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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 21, 2005
Press Briefing by Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Fran Townsend
James S. Brady Briefing Room
11:10 A.M. EDT
MS. TOWNSEND: Good morning, everybody. On September 15th, when the President spoke to the nation from Jackson Square, Louisiana, he pledged that -- quote -- "this government will learn the lessons of Katrina." He said we would review every action and make necessary changes so that we're better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men, that could threaten our people.
The President also ordered every Cabinet Secretary to participate in this comprehensive review of the government response to Katrina. At the President's direction, on September 16th, Secretary Card sent a memo to each Cabinet agency asking them to designate a senior point of contact. And the President tasked myself, working with the Homeland Security Council, to lead this review effort.
The review effort has been up and running. On September 19th, the President had a Homeland Security Council meeting where he talked again about the importance of a comprehensive review, and all of the agencies cooperating with it. And I must say that the cooperation and commitment of the Cabinet Secretaries has been extraordinary.
On September -- we had our first -- I had hosted my first meeting of the Cabinet Secretaries, the Homeland Security Council principals on September 23rd, and then, pursuant to Secretary Card's memo, I hosted, on September 30th, a meeting of the senior points of contact from the various federal departments and agencies. I then sent out a request for additional assistance and information on October 3rd. The task force here at the White House -- obviously, to undertake a responsibility of this size, I needed additional staff. I did not want in any way to overburden the Homeland Security Council regular staff, given the breadth of their responsibilities, and so I asked for additional staff from the departments and agencies.
There are 12 people working on the task force. The person leading it is an individual who works for me here at the White House on the Homeland Security staff, and then there are 11 detailees to the effort from across the federal government. They meet on a daily basis. I meet with them and get updates several times a week, and direct their experience -- their effort. They are all experienced professionals.
I am planning to travel to Louisiana and Alabama* next week to have a discussion with state and local officials and get their feedback on what the lessons learned should be. Next month -- early next month, I'll travel to Texas,* Mississippi and Florida. That's tentative and we're working on dates that accommodate state and local officials.
In the October 3rd memo that I mentioned, there were a number of areas I suggested that the internal reviews of the departments and agencies focus on: as you know, the appropriate role of the United States military in a catastrophic event, the communications both within agencies and between agencies, as well as with state and locals.
It's clear we want to quickly identify and fix problems and not play a blame game. We have already begun to take things that we understood were problems in the Katrina response and begin to recalibrate to try and fix them in subsequent disasters like Rita, and as we prepare and work with state and local officials in Wilma. Lessons are what the President wants, not finger-pointing. He is less interested in last time. The President has made perfectly clear that he was not satisfied with our response last time; his concern is with the next time, and ensuring that we strengthen our response capability to make sure we are both more efficient and effective. We will make incremental policy changes to improve our nation's emergency response and capability, and not wait until the end of the review.
Despite the problems, I feel I really want to take this opportunity to say to you there were some things that went right. There were thousands of federal workers and state and local officials and first responders who were true heroes and saved thousands of lives in Katrina. The Coast Guard is but one example. You heard Secretary Chertoff's testimony. They saved -- they were involved in 33,500 lifesaving missions, which is more than six times their calendar average.
With that, I'm happy to take your questions.
Q What do you make of the -- in terms of mistakes that were made and lessons learned and trying in the future to alleviate some of those problems, what do you make of the testimony that was given by FEMA's point person in New Orleans on the Hill yesterday? It seemed like people at the very top of FEMA weren't listening.
MS. TOWNSEND: Look, it's very concerning. And part of what we're doing now is trying to do the fact-gathering. We're trying to understand what were the significant and critical events, and how could there be such a gap in communications, and what do we need to do to make sure we've fixed it.
We've sent more people downrange in the catastrophe now to make sure we're getting these sort of facts off the ground, to have accurate situational awareness, because, after all, good facts make for better decision-making. We need to look at that carefully. I have not gone through the complete testimony yet, but that certainly will be part of review.
Q I guess the one thing that really stuck out was his email on Wednesday to Brown's assistant, and the assistant said, Mike Brown is having dinner, we can't bother him now. And the guy said, well, I just ate an MRE and used the toilet in the halls of the Superdome, so I can understand your concerns with busy restaurants. But, I mean, it sounds like you may have had a big problem here with Katrina, and the problem was the guy who was in charge, and the people around him.
