Friday, July 20, 2007

Adding Injury to Insult

Just when we think we have heard enough of the ways in which the Federal Government has denied the humanity of the survivors of Katrina, preferring to treat them as objects manipulated by the machinery of their bureaucratic operations, we discover that there are still more gnurrs waiting to "come from the voodverk out" (if only they could wreak the destructive power endowed upon them by author Reginald Brentnor on those bureaucrats)! The latest report comes from Associated Press writer Charles Babington:

Lawyers for the government's disaster relief agency discouraged officials from pursuing reports that trailers housing hurricane victims had dangerous levels of formaldehyde, according to documents released Thursday.

Lawmakers said they were infuriated. At a House hearing, they listened to three trailer occupants whose families suspect formaldehyde is to blame for their various illnesses.

Democrats and Republicans criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its limited inspections or tests of trailers whose occupants reported various respiratory problems.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenaed records showing that agency lawyers warned officials of potential liability problems if tests suggested government negligence.

"It's sickening and the exact opposite of what government should be," said the committee chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. "It is impossible to read the FEMA documents and not be infuriated."

This is beyond chutzpah (which is just as well, since this week's award already has a deserving recipient). This is far closer to the reduce-the-surplus-population philosophy of Ebenezer Scrooge. Perhaps it is about time that we move beyond the formalities of oversight to the nitty-gritty of criminal investigations!

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