Is anyone surprised by this news?
Michael Brown, who was forced out as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the botched response to Katrina, told senators yesterday that he had spoken to a top White House official at Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex., at least twice on Monday, Aug. 29, and told him that New Orleans was filling up with water.Then again, this testimony comes from the man George Bush called "Brownie." ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.")
The Bush administration maintains it only learned of the unfolding disaster in the city the next day. In fact, Mr. Bush later said he felt relieved on Tuesday morning that New Orleans had “dodged the bullet.”
Mr. Brown testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he had called Joe Hagin, Mr. Bush's deputy chief of staff, and told him that “we were realizing our worst nightmare, that everything we had planned about, worried about . . . for 10 years was coming true” and that New Orleans was flooding.
The testimony confirmed a New York Times report that both the Department of Homeland Security and the White House were sent an e-mail Monday night that included a first-person report from a FEMA official who confirmed the flooding during a tour of New Orleans that day.
Katrina killed more than 1,300 people along the Gulf Coast and displaced hundreds of thousands more, leaving swaths of Louisiana and Mississippi still uninhabitable.
In a sometimes testy exchange with the senators, Mr. Brown said he had kept other officials informed of the flooding and it was “just baloney” for the Department of Homeland Security to claim it didn't know of the catastrophic flood until the next day.
And Brownie, like all of the crooks and cronies in the Bush administration, wailed and moaned when he got caught, and did his darnedest to blame others for his mistakes. I've got no sympathy for him, Chertoff or George Bush, whose collective incompetence made a natural disaster unnaturally more disastrous.
In case anyone has forgotten, Brownie was the guy who sent email messages like these:
- "Can I quit now? Can I come home?"
- "I'm trapped now, please rescue me."
- "I got it at Nordstroms. ... Are you proud of me?"
- "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god."