MS. TOWNSEND: Well, Secretary Chertoff replaced Mr. Brown with Admiral Thad Allen --
Q Things have gone pretty well since then, right?
MS. TOWNSEND: -- and we need to understand -- I'm not going to prejudge it. I had the same concerns that you're expressing when I saw that part of his testimony, and we need to really dig down and understand what exactly happened there so we can fix it.
Q Fran, in the other part of his testimony, he said that there was a systemic failure at all levels of government. In what you've looked at so far, what you've heard from people so far, do you think that reaches to the White House and to the President?
MS. TOWNSEND: The answer is a bad information flow at all levels will result in less than good, solid decision-making. And I think it's too early for me to say, because I don't have a comprehensive chronology yet. We're building that and it's getting stronger every day. I want to see that. But the President has made perfectly clear, if there are mistakes, wherever they are and wherever the problems are, we're to identify them, regardless of where that leads us. And we will go wherever the facts lead us.
Q Just one follow-up, if you don't mind. You talked about not wanting to finger-point. But you have to point fingers at someone and some things and some -- in order to fix things. So why the disconnect?
MS. TOWNSEND: I don't think there is a disconnect. Here's how I -- I'm not suggesting -- you will find -- I'm reading lessons learned in other context to understand how people did it, and I've talked to the United States military, which is the agency of government that's got the most experience right now with lessons learned. The answer is, we will -- you do need a narrative of facts to emphasize particular points and particular weaknesses. And to that extent -- I didn't mean to suggest -- there will be facts we need to use and to point to, to explain what the problem is, and how a particular recommendation solves that problem. So I'm not -- I'm gathering facts because I need them to make -- it really underscores your point -- but what I'm saying to you is, I'm not going to -- I refuse to be dragged down into a blame game and a finger-pointing exercise. That's not my role. And frankly, what I need to be able to do is to identify the systemic and process and procedural problems that resulted in the failures.
Q Fran, you talked about lessons learned. You've got another hurricane right now hovering down around Yucatan, which will probably end up making a beeline for Florida. What are some of the lessons learned thus far that might have to be applied and might be very applicable to the hurricane when it hits Florida? How is FEMA going to handle that?
MS. TOWNSEND: Well, for the specific details of this, I would refer you to DHS. But let me talk a little bit about some examples of things we understand. We are deploying more communications gear, both through FEMA and DOD, down into the affected areas. We have NORTHCOM planners now stationed at FEMA Headquarters here in Washington, D.C. that we didn't have the last time, to make sure that the connection between the military and civilian authority, federal authority in this country is closer.
We have -- we've got people downrange in Florida working with state and local officials who I would emphasize are in the lead. We are there in support. The Governor has made clear what assistance he needs or does not need, and so, based on Governor Bush's requirements, we are positioned to meet them more effectively and efficiently, based on what we did the last time.
Q Given what you have heard so far, what would you say were some of the most egregious failures that occurred, and that perhaps need to be remedied right away?
MS. TOWNSEND: You know, you're going to find me to be pretty cautious. I think it's a mistake to try and jump to conclusions early on, before you've got all the facts. And so I'm reluctant to get into -- to start cherry-picking things off one at a time, before I have all the facts. I will say to you, the one that I think everybody understands and is apparent from the way it unfolded is the failure of communications. At the beginning of this we talked about one that is internal to DHS, but I expect that we will find -- whether it's across federal agencies, or with the state and locals, I think the thing we have to absolutely find ways to fix, and that's why I mentioned it, as we prepare for Wilma, having people in Florida, working with state and locals, having an enhanced presence there. That's the single most important thing, because I think it really affects the decision-making process.
Q Is that the only lesson that you can say that you've learned so far?
MS. TOWNSEND: No, and it's not fair. What I said was I wasn't going to draw -- I was not going to get pulled into drawing early conclusions before I had all the facts. I used that as an example of one of them, but I'm not going to go through a litany a little bit at a time --
Q I guess what I'm asking is, could you give us, say, the top -- you have been at this a couple weeks now. Could you give us the top three lessons that you think you've taken away from this exercise so far?
MS. TOWNSEND: Let me caveat it this way. I'm reluctant to say it's the top three, because when I come back in here in a month to give you an update because you want more information, you're going to say, those aren't the three you gave me last month.
Q I'll take any three. (Laughter.)
MS. TOWNSEND: Okay. Information flow is one. And we're working every day to fix that now. Communications, both public and internal to the federal government, and with state and locals and first responders, is another -- sort of a persistent issue that we need to make stronger and better. Are the current authorities of the government adequate to deal -- legal authorities adequate? We're looking at the Stafford Act and the Insurrection Act. Do we need additional or different authorities as relates to the appropriate use of the United States military. These are all the sort of -- these are baskets, if you will, of issues. And there's a lot in each of those, but I think that those are consistent themes that we hear across the government and from state and locals that we need to look at.
Q What about competent leadership at the top?
MS. TOWNSEND: I think you've got -- I have to tell you, first you've got to decide the top of what. Are you talking about the top of FEMA, the top of DHS, the top of the federal government? I mean, I think you've got to look at all of that. I mean, I don't think any of that is off the board, but I can't -- I'm not going to be drawn in to making preliminary judgments before I have all the facts.
Q Fran, the administration announced that they were going to be funding the levees to pre-Katrina status, I guess, within a year or so, and to waive the costs for states. What is the administration's intention in improving the levee system? Is there a plan for that?
MS. TOWNSEND: This has all got to be part of the long-term reconstruction and planning. What does the population look like; how are they -- where do we rebuild and what -- and a lot of that is a state and local question that remains. And part of those facts will form the basis of a decision.
I will tell you I'm focused on the lessons learned so I can strengthen the response system. And while there are many people focused, rightly, on the reconstruction effort, that really goes to the heart of the reconstruction. I'd prefer that I stay on the lessons learned.
Q There was an anecdote as this was unfolding that somebody had to actually take a DVD to the President to show him examples of news reports. Are you going to be willing and comfortable asking perhaps awkward questions of the President, himself, about whether he's too insulated, or whether he was out of touch with what was going on?
MS. TOWNSEND: The President's feeling on this and his views on this are not a secret. I think he's spoken publicly about his own frustration and his sense that the -- that we were inadequate in the way we handled it. I have spoken both -- I have had the opportunity to speak privately with him. I'm not going to go into those discussions, but he has been very open to having an ongoing dialogue with me and getting -- frankly, he's very personally interested in getting updated as we uncover additional facts and learn lessons. And so he and I have regular conversations about this.
Q But was there a discussion about maybe in the first few days that he wasn't paying close enough attention to the news, or was out of touch for some reason?
MS. TOWNSEND: I am unfamiliar with the particular report you're talking about. If that's true, I'm unaware of it. And I will tell you I'm having ongoing discussions with the President about what information he received and how he received it and whether or not it served his decision-making.
Q When you talk about processes, not wanting to play the blame game and so forth, are you saying that you're not going to focus on human error in looking at this, and that you won't -- that, for example, nobody else will be losing their job over what happened in New Orleans?
MS. TOWNSEND: I can't predict for you what the end result is going to be this early in the process. I can't tell you if I think somebody is going to lose their job, or not. It's not -- the purpose of my review -- and I make the distinction -- look, Congress has got two investigations going on that quite clearly will result in assigning responsibility and blame. And that's for them to do. That's not what I've been asked to do. What I've been asked to do, and it's the focus of my effort, is to look at the system and ensure that we are doing everything in our power to the best of our ability to secure and keep safe the American people.
Q Okay, but the White House would take, if they found somebody extremely culpable on Capitol Hill, the White House would take appropriate action in response to that, wouldn't they?
MS. TOWNSEND: If it resulted in a system -- a part of the system's failure, you can expect we will point to that, as a consequence of that failure, the system failed. So I'm not going to avoid it. All I'm telling you is it's not the focus of my effort. And I think it's important that you understand what my focus is and what I think the mission is of my review.
Q One more if I could. Is there any consideration being given to taking FEMA out of the Department of Homeland Security?
MS. TOWNSEND: The Secretary was asked this yesterday. There are very good reasons to have the response capability in the Department of Homeland Security, and that was a very carefully considered decision at the creation of the department. If there's something about the underlying facts here that causes us to question that, we'll question it. But I've not seen that so far.
Q You mentioned that one of the lessons learned and one of the things you're doing is you have all these point people down in the area, in Florida, to interface with local officials. But that was also done before Katrina. There were FEMA people at all the state operations headquarters, so how is this different?
MS. TOWNSEND: Again, for the specifics in terms of numbers and things, I'd refer to you DHS. But I would tell you my understanding is that it is an enhanced complement of people to work with the federal coordinating officer, as well as the defense coordinating officer.
Q And one other thing. Also, right in the aftermath, there were a lot of problems getting things where they needed to be -- water, supplies, food. How is it going to be different this time? Is there something you learned from that lesson that you're now applying to this hurricane?
MS. TOWNSEND: One of them we related to pre-positioning more and better communications equipment, and we're doing that. And my understanding from the department is that they're pre-positioning more supplies, substantially more supplies than they had before.
Q Yes, a couple of questions. First, when do you expect to make a final report?
MS. TOWNSEND: There is not -- the President didn't assign a deadline. As you can imagine, it's more important that we get it right, as opposed to be making a specific deadline. My goal is to try and hit somewhere between January and December -- December and January.
Q January and December next year?
MS. TOWNSEND: No, no, no, sorry. (Laughter.) Oh, I should be so lucky. (Laughter.) December this year, January next year. Look, you understand the reason for that is you need enough time that if you need legislative change, you want to get into the spring legislative session. You want to -- I think we have a commitment to the American people to make sure that any changes that we need to make are not only in place, but comfortably in place and exercised in advance of the next hurricane season. So it's sort of -- it's a practical -- the imperative in getting this done is a practical common-sense one.
Q Can I get one more? We're two or three days out from this hitting Florida. What would you say is really different this time, two or three days out, than it was before Katrina? What -- you mentioned an increase in the complement of people and maybe some supplies, but what overall picture has changed from the two days out?
MS. TOWNSEND: I'm not -- I've tried to answer that now twice. I obviously haven't satisfied you. The person responsible -- the agency responsible for coordinating with the state and locals is DHS. The Secretary has spoken to the Governor; the Governor has had contact here with the White House. We have really tried to ensure that we are supporting most effectively the needs of the Governor, who is in charge of the response. And he's got it very well in hand. Florida is an extremely experienced state. We have enormous confidence in the Governor and his emergency management staff.
And so if this is -- I think it's important -- what I'm trying to make the point is, it's not a one size fits all. And we've got to be sensitive to that. The President, being a former governor, is acutely aware of that. And so I think it's -- you've got to be careful when you're measuring our response to one state versus another, and what's required of us, because in many ways, that's determined by the state and locals.
Let me try and get to some people who haven't had --
Q Aside from that long-range question of taking FEMA out of Homeland Security, are you looking at all at the emphasis that FEMA has put on terrorism above natural disasters, which has also been a factor in all of this? And do you think that right now there's more of an emphasis on natural disasters for the agency that there was before Katrina?
MS. TOWNSEND: I'm not sure I accept the premise that FEMA has paid more attention to terrorism than natural disasters. Let me talk about capability because I think that's what is important, and I think that's what not only the American people care most about, but our state and local partners care most about.
What we need to understand is what our capability is -- whether it's to a chem-bio attack, a nuclear attack, a hurricane, a cat five. We need to understand what are all the tools we have in responding to any major catastrophic event. When you do that, you can then apply those tools against the particular catastrophic event, regardless of the cause. Some tools apply uniquely to a natural disaster, but many don't. And so the benefit you have in having the Secretary of Homeland Security have all those tools is he's able -- it's a menu, and he can select from that, depending on both the catastrophic event, the state and local response, and what we've been asked to provide. And so that's the importance, that's, frankly, the benefit of having FEMA's capability, as well as others in a single department.
Q And how are you enacting these incremental changes? What's the governmental vehicle, if you will, for doing this? Do you communicate with Chertoff and say, look, I found this out, you should do this? Or is the President doing -- how is this happening?
MS. TOWNSEND: There is -- it depends on -- frankly, it depends on what the issue is. For policy issues, there's a standing policy process here in the Homeland Security Council, much like there is in the National Security Council, where we serve policy options up to the deputies committee, the principals committee, and take it to the President. Look, it's been made perfectly clear, and everyone understands, this will not be a process of consensus. Where there are differing opinions, we will serve it up to the President, just as I did in the Silberman-Robb Commission. If there were differences in opinion, we served them up, and a decision was made and we moved forward towards implementation. But we will use the regular policy process to do that. On those things which there is unanimous agreement just need to be changed, we will just move forward and begin to make those changes. Q On the revision of the Stafford Act and the Insurrection Act, and so on, what's your sense of the need to revise the guidelines for the military's action in these disasters? And what's your reaction to the plan by the Northern Command to have sort of a 911 rescue force based here using active duty troops?
MS. TOWNSEND: Okay, let me -- you've asked me like three questions, so I'm -- let me do my best. I know you'll remind me if I forget one. I don't think I'm -- I'd rather not get into whether or not -- I haven't presumed that there needs to be a revision of Stafford or the Insurrection Act. Frankly, I think it's very important that there be a common understanding about what those authorities are and are not. And so I think you need to look at them.
In terms of the appropriate use of the United States military, I was fascinated by the reaction to this. The President, having been a former governor, is well aware, well understands that the governor is the commander-in-chief within his state and of his National Guard, respects that, and has seen that work the way it's supposed to work, and should work. This was really -- what the President was raising was the possibility that there will be a narrow band of cases that are so catastrophic we ought to expect that it outstrips state and local capability, and we ought to have both the authority and the capability to respond effectively and efficiently, and move out with alacrity. And so the question is, do we need some other narrow set of authority that permits that option to be available. That doesn't mean that -- I hear a lot about the federalization of response. The federal government is never going to be the nation's first responder. We shouldn't be, we don't have the capability to be, and we won't be.
And so to the extent people are worried about sort of overturning years of tradition and cultural sensitivity and sort of our experience, that's not what we're talking about. What we need to be able to -- the question we need to frame and consider is, is there a narrow band of cases where we are expected to come in fast, and what is the capability, then, that we need, and how do you best build it? It's too soon for me to tell you what that looks like, but we are very focused on it, and we owe the President some options.
Q Has the Northern Command come to you with this idea on paper so that you can review it in context of your broader review?
MS. TOWNSEND: I personally have not reviewed the paper that you're referring to, but I'd welcome it. I'm happy to look at it. This is a place where all good ideas and all smart thinking needs to be put on the table, and then we need to have an honest conversation, including with the governors, about how best to frame it.
Q Can you talk a little bit more about the process that you're going through in terms of evaluating what sort of military role might be needed in these ultra-catastrophes, what -- how you're going to be evaluating that question?
MS. TOWNSEND: Well, we've asked both DHS, DOD, as well as other agencies if they have thoughts on this area about how best to frame the problem and then options for solution, to share them with us. We're going to pull that together and try to pull the best of that together for a policy discussion. This is an issue that will absolutely have to go through a deputies and principals process to better frame options for the President.
Q Then how do the governors fit into that?
MS. TOWNSEND: I will raise it in the context of my conversations with the governors, as I go -- as I'm doing the lessons learned. I mentioned I'm going the end of next week to see -- to two states, and then again to others in November. I'll raise it and solicit their ideas, and welcome conversations with other governors who were not in affected states, if they wish to engage with me on the issue.
Q At this point, do you have a sense of whether the National Response Plan worked -- works for catastrophic events, and in this case, was it executed?
MS. TOWNSEND: Yes -- your last question is exactly how you analyze this. First was, the National Response Plan -- my question that I'm looking at in the review -- was it executed as it was written, and second, if not, why not? Lastly, if it was, was it adequate to the task? You sort of have to think of this in a very disciplined way, and I'm going to walk through it in that way. It's too soon for me to tell.
Q And this is a follow-up. Mike Brown has now been reported saying that he called the White House and superiors in Washington Monday, saying he couldn't get a unified command established. He's been reported being told that the levees were broken and that he called the White House immediately after that. Did Mike Brown tell the White House the levees were broken? What did he tell the White House?
MS. TOWNSEND: I have to tell you I am unaware of those specific communications. But obviously, as we gather information, we're gathering it from across the government, including the White House, and if there is some significant fact in there that we need to understand to make sure that we fix the information flow, we're going to do that. But it's all part of understanding the facts to identify the problems and the solutions.
Q One last thing on the working group. Is it right that there were four DOD staffers and three DHS staffers? And if so, does that reflect the primacy or the priority that the administration puts on the Defense Department's role either in the problem, or in the Homeland Security solution, and the role of Homeland Security?
MS. TOWNSEND: I'm glad to say it's good staffing. I was told you were going to ask me this, so I've got the breakdown for you, okay? Here we go. We have four active duty from DOD,* three from DHS -- two civilians and one U.S. Coast Guard officer. I have one person from HHS, from the Public Health Service, one from the Department of Justice, one from FBI, and one from the Department of Transportation. That doesn't include the individual who works for me who leads the effort.
This was not a question of the primacy of one over the other. I'd like to say I have primacy over the process, and those people who are there are not working right now, in terms of taking tasking, for their home agency. They're working for me. And this does not reflect the primacy of one agency over the other. I have actually been quite impressed with the cooperativeness, the collegiality of the review. It's a single effort, and the thing that makes it that way is every one of the Cabinet Secretaries is absolutely committed to making the system better. The State Department, Secretary Rice has offered two people who will work with me part-time, as we get to issues that are relevant to them, as well as other agencies have made offers just like that. So the fact that you don't see an agency on here doesn't mean they haven't offered or aren't working. This -- all I've given you is the full-time staff.
Q Why more from DOD than Homeland?
MS. TOWNSEND: I know you're looking for some great answer to this. It was not designed -- it wasn't like I said, I want four from DOD and three from DHS. It's -- what I was looking for was the appropriate expertise to bring to the issue, and that's how it shook out. There was no greater reason to it.*
Q In terms of the National Response Plan, who implemented it? Was that Chertoff? Did he make the move to trigger that plan? And what role did your office have the day before Katrina, the day of Katrina, going forward? Exactly what went on in here, in the White House?
MS. TOWNSEND: The National Response Plan is triggered by the declaration of an incident of national significance. That's triggered by Secretary Chertoff. You should know, well before that, before Katrina hit, the state emergency declarations had already occurred. Secretary Chertoff had already -- he was standing up the incident management group out of DHS. And so there was a lot of activity already occurring. Precise time lines to that are being sort of gathered as we speak.
But I said earlier, the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the other federal departments and agencies, have operational responsibility. As you know, the policy councils here at the White House are coordinating bodies. The Homeland Security Council, like other staffs here at the White House, was very busy and very involved before Katrina hit. And I have responsibilities both for counterterrorism and for homeland security. My homeland security responsibilities include counterterrorism, response to natural disasters, and we were fully engaged at the time.
I will tell you that -- have no doubt about it, if there are ways that my staff, in their coordination of the federal agencies, failed, I will call it as I see it. And that includes me. If there is something I should have done that I didn't do, you will hear that from me.
Q Has Mike Brown, himself, been cooperative in this review?
MS. TOWNSEND: I have not had an opportunity to speak to Mr. Brown; I have not asked for the opportunity to speak to Mr. Brown yet. I'm really in the process now of pulling the documents back in and trying to establish the facts, before I go out and have conversations.
Q Do you plan to ask at some point? It seems logical that you would want to speak with someone who was so involved.
MS. TOWNSEND: It's too soon for me to say. I'm trying to gather the facts first, and then I will begin to talk to people across the federal government, both current employees and former employees.
Q There's a fundamental question I've had since August 29th. We've heard the President say this was not a normal hurricane; there were plenty of other people saying we weren't expecting this, we weren't up to the task. But the worst-case scenario has been gamed out in New Orleans for decades, including the Hurricane Pam simulation a year ago. It was well-known the track this hurricane was on; it was well-known the strength; there were video conferences with the Hurricane Center and the administration two days prior to landfall. The fundamental question that's been nagging at me is, why was this such a surprise?
MS. TOWNSEND: Well, it's interesting that you should say that. There were video conferences, and the sense of everyone who had been involved at that point was that we were appropriately positioned and we had the right mechanisms in place. It turned out we were all wrong. We had not adequately anticipated. That said, as you know from looking at the tracks of the hurricanes, oftentimes, they reduce in strength before they hit based on sort of the fundamental science of it. There had been hurricanes and tropical storms in the region. The thing that changed this was not Katrina, itself. The thing that was the catastrophic event was the failure of the levee.
MS. TOWNSEND: And so --
Q Pam's simulation predicted that almost down to the neighborhoods that would get flooded.
MS. TOWNSEND: Right, and we have to --
Q And that was a category three hurricane.
MS. TOWNSEND: And we have to understand if there were lessons that should have been taken from that, why weren't they? This is all part of -- there were prior GAO reports about emergency preparedness and response. There have been a number of studies, and we have to look at what recommendations were made, what were taken, what weren't, and what, perhaps, should have been acted on or taken more seriously. Okay, thanks, everybody.
END 11:42 A.M. EDT
* Will travel to Louisiana and Texas next week, and Alabama, Mississippi and Florida next month.
* Correction: From DOD, three active duty military and one civilian from the Pentagon.
* At this time, DOD has the most lessons learned expertise and experience in the federal government.