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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Don Imus to interview Joe Lieberman tomorrow

Please, oh please, oh please Don Imus, could you read my post and ask Senator Joe Lieberman a few questions that he's refusing to answer?

Here's a few questions you could throw at him.

1. Given the fact that Senator Lieberman had full access to Michael Brown's resume and background (Lieberman chaired the Committee on Governmental Affairs when the Democrats were in charge in 2002 and was in charied Brown's confirmation hearing), how is that the Senator from Connecticut supported his nomination to be the head of FEMA?

2. Why did Brown's confirmation hearing last only 42 minutes? Did Senator Lieberman not have enough questions to ask the person who would responsible of handling domenstic emergencies and disasters so soon after 9-11?

3. Don't you (Liebreman) think that the person who would be in charge of FEMA have some experience in handling disasters or emergencies?

I'm sure you can come up with a few more questions to ask Senator Lieberman after you read my previous posting or read the article in the Hartford Courant that explains in great detail the Lieberman-Brown connection. You can also give Juliette N. Kayyem, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University a call, I'm sure she can update you on the Lieberman-Brown connection as she posted an account of the hearing online at TPM Cafe and titled the posting 42 minutes of shame.

Here are some key part from Kayyem's post:

It appears, then, that Mike Brown suffered 42 breathtaking minutes of serious nothingness (unless Lieberman's withering questioning regarding whether Brown would sufficiently keep the Senate informed --- duh,yes) to become Deputy Director of FEMA. When FEMA was, just a few months later, subsumed into DHS, Brown didn't need to be Senate confirmed as his new position -- technically as Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response -- was "germane" to his old position. Guess that's true. But it means that the four Senators who showed up to confirm a deputy director were, in fact, confirming the head of America's entire emergency management apparatus.

Worse, still, besides Brown's obvious lack of qualifications, is the obvious lack of any serious questions about previous disasters, what would he do in a future disaster, his thoughts -- if he had any -- on what should be done.

Except one. In an eerie exchange between Lieberman and Brown, when Lieberman is concerned about nuclear facilities and evacuation plans in Connecticut, Brown says this:

I think my role is a very serious one. I think the agency's role is a very serious one, that we should not just wait for someone to petition or request that we evaluate, that those types of plans should be evaluated (plans regarding evacuations) on an ongoing basis. It would be my intent to somehow implement the ongoing evaluation so we do not have to look in hindsight and say, gosh, we wish we had looked at that. We should be looking at that all the time to make sure they (plans) are adequate, and I will pledge to you that we will certianly do that.

Just in case you missed it, previously Brown had said in the testimony:

State and local governments are looking to us for leadership. They are looking to FEMA to tell them where are the holes in response plans? Where are the holes in our mutual aid agreements? What incentives can you provide us to fill those holes?

Mike Brown didn't appear from Mars. He was appointed by the President (shame on him) and confirmed by Congress (shame on them.) And 42 minutes later, Brown was in charge.

Okay, Brown says this and then we get the disaster in New Orleans.

Now Mr. Imus, here's some juicy info from the Courant's article

At the time, Brown, an Oklahoma attorney, was general counsel at FEMA. He got the same kind of quick hearing given to most people nominated to such second-tier posts. Sens. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., introduced Brown and talked about how FEMA helped with recent wildfires in his state.

Brown, Campbell said, had been there "steadfastly and tenaciously" to help. Before Brown began speaking, Lieberman told him, "Mr. Brown, you're off to a good start. Two strong statements of endorsement."

Lieberman talked about FEMA's expanding role, how the disaster relief agency has "got to prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks at home." He quizzed Brown about whether the new mission would find FEMA continuing to maintain its network of strong contacts with state and local officials.

"We've already started down that path," Brown said. "Our partnership has to be with all agencies responding to disasters, all first responders."

Lieberman told him, "That's a good answer."

He spent 8 minutes asking Brown a series of questions, including one on chemical and biological preparedness. "Regardless of the cause of the disaster," Brown assured him, "our response is the same."

Later in the hearing, Lieberman returned for a new round of questions, notably one about preparedness in Connecticut in case of a disaster at a nuclear facility.

Brown said FEMA's role was "a very serious one," and he pledged to look closely at evacuation plans to make sure they were adequate.

Such replies were adequate for Lieberman, who told Brown at the end of the hearing, "I certainly will support your nomination."

Brown became FEMA director in early 2003, and did not have another confirmation hearing. Under legislation pushed by the Bush administration, it was not needed because his new position was germane to his old one.

"I wish there had been a hearing," Lieberman said Friday, and recalled how he wanted more scrutiny of the new FEMA head before he took office.
Now, Mr Imus, after viewing the Courant article, could you please ask Seantor Lieberman why he wish there had been a meeting when he had information on Brown (including a background check and full access to his resume) as early as 2002, chaired the committee that appointed Brown, and only questioned him for a total of 42 minutes most of which was soft-ball questions.

With Brown's shaky resume and background, it's no wonder why FEMA dropped the ball in the crisis and Lieberman should explain why he supported this guy in the first place.

Mr Imus, many people died in the South because of the incompetence of people like Michael Brown and the people who appointed him (President Bush) and supported his nominaiton (Senator Lieberman) should be held accountable. I trust that you will ask Senator Lieberman the hard questions the people in the country are demanding be answered by our politicians and we'll be watching for you to ask the hard questions tomorrow.

Remember, people in this country demand answers.