Sep 15 2005

Michael Brown Speaks Out

Published by at 9:13 am under All General Discussions,Katrina

The NY Times tries to spin an interview with Michael Brown, formally Director of FEMA, as a negative hit on Bush for not taking control of the situation from the local screw ups sooner.

Mr. Brown, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he told the officials in Washington that the Louisiana governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, and her staff were proving incapable of organizing a coherent state effort and that his field officers in the city were reporting an “out of control” situation.

“I am having a horrible time,” Mr. Brown said he told Mr. Chertoff and a White House official – either Mr. Card or his deputy, Joe Hagin – in a status report that evening. “I can’t get a unified command established.”

It seems Brown ran into the Keystone Cops. Now I understand his resignation completely. Brown was tired of taking heat from the liberal media and was most likely chaffing at the PR directive Bush had put in place calling for no negative comments on the Katrina response. Bush is serious that things get taken care of first and cool, calm heads address the short comings. But Brown was taking hits and he wanted out to defend himself.

By the time of that call, he added, “I was beginning to realize things were going to hell in a handbasket” in Louisiana. A day later [August 30], Mr. Brown said, he asked the White House to take over the response effort.

He focused much of his criticism on Governor Blanco, contrasting what he described as her confused response with far more agile mobilizations in Mississippi and Alabama, as well as in Florida during last year’s hurricanes.

And Blanco was insulted and got her back up. What Bush did not need was an open revolt by the Governor – she stilled directed all the critical first responders. What is weird is the liberals are now stuck bashing Bush for not taking over from their inept leaders. Notice how the NY Times turns the debacle of local response and turns it into being ‘overwhelmed’:

But Mr. Brown’s account, in which he described making “a blur of calls” all week to Mr. Chertoff, Mr. Card and Mr. Hagin, suggested that Mr. Bush, or at least his top aides, were informed early and repeatedly by the top federal official at the scene that state and local authorities were overwhelmed and that the overall response was going badly.

‘Overwhelmed’? ‘Going Badly’? They were criminally negligent, risking lives, putting people through unnecessary hardships, ignoring their own disaster plans, and stomping their feet demanding air conditioned Greyhound busses instead of using school busses to move people out of the rising water. Yeah, I would say things were ‘going badly’.

But local officials and personnel are the first responders who know the area and where everything is suppose to be pre-positioned, etc. Federal workers from outside Louisiana are not going to be able instantly learn what the locals know to solve the problem.

With only 2,600 employees nationwide, he said, FEMA must rely on state workers, the National Guard, private contractors and other federal agencies to supply manpower and equipment.

He said his biggest mistake was in waiting until the end of the day on Aug. 30 to ask the White House explicitly to take over the response from FEMA and state officials.

As much as the NY Times wants to fantasize otherwise, taking control from Blanco was not going to work. What the NY Times is failing to ask is why did Blanco try to hold onto power when she was clearly in over her head? When the feds offered to bring in experienced people to take over why did she let her ego get in the way of saving lives? That is the debacle here.

It is clear from this the Feds detected early on the state was flailing around and losing control, and was there ready to assist. But Blanco blanked. As she did when she did not allow the Red Cross in to supply the Superdome and Convention Center and bring some people back out.

Nagin appears to have been able to adjust when approached and requested to go against his Governor’s positions.

By Saturday afternoon, many residents were leaving. But as the hurricane approached early on Sunday, Mr. Brown said he grew so frustrated with the failure of local authorities to make the evacuation mandatory that he asked Mr. Bush for help.

“Would you please call the mayor and tell him to ask people to evacuate?” Mr. Brown said he asked Mr. Bush in a phone call.

“Mike, you want me to call the mayor?” the president responded in surprise, Mr. Brown said. Moments later, apparently on his own, the mayor, C. Ray Nagin, held a news conference to announce a mandatory evacuation, but it was too late, Mr. Brown said. Plans said it would take at least 72 hours to get everyone out.

No amount of liberal media spin is going to change the fact Blanco blew it on Katrina.

Mark Coffey’s thoughts on the subject are here.


Tom Maguire has posted his comments here.

And Rick Moran adds his remarks here.

One response so far

One Response to “Michael Brown Speaks Out”

  1. For the Next Katrina

    Not much to add to what has already said. Brown had to go. Reading the interview, there was no other option.