Katrina and the Guard, revisited

Tony Snow blames Kansas, not the war, for a shortage of National Guard equipment.

Published May 8, 2007 4:56PM (EDT)

Stop us if you've heard this one before.

Responding to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' claim that the war in Iraq has left her state's National Guard underquipped to deal with the aftermath of deadly tornadoes there, White House press secretary Tony Snow is ... blaming Sebelius.

As the Associated Press reports, Snow says that Sebelius didn't follow the proper procedures for identifying National Guard equipment shortages and asking that they be addressed. "If you don't request it, you're not going to get it," he said.

Sebelius says she has, in fact, asked the Pentagon to replace Kansas-based equipment that's now in Iraq -- and that she spoke with the president himself about the issue in January 2006. "What the Defense Department said then and continues to say is that states will get about 90 percent of what they had," Sebelius says. "Meanwhile, it doesn't get any better. I'm at a loss."

A Kansas National Guard official says the state currently has about 40 percent of the equipment it's supposed to have; before the war in Iraq began, it had about 60 percent of its required equipment available.

White House protestations to the contrary, a report commissioned by the Pentagon in the wake of Hurricane Katrina concluded that a "major factor in the delayed response to the hurricane aftermath was that the bulk of the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard was deployed in Iraq."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room