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Brown Blames 'Dysfunctional' Louisiana
AP via AOL News ^ | Sept. 27, 2005 | Lara Jordan

Posted on 09/27/2005 10:26:28 AM PDT by Rennes Templar

WASHINGTON (Sept. 27) - Former FEMA director Michael Brown aggressively defended his role in responding to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday and put much of the blame for coordination failures on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional," two days before the storm hit, Brown told a special congressional panel set up by House Republican leaders to investigate the catastrophe.

The storm slammed into the Gulf Coast on Monday, Aug. 29.

Brown's defense drew a scathing response from Rep. William Jefferson, D-La.

"I find it absolutely stunning that this hearing would start out with you, Mr. Brown, laying the blame for FEMA's failings at the feet of the governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans."

Brown, who for many became a symbol of government failures in the natural disaster that claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people, rejected accusations that he was too inexperienced for the job.

"I've overseen over 150 presidentially declared disasters. I know what I'm doing, and I think I do a pretty darn good job of it," Brown said.

Brown resigned as the head of FEMA earlier this month after being removed by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff from responsibility in the stricken areas.

Brown, who joined FEMA in 2001 and ran it for more than two years, was previously an attorney who held several local government and private posts, including leading the International Arabian Horse Association.

Brown in his opening statement said he had made several "specific mistakes" in dealing with the storm, and listed two.

One, he said, was not having more media briefings.

As to the other, he said: "I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences, and work together. I just couldn't pull that off."

Both Blanco and Nagin are Democrats.

"The people of FEMA are being tired of being beat up, and they don't deserve it," Brown said.

The hearing was largely boycotted by Democrats, who want an independent investigation conducted into government failures, not one run by congressional Republicans.

But Jefferson -- who is not a committee member -- accepted the panel's invitation to grill Brown.

Referring to Brown's description of his "mistakes," Jefferson said: "I think that's a very weak explanation of what happened, and very incomplete explanation of what happened. I don't think that's going to cut it, really."

Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., cautioned against too narrowly assigning blame.

"At the end of the day, I suspect that we'll find that government at all levels failed the people of Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama and the Gulf Coast," said Davis.

Davis pushed Brown on what he and the agency he led should have done to evacuate New Orleans, restore order in the city and improve communication among law enforcement agencies.

Brown said: "Those are not FEMA roles. FEMA doesn't evacuate communities. FEMA does not do law enforcement. FEMA does not do communications."

In part of his testimony, Brown pumped his hand up and down for emphasis.

Brown said the lack of a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans before the storm was "the tipping point for all the other things that went wrong." Brown said he had personally pushed Louisiana Gov. Blanco to order such an evacuation.

He did not have the authority to order the city evacuated on his own, Brown said.

When asked by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky, whether the lack of an ordered evacuation was "the proximate cause of most people's misery," Brown said, "Yes."

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.

Knocke said Brown agreed to stay at FEMA up to four weeks after he resigned to advise the department on "some of his views on his experience with Katrina." He said Brown, who is in a "transition" period, does not have any decision-making or management responsibilities.

"There is an important public benefit to ensuring that any pending projects, initiatives, commitments or records be properly passed off to staff," Knocke said.

Brown ran FEMA for more than two years.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; US: Louisiana
KEYWORDS: fema; katrina; katrinafacts; michaelbrown; tellitlikeitis
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"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional,"

"The people of FEMA are being tired of being beat up, and they don't deserve it," Brown said.

I wish W would talk like that.

1 posted on 09/27/2005 10:26:30 AM PDT by Rennes Templar
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To: Rennes Templar

Regardless of how the MSM trashes Brown for making that comment, the public will have a decidedly different view, because we all saw it in living color for five days.


2 posted on 09/27/2005 10:28:49 AM PDT by Dems_R_Losers (2,4,6,8 - a burka makes me look overweight!)
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To: Dems_R_Losers

Right, but the non-PC audacity of that guy! (give us more!)


3 posted on 09/27/2005 10:32:06 AM PDT by Rennes Templar ("The future ain't what it used to be".........Yogi Berra)
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To: Rennes Templar

"Brown's defense drew a scathing response from Rep. William Jefferson, D-La.

"I find it absolutely stunning that this hearing would start out with you, Mr. Brown, laying the blame for FEMA's failings at the feet of the governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans." "


He's got a point - Louisiana's congressional delegation should get some of the blame too. :)


4 posted on 09/27/2005 10:32:45 AM PDT by gondramB ( There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down .)
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To: Rennes Templar

By all accounts, FEMA, under Brown, did a better job in Louisiana than in previous disasters anywhere. The Dims are circling the wagons to protect their base - corruption, incompetence and graft.


