Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to order the Federal Emergency Management Agency to investigate disaster relief programs that occurred after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. Louisiana officials - who have accused FEMA of foot dragging - welcome the probe. They think it may bring more federal money to their state.
We agree with Napolitano that an objective report on hurricane relief efforts should be prepared. But the investigation should be conducted by someone outside government - perhaps a blue-ribbon panel of experts.
FEMA officials will be under enormous political pressure in regard to their investigation. An outside probe would provide more reliable results - letting the blame fall partly on FEMA and partly on local and state governments, we suspect. Only that sort of impartial investigation will provide good guidance in dealing with the next major natural disaster to hit the United States - and there will be one.