Tony Blankley
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Putting aside, for the moment only, which individuals are guilty of malfeasance in office, it is undeniable that the system America established for disaster relief failed miserably last week -- and thousands of Americans died because of it.

 In varying degrees, the responsibility for the calamity runs from the president of the United States, to state and local officials, to bureaucrats, to individual citizens of the Gulf who were able to but didn't evacuate, to current and prior presidents and Congresses who failed to fund projects, to the media prior to the event, which failed to adequately chastise politicians and inform the public of the coming danger.

 While officials high and low must -- and will -- be held accountable for their share of the fault, the big lesson learned is that the American system, with all its wealth, capacity, checks and balances, and vigorous free speech, failed to avoid the disaster.

 Many individuals shouted loudly, in advance (sometimes for years), about the coming danger, but one can distill America's overall, collective failure to a number of misjudgments.

 Collectively, the country: 1) failed to listen to credible warnings, 2) assumed that our good luck would continue unabated, 3) failed to adequately assess the magnitude and likelihood of the danger, and 4) permitted the compelling pressures and benefits of business as usual to drive from its mind a serious consideration of a radical, bad change from the status quo.

 In short, we were complacent. Actually preparing -- and paying for -- prevention or protection from a likely calamitous event was so appalling that we simply ignored it. Psychologists call it denial. The news calls it 10,000 or more dead Americans.

 Many commentators, and members of the public, have quickly noted that if emergency services are so rotten for a hurricane or flood, what does this say about our preparations for terrorist attacks in the future. They rightly ask what the federal government has been doing these last four years since Sept. 11.

 These thoughts about the terrorist threat have been troubling me for some time, as my regular readers and viewers are aware. And by chance, my book on this topic, "The West's Last Chance" (Regnery Publishing), is to be published this weekend, Sept. 11. But the danger of muddled thinking and preparation for the terrorist threat goes far beyond even the major responsibilities and failures of FEMA.

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Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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