5 posted on 09/27/2005 10:33:21 AM PDT by caisson71
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To: Dems_R_Losers

Brown may be a political appointee without the diplomas bureaucrats are so fond of but he's absolutely right in what he's saying, the ultimate fault lies with Blanco-Noggin. FEMA's role was redefined by the media to scapegoat the FEDS and Bush, in particular. If I'm Bush I welcome any review they want to make down the road but he was right to shoulder some of the blame (We can do better) to get the media off his back so he could get some work done now.


6 posted on 09/27/2005 10:35:40 AM PDT by vigilence
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: Rennes Templar
"Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., cautioned against too narrowly assigning blame."

Well, I'll be generous here and broadly assign blame then. I assign it to Ragin' Cajun Nagin, Bozo Blanko Blanco, and a host of supporting thieves and embezzlers otherwise known as Louisiana politicians. There, much better.

8 posted on 09/27/2005 10:36:42 AM PDT by Enterprise (The modern Democrat Party - a toxic stew of mental illness, cultism, and organized crime.)
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To: Rennes Templar
Louisianna was IS dysfunctional
9 posted on 09/27/2005 10:37:41 AM PDT by rockabyebaby (I'm not afraid to say out loud what the rest of you are afraid to admit.)
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To: Rennes Templar
As to the other, he said: "I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences, and work together. I just couldn't pull that off."

Both Blanco and Nagin are Democrats.

The sentence about both being Democrats does not prove him wrong as AP wishes. Nagin donated money to President Bush in 2000, and I believe supported Blanco's opponent.

10 posted on 09/27/2005 10:38:06 AM PDT by w1andsodidwe (Jimmy Carter allowed radical Islam to get a foothold in Iran.)
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To: gondramB
Brown's defense drew a scathing response from Rep. William Jefferson, D-La

Should Congress Critters CURRENTLY under investigation for Fraud in Louisiana REALLY be on these sort of panels?

It is like having the murderer's mother on his jury.

11 posted on 09/27/2005 10:38:16 AM PDT by msnimje (Hurricane KATRINA - An Example of Nature's Enforcement of Eminent Domain)
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To: Rennes Templar
Rep. William Jefferson, D-La

That should be William Jefferson, Democrat Louisiana

12 posted on 09/27/2005 10:39:04 AM PDT by b4its2late (I was only looking at your nametag, honest!)
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To: gondramB

This is the same Rep. William Jefferson who is under investigation by the FBI for political corruption and had massive amounts of cash found in his home when the FBI raided it before the storm. Then immediately after he commandeered Louisiana National Guard units to helicopter him into his home so he could "check on it"...more like pick up evidence (cash) to keep his butt out of jail. No wonder he's trying to lay all of the blame at Brown and FEMA's doorstep.


13 posted on 09/27/2005 10:40:07 AM PDT by vigilence
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To: Rennes Templar

good for brown. cant wait to see how the MSM spins this.


14 posted on 09/27/2005 10:40:19 AM PDT by beebuster2000
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To: gondramB

Is willie jefferson the politician who used the national guard to visit his home while people were waiting to be rescued?


15 posted on 09/27/2005 10:41:16 AM PDT by tarzantheapeman (Cindy and the Cranks - Moonbats Gone Wild!)
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To: Rennes Templar
Brown's defense drew a scathing response from Rep. William Jefferson, D-La.

"I find it absolutely stunning that this hearing would start out with you, Mr. Brown, laying the blame for FEMA's failings at the feet of the governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans."

Browns response in my fantasy world - "Congressman, I wish we could have assured a freezer full of federal cash for all the stricken in New Oreans, and two National Guard trucks and a helicoptor for every survivor."

16 posted on 09/27/2005 10:41:36 AM PDT by TC Rider (The United States Constitution 1791. All Rights Reserved.)
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To: vigilence

Why did they invite this idiot to sit on the panel?


17 posted on 09/27/2005 10:42:28 AM PDT by tarzantheapeman (Cindy and the Cranks - Moonbats Gone Wild!)
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To: tarzantheapeman

idiot = willie jefferson


18 posted on 09/27/2005 10:42:59 AM PDT by tarzantheapeman (Cindy and the Cranks - Moonbats Gone Wild!)
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To: Rennes Templar

He's right, but he's the wrong messenger.

Actually, Bush is not the right messenger, either. What we need is an independent commission to say this. We need a commission with no politicians or DC staffers. We need former military, engineers, auditors, and organizational planners from private industry.


19 posted on 09/27/2005 10:44:11 AM PDT by Brilliant
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To: Rennes Templar

Yep, the lynch mob will be after Brown for telling the truth about Louisiana. Actually, "dysfunctional" is rather mild compared to what really goes on in that cesspool of corruption.


20 posted on 09/27/2005 10:45:02 AM PDT by billnaz (What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand?)
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