WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Send in the Marines." For more than two centuries, those words -- or something similar -- have been uttered hundreds of times by our nation's leaders when it became necessary to protect American lives, property, interests and security. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, "Send in the Marines," may take on a whole new meaning.
This week, while hundreds of square miles of storm-devastated Louisiana and Mississippi are still inhabitable, the House Government Reform Committee began hearings into what went wrong in responding to Katrina. Unfortunately, before we have even determined what went wrong, "official Washington" -- meaning the Bush Administration and Congress -- seems to have already come up with the answer. For future disasters, send in the Marines -- and the Army, Navy and Air Force.
In response to reporters' questions, President Bush said, "I want there to be a robust discussion about the best way for the federal government, in certain extreme circumstances, to be able to rally assets for the good of the people." He went on to ask, "Is there a natural disaster of a certain size that would then enable the Defense Department to become the lead agency in coordinating and leading the response effort?" The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Virginia's "Senior Senator" -- who ought to know better -- has said, "I believe the time has come that we reflect on the Posse Comitatus Act," in urging that the president and secretary of defense be given "correct standby authorities" to manage natural and perhaps man-made disasters.
These are the reactions of national leaders -- and many in the public -- who were misled by the hyperventilated claims of local politicians and authorities that "more than 10,000 are probably dead," that "rapes and murders" were occurring in the Superdome and that "all law and order have broken down" in New Orleans. We now know that the death toll is a fraction of that forecasted by state and local officials. And while there were well-documented cases of looting, the homicides and rampant sexual assaults that were reported -- but never verified -- by the mainstream media were, for the most part, untrue.
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.