Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Brown Dances Before Congress

In his testimony before a congressional panel investigating FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina, former FEMA director Michael Brown stated, "Those are not FEMA roles. FEMA doesn't evacuate communities. FEMA does not do law enforcement. FEMA does not do communications." (BayouBuzz: Hurricane "Brownie" Damages Louisiana). Perhaps Mr. Brown would still be employed had he taken the time to review FEMA’s website and mission statement.

FEMA’s mission statement is to “Lead America to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from disasters.” Well, okay, like most mission statements, that’s suitably vague and can be applied at will to almost any situation. It’s certainly open to interpretation. But FEMA’s official site doesn’t stop there. It lists the organization’s responsibilities in surprising detail:

1. Reduce loss of life and property.
2. Minimize suffering and disruption caused by disasters.
3. Prepare the Nation to address the consequences of terrorism.
4. Serve as the Nation’s portal for emergency management information
and expertise.
5. Create a motivating and challenging work environment for employees.
6. Make FEMA a world-class enterprise.

Well, based on that, I would say FEMA does have the authority to evacuate communities. How better to “Reduce loss of life and property?” The same rule would apply to law enforcement. FEMA doesn’t do communications? Wouldn’t that fall under both “Minimize the suffering and disruption caused by disasters” and “Serve as the Nation’s portal for emergency management information and expertise?”

Sorry, Mr. Brown, but I’m not buying the soft-shoe routine. FEMA is looked upon as the authoritative source for handling national disasters. Trying to dance your way out of responsibility is precisely why you’re unemployed today. At least have the integrity to stand there and admit you dropped the ball. Trying to blame everyone in sight for FEMA’s failings isn’t helping your credibility any. I was fully prepared to give FEMA the benefit of the doubt, provided we as a nation learned from this fiasco and corrected it going forward. The dance routine before congress was uncalled for and embarrassing. You wasted your free pass, in my book.


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