Bush Says He'll Find Out What Went Wrong
Sep 06 11:36 AM US/Eastern
By WILL LESTER
Associated Press Writer
Buffeted by criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush said Tuesday he will oversee an investigation into what went wrong and why _ in part to be sure the country could withstand more storms or attack.
Bush also announced he is sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the Gulf Coast region on Thursday to help determine whether the government is doing all that it can.
"Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people," the president said after a meeting at the White House with his Cabinet on storm recovery efforts.
"What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong," Bush said. "We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm."
But Bush said now is not the time to point fingers and he did not respond to calls for a commission to investigate the response.
"One of the things people want us to do here is play the blame game," he said. "We got to solve problems. There will be ample time to figure out what went right and what went wrong."
Bush was devoting most of his day to the recovery effort. After the Cabinet meeting, he was gathering with the congressional leaders, representatives of charitable organizations and with Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to talk about assistance for displaced students and closed schools.
McClellan said the president also was increasing what he described as a sizable personal contribution to the Red Cross and also was sending money to the Salvation Army.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., had told reporters Monday that the Homeland Security Committee would convene hearings as Congress returns this week to examine the "weaknesses and strengths" of the federal response and to "apply the lessons learned."
There has been heavy criticism of the government's response to the hurricane, and city and state officials, Republicans and Democrats have assailed the Federal Emergency Management Agency led by Michael Brown. Bush, during an inspection tour of the devastated region last Friday, praised Brown, telling him, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
Bush did not respond directly when asked if anyone on his disaster response team should be replaced.
The president said that he and his Cabinet members were focused on planning in several areas of immediate need _ restoring basic services to affected areas, draining the water from New Orleans, removing debris, assessing public health and safety threats and housing for those displaced by the storm. "Most importantly," Bush said, officials are trying to figure out how to get Social Security checks to people now scattered across the country in private homes, churches and other shelters.
"This administration is not going to rest until every life is saved, until every family is reconnected, until the recovery is complete," he said.