Although I'm tired of being reactive, let me take a moment and respond to this current winger meme that the problem with the response to Katrina lies with State and local government officials. And in my traditional fashion, I use facts. The major source is the federal government itself. The full version of the National Reponse Base Plan and Appendices (PDF, 426 pages, 4MB) including all annexes, "Emergency Support Function Annexes", "Support Annexes", and "Incident Annexes" released in January of 2005 by the Department of Homeland Security provides guidance here. (See what I do for you people?)
After some nonsense and prefaces about how generally the response to events should be pushed to the lowest level possible, we find a section entitled Proactive Federal Response to Catastrophic Events
The NRP establishes policies, procedures, and mechanisms for proactive Federal response to catastrophic events. A catastrophic event is any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or
disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions. A catastrophic event could result in sustained national impacts over a prolonged period of time; almost immediately exceeds resources normally available to State, local, tribal, and private-sector authorities in the impacted area; and significantly interrupts governmental operations and emergency services to such an extent that national security could be threatened. All catastrophic events are Incidents of National Significance.
Would any of you doubt for a moment that the current crisis meets this definition? Not sure? Ok.
Protocols for proactive Federal response are most likely to be implemented for catastrophic events involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive weapons of mass destruction, or large magnitude earthquakes or other natural or technological disasters in or near heavily populated areas.
So there should have been a proactive government response. No need to wait, to be invited in, to bicker over jurisdiction. This was an event that required proactive federal intervention. And what should that intervention accomplish you might ask?
The primary mission is to save lives; protect critical infrastructure, property, and the environment; contain the event; and preserve national security.
There you have it. The very first thing the federal government should do is save lives. In black and white, plain and simple.