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September 10, 2005
Brownie Sort of Not Really Fired

And there you go..

Mr. Brown, who was removed from his Gulf Coast duties on Friday, though not from his post as FEMA's chief, is the first casualty of the political furor generated by the government's faltering response to the hurricane. With Democrats and Republicans caustically criticizing the performance of his agency, and with the White House under increasing attack for populating FEMA's top ranks with politically connected officials who lack disaster relief experience, Mr. Brown had become a symbol of President Bush's own hesitant response.

New York Times

The rest of the article is pretty interesting, detailing how bush received a report on Thursday of last week explaining the desperate situation at the New Orleans Convention Center, after having received no such news from his leaders on the ground.

The news account was the first that the president and his top advisers had heard not only of the conditions at the convention center but even that there were people there at all.


"The frustration throughout the week was getting good, reliable information," said the aide, who demanded anonymity so as not to be identified in disclosing inner workings of the White House. "Getting truth on the ground in New Orleans was very difficult."

See, now that seems weird. Because every time I turned on a TV, I saw direct evidence of what was happening in New Orleans. It might not have been an "official" source, but when a camera points at people dying in the streets, and reporters are increasingly frantic about the conditions they're seeing right in front of their faces, I'd say that should probably be "reliable" enough to get your ass moving.

Bush, of course, one day later, publicly commended Brown for doing a "heck of a job" and I think he should have to answer for that. The initial response was late, and then even when they found out that the situation was being hopelessly bungled, it still took A WEEK to discipline the person possibly most responsible. A week in which hundreds probably died. Why the delay? If Bush knew on Thursday, why did he praise Brown on Friday and leave him in position, not to mention have his people defend him, for another week?

In the end, they've done the absolute least that they should do. Brown has been called back to Washington, he hasn't been fired. They're still saying they need him in Washington for other potential disasters, as if this was just a routine shuffling, and had nothing to do with his performance in this crisis.

The management of the mismanagement is being mismanaged. Getting Brown out of the way so people who have a clue can help the victims is a start, but it's not enough. This does not begin and end with Brown.


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