Couple of items:
1) The New Orleans superintendent of police is resigning in advance of planned tribunals to investigate the alleged mass desertion of hundreds of cops in Katrina’s wake. It’s about time we saw some local heads roll. Nagin should be next.
2) Michael Brown’s testimony before Congress is receiving some rave reviews. Some e-mailers are demanding that Brown critics, myself included, apologize. Puh-lease. Don’t mistake the after-the-fact appearance of competence for demonstrated leadership in crisis. Read his own words. Brown’s testimony today was about creating the illusion of accountability (“My biggest mistake was…”) while simultaneously passing the buck all in one breath (“…was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional.”)
And while Brown stressed that FEMA was not a first-responder agency, he took contradictory pains to show how he had taken aggressive steps to send a special FEMA employee to hold Ray Nagin’s hand before landfall “because we knew the mayor was going to have problems.” DHS chief Michael Chertoff, and ultimately President Bush, made the decision to recall Brown from the disaster zone and accept his resignation. Their verdict still stands. So does mine.
9/ 28 Update: Several readers raise the point Brown stressed in his testimony yesterday about his successful presiding over 150 other federal disasters. (Never mind this and this.) Once again, Brown wants to have his cake and eat it, too. He argues that successful disaster response is primarily the result of local and state preparation…then happily takees credit for all the past successes in order to bolster his own image of competence.
Another point. Many readers seem to think my criticism of Brown precludes criticism of local and state officials. I suggest you go back and read all of my Katrina coverage for my assessments of the hapless Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco. As I wrote on 9/7, “This is not either-or. The disastrous aftermath is neither entirely the fault of local and state officials nor entirely the fault of the feds. If someone is a worthless sack of bones, I’ll say so.” See also here.
Finally, it is well worth re-reading Michael Brown’s remarks at his Aug. 29 press conference with local and state officials. His statements differ radically from his testimony yesterday. Either he was dissembling on Aug. 29 or he was dissembling yesterday. Which is it?
See Joe Gandelman for an excellent round-up of opinion on “The (Self) Political Rehabilitation Of FEMA’s Michael Brown.”
And here for a fact check comparing Brown’s claims to the FEMA hurricane plan.blog comments powered by Disqus
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