The September 11 attacks triggered federal policy changes designed to influence emergency management in the United States, even though these attacks did not suggest a need for a wholesale restructuring of federal policy in emergency management. Instead, for several reasons, federal policy's emphasis on terrorism and emergency management significantly degraded the nation's ability to address natural disasters. The federal government sought to create a top-down, command and control model of emergency management that never fully accounted for, positively or normatively, the way local emergency management works in practice. The Obama administration will have to address the questions raised by the reorganization of federal emergency management responsibilities. While the context in which these changes have occurred is unique to the U.S. federal system, there are interesting implications for emergency management in nonfederal systems. Copyright 2009 by The Policy Studies Organization.