The deaths and suffering of thousands of Hurricane Katrina's victims might have been avoided if the government had heeded lessons from the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and had taken a proactive stance toward disaster preparedness, a Republican-led House inquiry concluded.

But from President Bush on down to local officials, there was largely a reactive posture to the catastrophic Aug. 29 storm--even when faced with early warnings about its deadly potential.

A 520-page report, titled "A Failure of Initiative," was released Feb. 15 as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testified before a


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