Lame blame: Former FEMA director Michael Brown has apparently decided that the time for putting off the “blame game” has expired. In an interview for an article in the New York Times, Brown has blamed the Democratic governor of Louisiana and just about everyone involved in the aftermath of the Katrina disaster, with two notable exceptions: President Bush and himself.
Hours after Hurricane Katrina passed New Orleans on Aug. 29, as the scale of the catastrophe became clear, Michael D. Brown recalls, he placed frantic calls to his boss, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, and to the office of the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr.
Mr. Brown … said he told the officials in Washington that the Louisiana governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, and her staff were proving incapable of organizing a coherent state effort and that his field officers in the city were reporting an “out of control” situation.
“I am having a horrible time,” Mr. Brown said he told Mr. Chertoff and a White House official – either Mr. Card or his deputy, Joe Hagin – in a status report that evening. “I can’t get a unified command established.”
Not so, an unidentified White House told the Times:
A senior administration official said Wednesday night that White House officials recalled the conversations with Mr. Brown but did not believe they had the urgency or desperation he described in the interview.
“There’s a general recollection of him saying, ‘They’re going to need more help,’ ” said the official, who insisted on anonymity because of the delicacy of internal White House discussions.
A spokesperson for the Louisiana governor denied Brownie’s account too:
A spokesman for Ms. Blanco denied Mr. Brown’s description of disarray in Louisiana’s emergency response operation. “That is just totally inaccurate,” said Bob Mann, the governor’s communications director. “Everything that Mr. Brown needed in terms of resources or information from the state, he had those available to him.”
Although he has laid blame at the doorsteps of President Bush’s chief of staff and homeland defense secretary, Brownie tries to cover his tracks: “I truly believed the White House was not at fault here,” he says.
We have to wonder if Brownie will stick to that story when the GOP whitewash investigation (assuming there is one) lays all the blame for the Bush Administration’s misdeeds on him.