Create a independent commission and fire Michael Brown
This is just outrageous! This is simple, I've lost all respect for this administration and the Republicans that still have the nerve to support an administration that has clearly failed it's people.
It's obvious that an independent commision needs to be established ot look into what when wrong with the government's response to the hurricane. At this point, I wouldn't trust anything that is coming out of the White House (how's that guitar Mr. President). Anyone who can say that Michael Brown is "doing a good job" simply isn't out of touch with what's really going on.
President Bush, stung by criticism of the government's ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina, announced Tuesday that he will launch an investigation into what hampered the relief effort.
But the president rejected calls from some top Democratic lawmakers that he fire Federal Emergency Management Agency director Mike Brown. At a White House meeting Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, told the president that Brown had proven "incompetent" at his job.
Pelosi's criticism came as the Associated Press reported that internal documents show Brown waited until hours after the hurricane had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region -- and then gave them two days to arrive.
A memo by Brown, although written before it was known that the levees protecting New Orleans had broken, allowing floodwaters to pour into the city, showed a lack of understanding of the potential scope of the disaster, critics said.
"Governments at all levels failed," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. "It is difficult to understand the lack of preparedness and the ineffective initial response to a disaster that had been predicted for years and for which specific, dire warnings had been given for days."
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., called for an independent commission to investigate the disaster response modeled on the panel that reviewed the government's handling of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"The Katrina Commission would be charged with providing a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of what could and should have been done to avoid the extraordinary damage, the loss of life, the evacuation problems and the inadequate relief efforts," Clinton said.
Some lawmakers already are laying much of the blame on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and on the Department of Homeland Security, the huge newly created agency that has been given tens of billions of dollars to get the nation ready for a major crisis.
Critics have singled out Brown, the head of the emergency management agency, who was commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association before joining the agency as general counsel in 2001. Brown was sharply criticized for telling CNN Thursday night he did not know that thousands of people had no food or water at the New Orleans convention center -- even though TV images had shown their plight all day.
"If somebody is incompetent, has no credentials for the job that he holds, and that, I would say, is Michael Brown, the head of FEMA ... then he should not continue in that job," Pelosi said after her meeting at the White House.
The internal documents disclosed Tuesday showed that Brown sought approval to send employees to the Gulf Coast from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response.
Before then, the emergency agency had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged Tuesday the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.
Bush, similarly, brushed aside questions from reporters earlier in the day about whether any officials in his administration would be fired for their performance.
"I think one of the things that people want us to do here is to play a blame game," Bush said. "There will be ample time for people to figure out what went right and what went wrong. What I'm interested in is helping save lives."
Top Republican lawmakers also appeared to steer the discussion away from blaming specific individuals for the government's sluggish initial response.
"To call for people's heads early on almost, to me, misses the root of the problem," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. "It's a systemwide approach ... that we need to investigate."
Pentagon officials on Tuesday defended the military's response to the disaster. At a news conference, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers said there was no delay in sending troops, equipment and supplies.
"We were pushing support before we were formally asked for it," Myers said.
A reporter asked: Why then were people in downtown New Orleans complaining that they had no food and water for days?
"There was food or water being brought in, and maybe those quantities weren't sufficient," Myers said. He added that many helicopter crews were out searching for people stranded in their homes instead of delivering supplies. "The first priority was to save lives."
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he can't understand how media crews were able to get in and out of the convention center with cameras and satellite equipment for more than a day before the National Guard troops arrived with fresh supplies for evacuees.
"They couldn't get water in, they couldn't get doctors in, they couldn't get support in," Leahy said. "Where in God's name were the people who were supposed to bring water and support? People were dying there. They were losing hope there."