This is astounding:

Congress has appropriated $62.3 billion in emergency relief for stricken areas still struggling to meet citizens' basic needs, with most of the money moving through the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). But agency records from late October show nearly $40 billion still sitting in FEMA's disaster-relief fund, including $2 billion in unassigned money intended for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

"Not to underestimate the good intentions of many FEMA employees, but the agency was dysfunctional eight weeks ago and it's dysfunctional today," said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

The story goes into detail about the politics behind Katrina aid, including this interesting tidbit about how right-wing "anti-tax" groups fought to boost unaccountable spending of taxpayer dollars by contractors:

The micropurchases that Katrina contractors can charge on government credit cards without preapproval set off a political firestorm of their own after a successful campaign by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and other lobbying groups to raise the micropurchase limit. A new provision showed up in the second Katrina supplemental that raised from $2,500 to $250,000 the upper limit for small purchases that would not require prior approval. The provision, which applied even to non-disaster spending, was stripped out by [Sen. Susan] Collins and ranking member Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).