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Give Brownie a small cookie

He’s not holding back now. Brownie must have had a come-to-Jeebus moment, with a little angel whispering in his ear that taking the fall for this administration wasn’t a bright idea, and so he’s taking to the airwaves as much as he can. I guess Bush’s check in the mail never came, and now Michael Brown realizes he was working for a sociopath-in-chief.

“It appears to me that, you know, when Chertoff does things like tells me that I’ve got to go to Baton Rouge and plop my butt down on a seat in Baton Rouge and run a disaster from there, I think that shows naivete about how disasters are run,” Brown told CNN. “And you’ve either have to get with it, or move on.”

Asked whether Chertoff should be dismissed, Brown said, “Well, I think so.”

This AM he was back on CNN he called on Congress to do its job and, without partisan sway, find out what went wrong (keep dreaming). He’s still waaaay too light on Dear Leader, but he probably knows Karl Rove’s goons are waiting outside the studio with a bat ready to clock him.

In an interview September 1, three days after landfall, Bush said, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Brown defended his former boss’ statement Thursday, saying Bush had been told the storm’s intensity had decreased after landfall.

“I was still worried about it, because I knew what the potential was,” Brown said. “But I think the president was speaking honestly at that point that he didn’t really anticipate that they would be breached because of all this conflicting information.”

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said he could not discuss Bush’s “private conversations” and would not confirm anything “either way” about whether Brown had discussed the levee breaches with the president.

As unqualified as Brown was on paper for his job as head of FEMA (and as big as his ego is), the AP video shows that he was at least calling for action based on the information he received, and Bush was asleep at the wheel, even after being told how grave the situation was. Brown’s inexperience (and a good helping of naivete as well) bit him in the ass because he placed faith in the Bushworld institutions and individuals/cronies for which disaster management was never a priority. The bureaucracy in place ensured disaster as a response; no one was ready for “The Big One,” including Brown.

For the Chimperor, those briefings were a merely time-out between vacation fun, sitting and listening to all that negativity about bodies and damage just expended the patience and attention that he would have preferred spending playing golf, hobnobbing with buddies and you know, being all presidential and sh*t. It was an inconvenience, even as the levees were breached and the Lower Ninth Ward was becoming a soup of death and destruction.

Once the maelstorm reached its peak, it’s not as if Brown could have resigned in any graceful way — he admitted on CNN this morning that during the immediate period after the hurricane, when troops in were needed in the Gulf region and all the lines of communication between the agencies had broken down, that he should have gone to the media then, to cut through the bull.

Veteran disaster specialists concur that Brownie was set up — not that he was blameless, but that the Bush plan to always have someone outside the inner circle to fall on the sword when a f*ckup occurs can’t apply if you look at the scope of the bungling of the Katrina response.

On Thursday, Knight Ridder interviewed 12 longtime disaster experts, and most believe Brown should not be the scapegoat for the administration.

All but one of them — which included Republicans and Democrats, two former Federal Emergency Management Agency directors, former state and local disaster chiefs and academics who collectively have more than a century’s experience —said they had a hard time buying the Bush administration’s line. Seven of them said they were inclined to believe Brown’s version of events.

Four said Brown and Chertoff were at fault and Bush was especially culpable for hiring them. Only one said he faulted Brown more. Nearly all of them chided the Bush administration for merging FEMA into the new and massive Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

“I believe Brown,” said James Lee Witt, the FEMA director during the Clinton administration. “Look what he tried to warn them of, and nobody listened.”

Former Reagan FEMA chief Gen. Julius Becton, like the others, dismissed the White House’s claim that Brown’s principal failing was his decision to sidestep Chertoff and deal directly with the president and his staff. In an interview Wednesday night, Brown said he made his move to cut through the “fog of bureaucracy” in an effort to speed relief to the Gulf Coast. “At least Brown has been in the business for a couple of years,” Becton said. “When the chain of command is incompetent or you perceive the chain of command is not in the best interest of the agency, you’re duty-bound to go around that chain of command.”

…”Brown apparently screwed up, Chertoff screwed up and both of them were hired by Bush,” said Michael Lindell, the director of the Natural Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M; University.

Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice actually posts a missive, Dear Michael Brown: I Was Wrong.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding