Friday, November 04, 2005

FEMA's Brown Resigned In Disgrace. His E-Mails Help Explain Why

How out of touch was FEMA Director Michael Brown?

If e-mails turned over to Congress are any indication, Brown showed concern for his appearance, his dog, and his dinner plans -- just about everything but Hurricane Katrina, which ultimately killed more than 1,200 people along the Gulf Coast.

More than 1,000 pages of electronic messages were turned over yesterday by Brown's employer, the Department of Homeland Security, to a special House panel investigating the federal response to Katrina. (Brown resigned on Sept. 12, but remains on the DHS payroll through at least Nov. 12.)

Some of the lowlights:

HE CARED ABOUT HIS CLOTHING AND APPEARANCE: "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire you'll really vomit," Brown wrote to colleagues the morning of Aug. 29, the day the storm hit the Gulf Coast. ``I am a fashion god.''

In an e-mail earlier that day, Brown acknowledged a compliment about his clothing from Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of public affairs. "I got it at Nordstroms. ... Are you proud of me?" he wrote. "Can I quit now? Can I go home?''

On Sept. 4, as criticism mounted of the federal effort, Brown received an e-mail from Sharon Worthy, his press secretary, telling him, "Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt, all shirts. Even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow. In this [crisis] and on TV you just need to look more hard-working."

HE CARED ABOUT HIS DOG: Brown searched for someone to care for his dog at his home and recommended former colleagues to defend him in a potentially negative story about his past management of the International Arabian Horse Association.

Brown wrote "do you know of anyone who dog sits?'' in an e-mail to his assistant on Aug. 30, the day after Katrina hit. "If you know of any responsible kids, let me know.''

Rob White, a spokesman for Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the House panel, said "these e-mails do raise important questions about what actions he was taking or not taking."

HE CARED ABOUT HIS DINNER: Yesterday's release of e-mails is a fitting follow-up to testimony provided on Oct. 20 by Marty Bahamonde, FEMA's New England regional director, and the first agency official to arrive in New Orleans in advance of the storm.

On Aug. 31, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown to tell him that thousands of evacuees were gathering in the streets with no food or water and that "estimates are many will die within hours."

"Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," Bahamonde wrote. "The sooner we can get the medical patients out, the sooner we can get them out."

A short time later, Worthy wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant that evening. "He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes," Worthy wrote. "Restaurants are getting busy. We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

"We will examine further why critical information provided by Mr. Bahamonde was either discounted, misunderstood, or simply not acted upon," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who heads the Homeland Security committee. She decried the "complete disconnect between senior officials and the reality of the situation."


Anonymous Oreo said...

Too bad we're still paying him

Chertoff kept him on with FEMA not once but twice so that he can share his "expertise" in figuring out what went wrong with Katrina. It's too unbelievable... he should be imprisoned and instead he's still getting paid.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous spindrifter said...

Are we still paying Taylor and Worthy? These two need to know that they were not on message during this fiasco.

The only guy that seemed to be taking his work seriously was Bahamonde. Did they disregard his alerts because he wasn't on the fashion message?

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Haggar said...

It's not who you are, it's how you dress...

12:10 PM  
Blogger Ditto said...

This is so unsurprising it is sad. Isn't this the nature of the WH beast now. Public perception trumps performance everytime.

From Rice's shoe fetish to W's sleeves rolled just so... to Brown's self-image of being a fashion god... we see the importance of dressing properly for the Rapture.

Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job... co-ordinating your shirts and slacks.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous punkingal said...

Keith O was just scathing in his contempt for Brown on his show last night, and so was Miles O'Brien on CNN yesterday. It's disgusting that he is still on payroll. He should be in jail.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Erika said...

W said "You've done a heckuvajob Brownie"

Who had the total disconnect with the reality of the situation?

1:32 AM  
Anonymous SillyGoose said...

And the worst part about it all is that he's still on the payroll.

Why is that allowed? That's what I want to know.

1:34 AM  
Anonymous Carolab said...

Because Bush thinks we need to support his cronies. It's a heckuva job.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Skittles said...

well I won't fault anyone for caring about their dogs but for chrissakes WE ALL SAW THIS STORM APPROACHING FOR DAYS.............what the f*** was he doing taking care of this business AFTER the storm hit? Oh I know the answer - BUSH AND CRONYISM

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Swamp Rat said...

Yeah, even Bushler and Hitler cared about dogs.
I love my dogs too, but I didn't let thousands of people die and lose their homes because I wanted a fancy dinner in spiffy clothes.

There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Brown is guilty of negligent homicide, to say the least.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Skittles said...

it does seem to go way beyond dereliction of duty, Swamp Rat

this is pathological neglect - he didn't even react the way a normal person in way over their head would - with sheer panic - he's nuts

11:21 AM  
Anonymous buddyhollysghost said...

Okay. I don't get this. This lame excuse for a human being is put in charge of the entire nation's emergency preparedness agency. Yet he has no contingency plans for his dog should a national emergency actually occur?


11:21 AM  
Anonymous B Calm said...

I don't see where Brownie is any worse than Bush! It appears they are two peas in a pod, two of a kind!

11:22 AM  

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