Bush takes full responsiblity for Katrina blunders

By LARA JAKES JORDAN
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – President Bush said Tuesday that “I take responsibility” for failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina and said the disaster raised broader questions about the government's ability to respond to natural disasters as well as terror attacks.

“Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government,” Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.

“To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility,” Bush said.

The president was asked whether people should be worried about the government's ability to handle another terrorist attack given failures in responding to Katrina.

“Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond,” Bush replied.

He said he wanted to know both what went wrong and what went right.

As for blunders in the federal response, “I'm not going to defend the process going in,” Bush said. “I am going to defend the people saving lives.”

He praised relief workers at all levels. “I want people in America to understand how hard people worked to save lives down there,” he said.

Bush spoke after R. David Paulison, the new acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, pledged to intensify efforts to find more permanent housing for the tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors now in shelters.