral, bi-partisan commission -- an idea endorsed by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In fairness, there may be some -- like Sen. Joe Lieberman -- who want to use a Congressional Inquiry as an opportunity to determine what could be done better in response to an extraordinary disaster -- manmade or natural. If that's the case, it will be important to ask questions of others besides Bush administration officials. Herewith a short list of questions for New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin:
When the National Weather Service warned that Hurricane Katrina would be potentially catastrophic, what emergency preparations and announcements were made to residents of New Orleans and when and how were they made?
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.