Not content with its abyssmal blundering during the worst days of the Hurricane Katrina crisis, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has added a new outrage to its shameful record: It has suspended the Phoenix Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue team from deploying to disaster areas for rescue operations.
The reason? Four Phoenix police officers, who had deployed with the team to the flooded and dangerous city of New Orleans were seen to be — gasp — armed!
Never mind that the four individuals in question were full-time, sworn law-enforcement officers. Never mind that they had been sworn in by another federal agency, the U.S. Marshals Service, as deputy U.S. marshals so they could bear their weapons outside their home jurisdiction. Never mind that rescuers responding to the tragedy had repeatedly come under fire from looters and criminals in the anarchic hell New Orleans had become.
And never mind that the team they were guarding plucked more than 400 survivors of the hurricane from the rooftops and freeway overpasses on which they had been trapped.
The crucial thing, according to FEMA's bigwigs, is that by being armed, the Phoenix officers violated one of their rules — and thus compromised their obsessive quest for total control of rescue operations.
FEMA's greed for control seems to be of a great deal more importance to the agency than actually helping anyone. As the Ludwig von Mises Institute recently noted, at the height of the crisis FEMA “prevented the Coast Guard from delivering fuel and the Red Cross from delivering food, barred morticians from entering New Orleans, blocked a 500-boat flotilla from delivering aid, and ignored a Navy ship equipped with a 600-bed hospital.”
Perhaps FEMA should, as the Von Mises Institute suggested, simply be shut down and gotten out of everybody's way — for, as Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said Monday, “This is crazy.”