09 September 2005

General Powell speaks out

Powell slams hurricane response

Colin Powell has been mentioned as a potential "hurricane czar."

Colin Powell, the former secretary of state seen as a potential leader for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, has joined the chorus of Americans criticising the disaster response at all levels of government.

"There have been a lot of failures at a lot of levels -- local, state and federal," Powell said in an ABC interview for the "20/20" program to be broadcast on Friday evening.

Political figures from both major parties have assailed the slow response to the hurricane's assault last week on the Gulf Coast, which devastated New Orleans and killed hundreds, possibly thousands, in the region.

"There was more than enough warning over time about the dangers to New Orleans. Not enough was done. I don't think advantage was taken of the time that was available to us, and I just don't know why," Powell said in excerpts on ABC's Web site.

He said he did not think that race was a factor in the slow response, but that many of those unable to leave New Orleans in time were trapped by poverty which disproportionately affects blacks.

"I don't think it's racism, I think it's economic," Powell said. "But poverty disproportionately affects African-Americans in this country. And it happened because they were poor."

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