Thursday, March 02, 2006

Brownie = Partially Exonerated?

It appears Mike Brown may not have been as "deer in the headlights" as we all might have thought come Katrina. The real idiots seem to be Chertoff and C-Plus Augustus. A videotape of a pre-Katrina briefing is really flipping the script.

"My gut tells me ... this is a bad one and a big one," then-federal disaster chief Michael Brown told the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29.

The president didn't ask a single question during the briefing but assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

The footage — along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by AP — show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and Brown, then the Federal Emergency Management Agency chief, told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.

"I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.

So Brown. . .eerily prescient. And definitely the scapegoat of choice for Bush. Bush's whole claim about not knowing about the levee problem is also shot to hell by this tape. I still think Brown made some major screwups, but this makes Chertoff even more of a bumbling ninnyhammer than he seemed before. It also shows that DHS and Bush himself were doing some serious sand-in-the-eyes routines after Katrina, basically an orchestrated "play dumb" about what they knew and didn't know might happen. Chertoff and Bush clearly had it all in front of them, and Brown even foresaw some of it, and collectively they didn't really do jack. Such faith this engenders in Homeland Security.