Michael Brown Defends Himself

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Dumb Things Said By Smart People, Hurricane Katrina

This is truly amazing, and no, not the good kind of amazing.

From Washington Post.

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael D. Brown said yesterday that it was not his job to take over the evacuation of New Orleans and rescue the drowning city from Hurricane Katrina, blaming Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin and “dysfunctional” state officials for the government’s failed response to the disaster.

Over six hours of tense and at times angry testimony to a House investigative panel whose members condemned and derided him, Brown strongly defended his agency and himself against what he called “false, defamatory statements” spread by the news media about the agency’s capabilities after the hurricane.

Ahh yes…”dysfunctional”.

You mean dysfunctional like the job FEMA did?

Brown admitted that FEMA’s ability to move life-sustaining supplies was flawed and “easily overwhelmed” by Katrina’s scale. He said that emergency communications broke down because the country made little “real progress” in learning from the 2001 terrorist attacks, and he warned that if U.S. authorities remain focused on preparing for terrorism instead of natural disasters, “then we’re going to fail.”

So quick question: whose job is it to make progress within FEMA? Wouldn’t that be something that, oh, I don’t know, the HEAD of the organization should do? Am I missing something here people?

Joe Gandelman shares these thoughts as he listened to the testimony.

I was on a long drive but kept glued to a zillion stations to listen to what seemed to be a political train wreck occurring in slow motion hosted by GOPers in Congress: former FEMA chief Michael Brown’s testimony where he defended himself, FEMA and his world-famous resume.

Listening to the tone of at least some of the Congressmen’s questions, something nearly psychic occurred: as I drove through California’s wine country and listened to the radio, I could actually see before my eyes some independent thinking Republicans with their jaws hanging down to the floor.

And Brown apparently didn’t hear the insistence from the White House and many GOPers that they absolutely do not want a “blame game” because he basically blamed the Hurricane Katrina mess on paralyzed and clashing Louisiana politicos â€â€? while making a point to note that Louisiana had Democratic leaders versus Republicans in other storm-ravaged states, implying that their party is why they did a better storm response job (you see, political party has everything to do with job performance â€â€? so does that mean Brown’s a Democrat?).

To suggest that emergency readiness has something to do with politics, and then to admit during the same hearing that FEMA was not up to snuff even after 9/11, betrays a mind that is separated from logic in an almost fantastic way, and no, that’s not the good type of fantastic. Folks, this IS the incompetence that Bush brought into FEMA after 9/11. This IS the “good ole boys network” in action.

I say good riddance, but hey, watch it for yourself and tell me if I’m wrong.

And lest we forget, the guy running FEMA in the Northwest, John Pennington, is equally as unqualified as Brown, if not more so. His qualifications? Well, he ran a coffee company AND he was co-chairman of the Bush campaign in 2000 in his county. Four states are currently under his supervision: Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. The combined population is over 11.5 million.

TIME also had a good story about appointed directors who are unqualified.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2005 and is filed under Dumb Things Said By Smart People, Hurricane Katrina. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Michael Brown Defends Himself”

  1. Callimachus Says:

    Well, we needed to hear what the guy had to say in his own defense before we could honestly judge him. Now we’ve heard it.

  2. BrianOfAtlanta Says:

    The whole “Look, I didn’t screw up as badly as these other guys” defense works sometimes, but not in this case. Anyone familiar with Louisiana politics and politicians would expect the mayor and governor to screw up royally, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. However, we have a certain expectation of competence from the Feds. Sure, FEMA is a bloated and slow bureaucracy, but we still expect more of it than we do of Louisiana politicians.

    Sorry, Brownie, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and you carved yourself a nice big slice of it.

  3. DosPeros Says:

    Maybe I’m aloof and should be more flabergasted, like “OH MY GOD, I CAN’T BELIEVE A FEDERAL BUREACRACY SCREWED SOMETHING UP.” I have no real expectation of competence from federal agencies to effectively (or perhaps “efficiently” is a better word) manage anything. There is no doubt, though, with the notable exception of Hailey Barber, Katrina exposed an absolute vacuum of leadership, including that of Dubya.

  4. debsay Says:

    Brian,

    So you are saying that it is actually FEMA’s fault that Louisians has crooks and idiots for their government officials? That Brown should have personally known that they are totally incompetent and power hungry and should have anticipated a total breakdown of their government during the storm aftermath???? Why didn’t their own residents know this?? If they did know this, why did they stand for it???? I mean, good grief, you have to be able to count on the local and state government for SOMETHING….. instead they completely fell apart and even interfered with national aid….. that is beyond incompetence.

    I’m not from the New Orleans area, so I’m not familiar with their political officials… I’m not familiar with the amount of corruption in their local and state government. At least, not until now…. I would never have assumed that people would continue to vote in people like this, why do they stand for it????

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