The article "FEMA troubles no shock to previous chief" reports the thoughts of former head of FEMA Joe Allbaugh:
[He says:] "FEMA has been broken for quite some time..."
The FEMA that he directed did a good job responding to the 9-11 terrorist attacks four years ago, he said. But now it suffers as one of 22 agencies rolled into the new Department of Homeland Security.
"Functions have been moved out of FEMA. Budgets have been cut and used elsewhere," he said. He added that moving FEMA into Homeland Security had added a "couple of layers" of bureaucracy.
The DHS reponds that the move got rid of redundant functions.
...After years of dealing directly with Mr. Bush, the new department structure would add just "further layers" of bureaucracy between him and the president, Mr. Allbaugh said.
"It just didn't make any sense to me," he said...
His business, the Allbaugh Group, represents a pair of large engineering and construction companies - the Halliburton subsidiary KBR and the Shaw Group - that could gain from Katrina work. He said he doesn't lobby for them but rather does special projects and long-term strategic planning. It wouldn't bother him, he said, if there were lifetime lobbying bans for those who served in high government posts.
"It wouldn't hurt me - no skin off my nose or money out of my pocket," he said, "because it's not what I do."
No, not as long as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Howard Dean, and the rest of the Democrats are in charge the looting will continue. However, in "Hurricane looting not over yet", the Right Rev is concerned with the more Republican form of looting:
...Already Halliburton is on hand with a no-bid contract for reconstruction.
Actually, I think what they're doing is covered by a pre-existing contract.
...Fluor, Bechtel, the Shaw Group -- Republican-linked firms -- are lining up for contracts. Lobbyists like Joe Allbaugh, close friend of George Bush, and James Lee Witt, close friend of Bill Clinton -- both former heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- are advising their corporate clients to get teams on the scene. Normal rules of contracting and competition are being waived in the emergency. Big bucks are on the table. It is a time to be wired politically.
Actually, the Shaw Group appears to have some Democratic connections...
The ideologues are in the hunt, too. Newt Gingrich is circulating memos calling for turning the region into a massive enterprise zone, slashing corporate taxes, reducing regulations. The oil lobby is pushing for drilling in Alaska and off the shores of the United States. Right wing activist Grover Norquist calls for cutting taxes on the wealthy even more to stimulate the economy. Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flak [sic, appropriately enough it's "Flake"] suggests conservatives use the crisis to try out their favorite ideas -- vouchers for education and health care...
The Bush administration's inaction and indifference after Katrina hit abandoned the poor and added to their suffering. It would be tragic now if action by the Republican Congress and the Bush administration added to the misery...
He does have some semi-good ideas, like reviving the pseudo-socialistic Civilian Construction and Conservation Corps. The problem, of course, is that behind the good ideas flows a river of race-baiting and Democratic looting.
Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.
One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton...
Private contractors, guided by two former directors of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other well-connected lobbyists and consultants, are rushing to cash in on the unprecedented sums to be spent on Hurricane Katrina relief and reconstruction.
From global engineering and construction firms like the Fluor Corporation and Halliburton to local trash removal and road-building concerns, the private sector is poised to reap a windfall of business in the largest domestic rebuilding effort ever undertaken...
Some experts warn that the crisis atmosphere and the open federal purse are a bonanza for lobbyists and private companies and are likely to lead to the contract abuses, cronyism and waste that numerous investigations have uncovered in post-war Iraq...
From the Bush administration? Never!
...Joe M. Allbaugh, a close friend of President Bush, the president's 2000 campaign manager and the FEMA director from 2001 to 2003, and James Lee Witt, an Arkansan close to former President Bill Clinton and a former FEMA director, are now high-priced consultants, and they have been offering their services to companies seeking or holding federal contracts in the post-hurricane gold rush...
WASHINGTON - The three top jobs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Bush went to political cronies with no apparent experience coping with catastrophes, the Daily News has learned...
...FEMA's No. 2 man, deputy director and chief of staff Patrick Rhode, was an advance man for the Bush-Cheney campaign and White House. He also did short stints at the Commerce Department and Small Business Administration.
Rhode's biography posted on FEMA's Web site doesn't indicate he has any real experience in emergency response.
In addition, the agency's former third-ranking official, deputy chief of staff Scott Morris, was a PR expert who worked for Maverick Media, the Texas outfit that produced TV and radio spots for the Bush-Cheney campaign. In June, Morris moved to Florida to become FEMA's long-term recovery director...
...FEMA also is hampered by several midlevel and regional director's jobs currently held by acting directors...
...Government sources blame Bush's first FEMA director, Joe Allbaugh, with turning FEMA into a patronage shop...
The department's No. 3 official, acting deputy chief of staff Brooks Altshuler, also does not have emergency management experience, according to FEMA spokeswoman Natalie Rule...
Rhode and Altshuler both worked in the White House's Office of National Advance Operations, which arranges the president's travel and scripts his appearances.
The credentials of top FEMA managers stand in contrast to the backgrounds of leaders of the agency during the Clinton administration.
Clinton-era FEMA Director James Lee Witt headed the Arkansas office of emergency services before he was tapped by Clinton in 1993 to run the federal disaster relief agency.
Witt's top aides in 2000, Lynn Canton and Michael Armstrong, both ran regional FEMA offices for at least three years before assuming senior positions with the agency in Washington.
