Michael D. Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, testified today that he let senior White House staffers know as soon as he had heard that flooding had begun in New Orleans on the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
Mr. Brown also called claims by top officials at the Department of Homeland Security that they weren't aware of levee breaches until the next day " just baloney."
Mr. Brown said that homeland security officials were being regularly updated by reports delivered through video conference calls, and that he personally contacted White House officials.
"My obligation was to the White House and to make sure the president knows what's going on," he said, "and I did that."
Some of the emails are in this PDF file.
Regarding one of the emails, the following remains to be verified:
- Brian Besanceney, author of the email, is the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security
- Cynthia Bergman is an EPA spokeswoman
- Jeff Karonis is the Director of Incident Communications for DHS Public Affairs
- William R. "Russ" Knocke is a DHS spokesman
- Chad Boudreaux is Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy at DHS
- Ashley Cannati is Counselor to the Deputy Secretary, Office of the Secretary, United States Department of Homeland Security