Whose Authority?

by James S. Robbins

Just for reference, the respective state/federal responsibilities for incident response are laid out in Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 5, Section 6, to whit:


(6) The Federal Government recognizes the roles and responsibilities of State and local authorities in domestic incident management. Initial responsibility for managing domestic incidents generally falls on State and local authorities. The Federal Government will assist State and local authorities when their resources are overwhelmed, or when Federal interests are involved. The Secretary will coordinate with State and local governments to ensure adequate planning, equipment, training, and exercise activities. The Secretary will also provide assistance to State and local governments to develop all-hazards plans and capabilities, including those of greatest importance to the security of the United States, and will ensure that State, local, and Federal plans are compatible.

Note that some of the “blame Bush” crowd are trying to read section 4 of this directive to argue that the President had the authority to act unilaterally without state permission, showing that they don’t understand Federalism, not to mention what a policy directive is. But it’s interesting that they have found a form of unilateralism that they like.

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