FEMA and President Bush

LuckovichbuckstopsBush, the supreme CEO of the United States of America and especially of the agencies within the Executive branch, placed Mike Brown as head of FEMA through the political favors system.

In days passed by, conspiracy theorists loved to talk about FEMA's black helicopters and their the future when a make-believe disaster occurred. This would be, according to these folk, the time FEMA would take over the US and a secret cabal of gentlemen would be another step closer to ruling the world.

Alas, President Bush has disproven that theory with his appointment of Mike Brown.

Link: Defense Tech: FEMA Chief's Sorry Past.

From the Boston Herald:

Brown - formerly an estates and family lawyer - this week has has made several shocking public admissions, including interviews where he suggested FEMA was unaware of the misery and desperation of refugees stranded at the New Orleans convention center.

Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown spent 11 years as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders' and horse-show organization based in Colorado.

"We do disciplinary actions, certification of (show trial) judges. We hold classes to train people to become judges and stewards. And we keep records,'' explained a spokeswoman for the IAHA commissioner's office. "This was his full-time job . . . for 11 years,'' she added.

Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

"He was asked to resign,'' Bill Pennington, president of the IAHA at the time, confirmed last night.

For those wanting to whitewash the Administration's failure to lead, direct, and support, consider this:

  1. Infrastructure has been one of the lowest priorities of this Administration. Local officials have been trying for decades to shore up the levees.
  2. Local planning for a Katrina-like disaster was in the tabletop
    stages. It was not unforeseen. Chertoff's attempted excuse that an
    exact response was not laid out is not valid because they cannot come
    with every possible response but must have a toolbox. However, it was
    foreseen and the storm had been building and was not all-of-a-sudden.
  3. FEMA had been feared because of its ability to quickly mobilize and
    supercede all laws, etc. What happened? Where is the leadership from
    the President? No, he is not a God like some flippant post, but he has
    the responsibility to make sure the people in charge are responsible.
    What happened to "The Buck Stops Here"? This President is the real
    TEFLON President with his ability to dodge criticism. It is his agency,
    just like the intelligence services (congressional purse strings or
    not) operate for and at the whim of the President. Congressional
    oversight is *oversight*. FEMA is Bush's responsibility.
  4. Who did Bush put in charge of FEMA, a critical domestic component of Homeland Security?

This was a WMD attack, only by mother nature, not by man. the response is woefully inadequate no matter how you slice it. Ultimately, Homeland Security is not, must not be about manmade attacks.

Going beyond budget debates, consider the actualities and realities. Stories of red tape and failure to respond properly, effectively, or at all, including local officials bearing arms to prevent FEMA from interferring. Bush, as CEO, as President, puts together his management team to implement his policies. At what point will the blame rest with him? Where does that buck stop again? 

 

The lack of focus on real threats (terrorist, natural, etc) is a core issue here. Focus people. How many days does it take to
respond? How quickly did the President respond to Terry Schiavo and how quickly did he respond to the hurricane? Not directly comparable, but consider what must have been his assumptions. In the Schiavo case, he had to rely on himself. In the hurricane, he figured he could rely on others. Others that he appointed. This includes Brown and it most definitely includes Chertoff.

The "you're on your own" argument some have put forward to dismiss the response because people didn't get out of the way is a whitewash, an attempt to obfuscate the issue. This was a WMD attack WITH WARNING and you're on your own? I live in Los Angeles, which is likely terrorist target, was a likely Soviet target, and I'm on my own, right?

The core of the issue is the RESPONSE, not the prevention. Stay on focus here and follow who is supposed to react and respond to help the good citizens. Nobody? Let them linger until somebody gets around to letting the mobile hospital have permission (all while they are trying to get on location but can't)? Let them feel they'll be rescued while nothing substantial is really done and chiefs (Mr Brown and Chertoff, etc) talk about how it wasn't foreseen when it was in the process of a table top exercise? While they talk about how a plan wasn't ready therefore they couldn't be responsible for not reacting?

Consider the next time you need emergency services (fire, police, hospital) and consider if they slow their response because they hadn't planned on YOU having to need their assistance or that you YOU hadn't filled out the forms or that YOU should not have been where you where and got injured by your own fault or somebody elses or if your house caught on fire or... pick a scenario.

This is not about warning civilians and how poor or rich people got away or didn't or should have or could have. The issue here is culpability and responsibility for responding to a disaster, man-made or otherwise, to protect the citizens and infrastructure of our great land. The infrastructure that was damaged is not just the French Quarter, but important oil and natural gas and agricultural terminals the entire country depends on.

It is almost guaranteed that blame could be spread to local and state agencies, but let's not let the focus be lost. The Feds have the greatest ability to respond and have promised through the magic color board to protect us. Some Some agencies where hindered and some just moved slowly, or not at all. Others, like the ASPCA  and related pet organizations, were on the ball building on experience from the last hurricane to setup coordinated resources.

Finally people are starting to see the colors of this Administration and their failure to really protect. Unfortunately, it took massive destruction and incurring the jibes of the world, but it happened. Now, let's not lose the momentum. People, you must remember Katrina.