Disaster: A Look at the Response and Recovery One Year after Katrina
Robert Block, Homeland Security Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal
Christopher Cooper, National Political Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal
Oliver M. Thomas, Jr., President, New Orleans City Council
P.J. Crowley, Senior Fellow and Director of National Defense and Homeland Security, Center for American Progress.
In their book Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security, Christopher Cooper and Robert Block provide a perspective that challenges conventional wisdom regarding Hurricane Katrina. The federal homeland security architecture put in place after 9/11 failed; however, this failure was not inevitable. The disaster unfolded as experts had predicted, many of whom were within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) itself. A hurricane much like Katrina was among 15 catastrophe planning scenarios that DHS knew it must be prepared for, but, when the test came, DHS was not ready.
The largely ineffective federal response was in large part due to poor communication both at the federal level and between federal, state, and local organizations. DHS lacked situational awareness at critical times, even though there was plenty of information flowing up the chain of command that accurately described the unfolding disaster. This resulting loss of 24-36 hours in response time turned Katrina into a national tragedy.
Please join us for a panel discussion using the benefits of hindsight to address what went wrong one year ago and how this disaster reflects on the current state of homeland security. The authors of Disaster will be joined by PJ Crowley and Oliver Thomas in evaluating the current state of recovery along the Gulf Coast and the extent of the challenges that lay ahead.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Program: 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Admission is free
Lunch will be served at 12:30
The National Press Club
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC, 20045
Map and Directions
Nearest Metro: Blue, Orange or Red Line to Metro Center
- Introduction by P.J. Crowley
- Christopher Cooper
- Robert Block
- Oliver M. Thomas, Jr.
- Panel Discussion
- Q and A
Robert Block, of Miami, Florida, is the Homeland Security Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, based in Washington D.C. He joined the Journal in April 1997 as the Africa correspondent and was named to his current position in September 2003. Block is co-author of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security, published by Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, in August 2006. For more than 25 years Block has lived in or covered conflict, wars and disasters in Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq, Iran, the former Yugoslavia, Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Macedonia, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. From 1982 to 1990, he worked for Reuters, first as Mexico correspondent and then as El Salvador Bureau chief, and than as a global reporter. In 1990, he became the assistant foreign editor for the Independent in London. In 1992, was named the paper’s chief foreign correspondent. He became the Africa correspondent for the Independent in 1995 and soon after joined the London Sunday Times. From 1993-1996, he was also a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. His numerous awards and honors include the following: the 2005 Society of Publishers in Asia Excellence in Reporting Award for the coverage of the Asian tsunami; the 2004 Elizabeth Neuffer Award for a story about the woeful state of United Nations peace-keeping operations; part of the staff contribution team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news; the 1996 Amnesty International Award for Human Rights Reporting for his coverage of the fall of Srebrenica in Bosnia; and the 1996 Foreign Media Award from the British Overseas Correspondents Association. Mr Block is nuts about his family, guitars, motorcycles and Labrador Retrievers. Everything else is just work.
Christopher Cooper is the co-author of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security, published by Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, in August 2006. Southern by upbringing and sensibility, Christopher Cooper has been a newspaper reporter for more than 20 years, and has covered a score of storms, named and unnamed over that period. A longtime staff writer for The New Orleans Times-Picayune, Mr. Cooper is well-versed in the folkways of Louisiana. As a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he has been for seven years, Mr. Cooper has covered the Middle East, continental Europe and Washington D.C. as a White House correspondent. He currently lives in Washington with his wife, a New Orleans native, and their five-year-old son.
Councilmember Oliver M. Thomas, Jr. began his career in public service in 1986, serving as a Legislative Aide to then District B Councilmember Jim Singleton. In 1990, he joined the Downtown Development District as Capital Projects Manager. In 1994, Mr. Thomas was elected Councilmember for District B. Reelected in 1998, he is currently serving his second term. Understanding the special needs of children in our community, Councilmember Thomas founded the Boys-To-Men Program for youth ages 8 to 18, who primarily reside in single parent households. He recruited role models who tutored, counseled, and accompanied the young men to ball games and other activities, leading them on a positive, hope-filled path toward adulthood. Today, Boys-To-Men, which is run by a Board of Directors, has expanded to include numerous schools throughout the community. Due to the Boys-To-Men Program’s success, Councilmember Thomas has instituted the mentoring program in schools in District B, partnering with members of the Central Business District. He has also formed the Youth Literacy Coalition, which encourages children within both the school and family settings. Mr. Thomas has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Dryades YMCA, Bridge House, Each One Save One, Kingsley House, Volunteers of America, and Touro Infirmary. He has been a member of the Adoption 2000 Initiative Task Force, the YMCA Educational Services Board of Managers, and the Junior League Advisory Board. In addition, he is a former president of the New Orleans Home Mortgage Authority and former vice-president of the Senior Companion Program for the Council on Aging. For his civic and community efforts, Councilmember Thomas has received numerous honors, including the Legislator of the Year Award from the Alliance for Good Government, and the Jefferson Award for Community Service from WDSU-TV. Mr. Thomas is a graduate of the College of Santa Fe, and is a Fellow of the Loyola University Institute of Politics. He is married to the former Angelle Laraque, and they have one daughter.
Philip J. (P.J.) Crowley is a Senior Fellow and Director of National Defense and Homeland Security at the Center for American Progress. During the Clinton administration, Crowley was Special Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security Affairs, serving as Senior Director of Public Affairs for the National Security Council. Prior to that, he was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. In all, Crowley was a spokesman for the United States government and United States military for 28 years, 11 at the Pentagon and three at the White House. He served for 26 years in the United States Air Force, retiring at the rank of colonel in September 1999. He is a veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During the Kosovo conflict, he was temporarily assigned to work with then NATO Secretary General Javier Solana. Prior to joining American Progress, he served as a national spokesman for the property/casualty insurance industry, focusing on strategic industry issues that included the impact of terrorism on commercial insurance in the aftermath of the World Trade Center tragedy and to the effect of asbestos litigation on the broader economy. A native of Massachusetts, P.J. is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and an avid Red Sox fan and golfer. He is married to Paula E. Kougeas, also a retired Air Force colonel and now a teacher. They live in Alexandria, Virginia with their children, Mary and Christopher.