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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?
Continuing:

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.

Chertoff, Cheney dumped Michael Brown

"FEMA Chief Was Recalled After High-Level Meeting" has the who-really-cares details. But, oddly enough, it doesn't mention Bush being involved in the decision. Maybe he was MTBing at the time.

Tim Russert prompts for a resignation

From Sunday's Meet the Press:

TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary are you or anyone who reports to you contemplating resignation?
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: Tim, what we're contemplating now is the fact is that we're very, very much in the middle after crisis...
...TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, you say pre-staged, people were sent to the Convention Center- there was no water. No food, no beds, no authorities there. There was no planning.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: My understanding is-- and again this is something that we're going to go back over after the fact is-- the plan that the New Orleans officials and the State Officials put together called for the Superdome to be the refuge of last resort...
...TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, there was no food or water at the Superdome, either...

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