Yesterday, Errol Louis in the NYDN was one of the first of the anti-Michael Brown wave:
...Behind the tears, you could hear that Nagin and Broussard know full well what outsiders are only beginning to understand: They are part of a system of government that is broken at all levels, rife with cronyism and corruption and their inevitable consequence, incompetence.
Federal investigators are probing corruption in the administration of former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial. A man named Glenn Haydel, who is Morial's uncle, is currently facing federal embezzlement charges for allegedly steering $550,000 from the New Orleans public transport system, the Regional Transit Authority, to his own management company - and putting $350,000 of that sum into a personal bank account.
Nagin, a political outsider elected as a reformer, has demonstrated significant limitations as a crisis manager. But he needed and deserved a smooth-running, fully funded public transport and it seems likely that chiselers and crooks in government denied it to him.
The rot extends to the federal level, where much of the nationally televised incompetence and confusion in the gulf region can be traced to the disastrous patronage hire of Michael Brown as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Brown, utterly unqualified for the job, spent the last decade running a trade association of horse breeders...
"Significant limitations" indeed.
It all fits together! According to this not-exactly-credible report:
Among his many acts of service, Allbaugh was reportedly the man dispatched to clean out Bush's Texas National Guard file prior to the 2000 presidential campaign.
It does, however, have this useful but unconfirmed bit of information:
In March 2003, the Bush administration degraded matters further by demoting FEMA from a Cabinet-level agency to a division of the freshly spawned Department of Homeland Security. The merger involved a nonsensical split in the government's disaster-response duties: FEMA would remain in charge of disaster response efforts on the ground, but DHS was placed in charge of disaster-response planning.
In February, Joe Allbaugh's company registered to become a lobbyist for Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary. KBR is currently tapping a $500 million contract to do emergency repairs related to Katrina.
A leftie site says:
Just last week, the Wall Street Journal reported, "Senate Appropriations staffers warn business lobbyists are maneuvering to tack on special-interest amendments" to the hurricane supplemental spending bill.
Was Allbaugh one of those maneuvering behind the scenes to get Halliburton a piece of the $10.5 billion pie that Congress recently passed for hurricane disaster relief?
The Palm Beach Post joins in:
Before he began working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown spent a decade enforcing rules for the International Arabian Horse Association. And people wonder why FEMA did so poorly last year in Florida and last week on the Gulf Coast. Along with the rebuilding of that region must come the rebuilding of FEMA, and that must begin with the firing of Michael Brown.
How incompetent is Mr. Brown? Last Thursday, he said FEMA hadn't known that people were stranded at the New Orleans convention center, even though CNN had had the story on the air Wednesday. We know Mr. Bush doesn't read newspapers, but can't someone watch TV every now and then? This, though, is what happens when you put an unqualified political appointee into an important job and keep him there.
Mr. Brown got to FEMA not because he knew anything about disaster relief. He was a friend of Joe Allbaugh, who with Karl Rove and Karen Hughes formed the troika that ran President Bush's 2000 campaign...
... Florida's Hurricane Summer should have shown the White House that Mr. Brown is incompetent. FEMA paid victims who weren't victims and has stalled on payments to places where Frances and Jeanne really did strike. Supply drop-offs were scheduled, then canceled without notice. Reimbursement rules were confusing and remain so...
Michael Hitzlik of the L.A. Times offers a less-than-trustworthy screed dismissing FEMA head Michael Brown, Bush, conservatism, and on and on. While it has some interesting quotes, I hesitate to wonder which of them are taken out of context:
New Orleans is, or should be, the graveyard of the conservative ideology that government is useless. An American city is reduced to Third World desperation as people who own nothing scrounge for necessities in a sea of waste and federal officials offer lame excuses about how their disaster plans would have worked fine had there not been, you know, a disaster. The president, at the head of a global power that can't get its own troops or supplies off their bases to reach the needful, whines, "The private sector needs to do its part."
This deplorable performance has deep roots. Joe M. Allbaugh, a Bush campaign hack without any crisis management experience who was named director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, disparaged federal disaster assistance as "an oversized entitlement program" before Congress in 2001. The public's expectations of government in a disaster situation, he said, "may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level." He advised stricken communities to rely for help on "faith-based organizations Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ like the Salvation Army and the Mennonite Disaster Service."
If Allbaugh were not an amateur, he would have known that communities, "faith-based organizations" and the private sector become overwhelmed by disasters more modest than this one. In a crisis the federal government should be the first responder, not the last, to take charge, not wait to be asked.
Cynicism on such a scale is self-perpetuating. Determined to portray government as little but an intrusion into people's lives, this gang made it irrelevant to hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina - thus giving them, and us, good reason to be cynical after all.
The federal officials assigned to New Orleans have displayed an appalling combination of arrogance and ignorance. Thursday evening on NPR, I heard Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who oversees FEMA, dismiss reports of thousands of refugees trapped at the New Orleans convention center for days without sustenance. He called the reports, in so many words, "rumors and anecdotes..."
While New Orleans might be the graveyard of Bush's "compassionate conservatism", otherwise known as corruption, pandering, corporatism, and patronage, it should also be the graveyard of something else: "liberalism", otherwise known as racial divisiveness and the horrific idea that you help people by making them dependent on the State.