KATRINA

FEMA Blows It Again

If there's one thing Americans have learned about the Bush administration, it's that they really did not like testing for dangerous chemicals. First it was lower Manhattan after 9/11, where reports accused the White House of hiding toxins in the air, and now it's the Gulf Coast, where a federal inspector general's report claims that FEMA ignored formaldehyde problems in emergency housing-units for hurricane refugees then exaggerated efforts to confront the problem. The 80-page report portrays FEMA as slow to action, incompetent, and obsessed with its public image, writing that the agency only was moved to action after media scrutiny "grew to disturbing levels" and even delayed testing to come up with a PR strategy first. "Because of the delays, the test results may have underestimated the extent of formaldehyde exposure that residents had experienced," the report says.