Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown told a Senate panel Friday that he feels he’s been made a scapegoat for the government’s sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina.
“I certainly feel somewhat abandoned” by the Bush administration now, Brown said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
In the hours after Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast on Monday, August 29, Brown said he bypassed his boss at the Department of Homeland Security and communicated directly with the White House about the disaster.
He described how he “got around DHS” by dealing with President Bush’s top aides instead of going to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
He also contradicted comments by Homeland Security officials that they were unaware of flood dangers in New Orleans, Louisiana, the day that Katrina made landfall.
“For them to now claim that we didn’t have awareness of it, I think is just baloney,” he said. “They should have had awareness of it because they were receiving the same information that we were.”
Brown said FEMA held daily video conference calls on the storm’s impact.
He said, “The record indicates that on numerous occasions” a senior Homeland Security official was “in on those conversations.”
“I find it a little disingenuous that DHS would claim that they were not getting that information,” Brown said.
For more information, see the prepared statements from the HSGAC hearing which are available here.