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Mike Brown "transitioning" out of FEMA job

Despite what you might have heard, it appears the former FEMA head Mike Brown has not been re-hired. He is simply staying on for a couple more weeks while he's debriefed.
At 6:44PM EST, CBS News said:

Gloria Borger reports that Michael Brown... has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to evaluate its response following Hurricane Katrina.

However, the apparently later AP report also at CBS says:

Former FEMA director Michael Brown is continuing to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency at full pay, with his Sept. 12 resignation not taking effect for two more weeks, said Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke.
CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Knocke told her that technically Brown remains at FEMA as a "contractor" and he is "transitioning out of his job." The reason he will remain at FEMA about a month after his resignation, said the spokesman, is that the agency wants to get the "proper download of his experience."
During that time, Brown will advise the department on "some of his views on his experience with Katrina," as he transitions out of his job, Knocke told the Associated Press...

Bubba blasts Bush over Katrina, poverty, lack of omnipotence...

Bill Clinton has criticized Our Leader Bush for his response to Katrina on Sunday's "This Week". Your job is to determine why. Is this an attempt to help heal the Bush administration, with perhaps another Bush appearance in which he'll shovel out even more money? Surely, Clinton wouldn't turn on his new best friends in the Bush Family, so something else must be up.
Thus spake Bubba, per AFP:

"If we really wanted to do it right, we would have had lots of buses lined up to take them out"...
He agreed that some responsibility for this lay with the local and state authorities, but pointed the finger, without naming him, at the former director of [FEMA]...

"We"? As in Nagin and Blanco?
Oddly enough, the NYT omits the bus part:

"It's like when they issued the evacuation order... That affects poor people differently. A lot of them in New Orleans didn't have cars. A lot of them who had cars had kinfolk they had to take care of. They didn't have cars, so they couldn't take them out."
"This is a matter of public policy... And whether it's race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action made. That's what they did in the 80's; that's what they've done in this decade. In the middle, we had a different policy."

Evacuation would seem to be a local issue, no? Perhaps Clinton should have been asked about the welfare mindset and whether that played a part in people staying in place. Note also that some people never heard about the evacuation order. Once again, Bush can't be in all places at all times.

While not using the name of Michael D. Brown, the FEMA director who resigned last Monday after criticism of his performance in the Katrina disaster, Mr. Clinton praised the performance of his FEMA director, James Lee Witt, and said Mr. Witt had been especially sensitive to the needs of low-income people because "both of us came out of environments with a disproportionate number of poor people."

AFGE Union on Michael Brown resignation

This press release was issued Sep. 12:
"It's unfortunate that it's come to this, but this resignation was appropriate," said AFGE National President John Gage. "However, Mr. Brown's resignation does nothing to restore the slashed funding for disaster mitigation that FEMA has suffered. It does not undo the damage done by the connected contractors who were used to push aside career FEMA employees, only to provide unusable studies and materials.
"Only Congress can make this right," Gage concluded, "by restoring to FEMA full funding for emergency preparedness, as well as appropriating the dollars necessary for a comprehensive response to the nation's citizens in the throes of a crisis."
For years, AFGE members at FEMA have been ringing alarm bells, predicting the agency's inability to respond adequately to a natural disaster in the face of budget cuts and money thrown away on corporate contractors. In June 2004, the AFGE president of the local union at FEMA headquarters sent a letter to some 20 senators and members of Congress, begging for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the cronyism and program- slashing that were threatening the agency's emergency-response capability.
In the letter, then AFGE Local President Pleasant Mann also expressed concern at the lack of emergency-response experience by then FEMA Director Joseph Allbaugh, who went on to appoint his college roommate, Michael Brown, to the agency's upper ranks. (Brown succeeded Allbaugh when the latter left the agency to become a lobbyist for Halliburton.)
This year, Local Union President Mann was succeeded by Leo Bosner, who describes Michael Brown as "a nice man" who lacks the appropriate experience for running FEMA...

Chertoff, Brown, who was in charge

From this:

Chertoff worked from home the day [Leo Bosner, a "26-year FEMA employee and union leader"] first warned of the hurricane's catastrophic potential for New Orleans, CNN's Tom Foreman reported. Chertoff also has been criticized for writing a memo the day after Katrina struck, delegating authority to Brown and deferring to the White House rather than taking charge.
Chertoff has not commented, but a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said he was in touch with Brown the weekend Katrina approached New Orleans.
The homeland security spokesperson also defended the memo, saying it merely put in writing procedures already in place. But the national disaster plan states that Homeland Security is in charge of the response to disasters like Katrina.

"A disturbing view from inside FEMA": An odd CNN, FEMA, Blanco loop

This CNN report has a lot of filler, but it does link to a segment on a "whistleblower". But, it also ends up being CNN reporting on someone who apparently used CNN as a source for remarks by Blanco, which are then re-reported by CNN:

"We told these fellows that there was a killer hurricane heading right toward New Orleans," Leo Bosner, a 26-year FEMA employee and union leader told CNN. "We had done our job, but they didn't do theirs."
Bosner's storm warning came early Saturday, three days before Hurricane Katrina came ashore in eastern Louisiana.
"New Orleans is of particular concern because much of that city lies below sea level," he warned in his daily alert to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, then-FEMA chief Michael Brown and other Bush administration officials.
"If the hurricane winds blow from a certain direction, there are dire predictions of what may happen in the city," it said.

Those quotes appear to have originated with Gov. Kathleen Blanco, and not Bosner. I don't know if this National Situation Update: Saturday, August 27, 2005 is what that's refering to, but it attributes those last two quotes to Blanco, and it cites "Various media sources" as its sources.
Those quotes appear to have first appeared in CNN's Aug. 26 article "Forecasters: Katrina to aim for Mississippi, Louisiana":

In anticipation of a possible landfall, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared states of emergency Friday.
Blanco said "very well-coordinated evacuations" were planned that will be enacted "if there's a direct threat."
New Orleans is of particular concern because much of that city lies below sea level.
"It's always a huge concern, because there's a very large lake, Lake Pontchartrain, that sits next to New Orleans, and if the hurricane winds blow from a certain direction there are dire predictions of what may happen in that city," Blanco said.

What an odd loop! There's a possibility she was quoting Bosner, or CNN got its attributions wrong. Let's ask them and find out.
And, from Sep 11's "FEMA Weathers Storm From Critics":

So what happened as Katrina approached? On the Saturday morning two days before the hurricane struck, FEMA's watch commanders issued a warning.
"We put a situation report out at 5:30 a.m. saying a catastrophic hurricane is headed straight, dead-center for New Orleans and Brown and Chertoff and these people did nothing," Leo Bosner says.

Blanco spksmn: Brownie's remarks "totally inaccurate"

I'd suggest waiting for the investigation, but in the meantime:

[Former FEMA head Michael Brown] tells the New York Times that Louisiana authorities were "out of control" and that Governor Kathleen Blanco's staffers were unable to organize a response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina...
...But a spokesman says Brown's latest assertions are "totally inaccurate."

Will Michael Chertoff be the new scapegoat?

You're going to need a map and a large sheet of paper to follow the article "Conflicting accounts from top on Katrina response", which tries to figure out who exactly dropped the ball (if any), and whether it was DHS head Chertoff.
Apparently it happened like this:

  1. On the night of Aug. 27, the White House issued a statement on Katrina [That's the same statement discussed and linked in "Some LA counties missing from White House emergency declaration"].
    That did several things:

    1. it initiated the National Response Plan..
    2. it authorized DHS and FEMA "to coordinate all disaster relief efforts" under the Stafford Act...
    3. the NRP says that if the Stafford Act is used, the incident is a matter of "national significance".
  2. The NRP references a "principal federal official" who will lead the federal government's response, and the Stafford Act requires a "federal coordinating officer". (I'm confused over what they do, but apparently those aren't the same roles.) Sometime on Aug. 27, Bush named William Lokey as the FCO. In any case, Bush did not name Brown of FEMA as the PFO or the FCO.
  3. Aug. 29: Katrina hits
  4. Aug. 30: Chertoff names Brown as the PFO and declares Katrina an "incident of national significance".

The latter had apparently already been done three days prior by the White House, and perhaps Brown should have been the PFO from the beginning...
Can someone check these acronyms please?

At first it was Brown who took the brunt of the criticism for the federal response to Katrina and he resigned under pressure on Monday.
But some congressional aides involved in the investigation are now questioning why Chertoff waited until Aug. 30 to designate Brown as the "principal federal official" and to declare the storm an "incident of national significance."
...But it is unclear why Chertoff did not immediately designate Brown as the "principal federal official" with oversight over Lokey and other federal and state officials...
...But under the National Response Plan, Chertoff could hold off. "Depending on the magnitude of the disaster, a principal federal official may not always be designated, in which case the federal coordinating officer will provide the federal lead," the plan says.
Knocke said Chertoff did not hold off designating Brown as the "principal federal official" because he doubted the severity of the storm. Chertoff was working from home on Aug. 27 and kept in touch with officials by phone, he said.
Knocke said Brown already "was in fact the lead federal official in the field before and after (Chertoff's) declaration. ... Everyone knew their roles and responsibilities."

Michael Brown blames Blanco; White House blames Brown

From "Ex-FEMA Chief Tells of Frustration and Chaos":

Hours after Hurricane Katrina passed New Orleans on Aug. 29, as the scale of the catastrophe became clear, Michael D. Brown recalls, he placed frantic calls to his boss, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, and to the office of the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr.
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 truly believed the White House was not at fault here," he said.
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.
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.
A senior administration official said Wednesday night that White House officials recalled the conversations with Mr. Brown but did not believe they had the urgency or desperation he described in the interview...
[Brown] 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...

There are more claims and counterclaims, but at this point it's hard to tell who's telling the truth.
Some interesting bits are highlighted here. wants a Katrina Commission

Received via email:

Will you sign our petition for an independent Katrina Commission?
Senators, including many moderate Republicans, are deciding whether to support a Katrina Commission modeled after the 9/11 Commission, this week. We need a really big number of people to sign the petition to show senators and representatives how much support there is for the Katrina Commission.
President Bush will address the nation about Hurricane Katrina on Thursday. We'll start delivering the petitions to Congress starting Friday morning so senators and representatives will hear what you think the very next day. The goal is to get 250,000 petition signers quickly.
Here's why we need a Katrina Commission:
* We need to learn from Hurricane Katrina. The scale of the disaster makes it urgent that we learn from mistakes. The government can't investigate itself. That means appointing an independent group of experts to sort through the data.
* We need to find the other Michael Browns. Yesterday, FEMA director Michael Brown resigned. Brown had no experience in emergency management-his last job was as the director of the International Arabian Horses Association. And there are many other political appointees like him who could get in the way during a future emergency.
* When President Bush investigates his own government, no one is held accountable. When Bush and his allies have led investigations in the past, they've been whitewashes. The WMD Commission, led by Republicans in the Senate, concluded that no one was really to blame for the falsified intelligence about WMDs in Iraq. And the White House was entirely opposed to the 9/11 Commission until victims' families made it a politically impossible position.
The 9/11 Commission is a good model for the Katrina Commission. It was independent, bipartisan and provided all Americans with an honest and frank assessment of what happened on September 11th-they even published the results as a book. Support for the Katrina Commission is growing. New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced legislation last week that would establish the one.

DUmmies wrong, Michael Brown didn't know too much

The news that Michael Brown has resigned from FEMA renders the DU post Bush can't fire "Brownie" because "Brownie" knows Too Much... a bit moot.
That links to the Nov 3, 2004 GovExec report "How FEMA delivered Florida for Bush":

Now that President Bush has won Florida in his 2004 re-election bid, he may want to draft a letter of appreciation to Michael Brown, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Seldom has any federal agency had the opportunity to so directly and uniquely alter the course of a presidential election, and seldom has any agency delivered for a president as FEMA did in Florida this fall...
In 1992, the last time a major hurricane pummeled Florida in the homestretch of a presidential election, FEMA was caught with its pants down. Its response to Hurricane Andrew was disorganized and chaotic, leaving thousands without shelter and water. Cleanup and resupply efforts were snarled in red tape. After watching the messy relief efforts unfold, lawmakers questioned whether FEMA was a Cold War relic that ought to be abolished.
For then-President George H.W. Bush, the scene proved to be a public relations nightmare. He managed to regain his footing and win Florida three months later, but his winning margin was dramatically reduced from 1988...
In 2004, George W. Bush and FEMA left little room for error. Not long after Hurricane Charley first made landfall on Aug. 13, Bush declared the state a federal disaster area to release federal relief funds. Less than two days after Charley ripped through southwestern Florida, he was on the ground touring hard-hit neighborhoods...
[..FEMA did a very good job...]

But, wait, there's more theorizing at the DU link.


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