Friday :: Feb 10, 2006

Heckuva Job Brownie Bites Back – Slams Chertoff And Administration


by Steve


This will be one of those days that Karl Rove has dreaded. And when the first and possibly least damaging of several stories deals with the Arabian horse association official you put in charge of FEMA, you can see how bad the rest of the day must be.

Top Department of Homeland Security officials were told that New Orleans was flooding just a few hours after Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, former disaster chief Michael Brown said Friday, contradicting previous statements by agency officials who said they did not know the magnitude of the problem until the next day.
“I find it a little disingenuous,” Michael Brown, who at the time headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told a Senate oversight committee. “For them to claim that we didn’t have awareness of it is just baloney.”
You mean that Bush, Card, and Chertoff have been lying all this time about what they knew and when they knew it? Brownie better not fly in small planes anytime soon.
The comments came as a timeline of e-mails and reports complied by the committee showed that the federal government could have acted sooner to help victims of the flooding.
Uh-oh.
The Republican chair of the committee shared that view of the department.
Homeland Security, which in 2003 absorbed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “must answer” to the failures, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said at the start of the hearing.
Collins said the department reacted with a “slow, sometimes hesitant response” as the disaster unfolded.
Brown, in his opening statement, said folding FEMA into Homeland Security created “a culture clash” and proved to be “the fatal flaw” since the department had terrorism prevention, not disaster response, as its top priority.
“There was a culture clash that didn’t recognize the absolute inherent science of preparing for a disaster,” he told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. “Any time you break that cycle ... you’re doomed to failure.”
The policies and decisions implemented by the DHS put FEMA on a path to failure,” he added.
Collins asked Brown why he did not implement pre-Katrina reforms that a consultant urged FEMA to take, among them fewer political appointees and more experts.
Brown blamed Homeland Security, saying that “we were never given the money, never given the resources, never given the opportunity to implement” those reforms.
Keep in mind that the Bush Administration kept Brownie on the payroll for a while as a six-figure consultant in order to prepare his response and offer the administration’s assistance for these hearings. And this is what the Bush Administration has paid for.

Hell, they even got Joe Lieberman to shake off the pixie dust and hold the administration accountable.

The timeline released ahead of the hearings showed that the earliest official report of a New Orleans levee breach came at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 29, just a few hours after Hurricane Katrina roared ashore. Word of the possible breach surfaced at the White House less than three hours later, at 11:13 a.m.
The Bush administration has said it only knew definitively early Tuesday, Aug. 30, the day after the storm, that the levees had been breached, based on an Army Corps of Engineers assessment.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, the senior Democrat on the committee, said its investigation had uncovered 28 communications to and from state, local, federal and private sources throughout the day on Aug. 29 saying the levees had breached or that massive flooding had forced people onto rooftops.
“The first communication came at 8:30 a.m. (on Monday). So it is inexplicable to me how those responsible for the federal response could have woken up Tuesday morning unaware of this obviously catastrophic situation,” Lieberman said in a statement.

No one should be surprised at Brownie’s attempts to shift blame up the chain, and he is only saying what James Lee Witt and others have said about how the Bush Administration has destroyed FEMA by sucking it into the failing Department of Homeland Security and relegating its budgetary needs to the ashcan so that DHS can chase terrorists and leave the rail stations, chemical plants, nuclear plants, ports, and transportation and public health systems still vulnerable four years later. But it will be interesting to see how the administration responds to Brownie’s slam at the DHS and their treatment of the agency, since Brownie was handpicked by Bush buddy Joe Albaugh for this job.

Steve :: 8:39 AM :: Comments (17) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!