Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another Bush Scapegoat

(CBS/AP) Former FEMA head Michael Brown says newly released tapes show that he did, in fact, know the danger Hurricane Katrina posed to the Gulf Coast and that he warned White House officials about it before the storm hit.

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The tapes show Brown on a video teleconference the day before the hurricane made landfall warning President Bush, Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff and other top officials of the looming danger.

"We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Brown warned in the Aug. 28 briefing. He called the storm "a bad one, a big one" and implored federal agencies to cut through red tape to help people, bending rules if necessary.

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Brown said in the interview that National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield was sounding the alarm about the coming storm and "everyone in the room heard that. Everyone in the room knew the disaster we were facing. It was a disaster we had thought about for two years and had sought funding for so we could do the catastrophic planning to respond to a disaster like that," he said.

For months since the devastation of Katrina, Brown has been the chief scapegoat for what many see as the Bush administration's most glaring failure in its response to the outcry from millions of victims who went without food or shelter for days after the storm. Throughout the controversy Brown maintained he and the Bush administration were fully aware of the danger posed by the Category 4 storm and that he tried, sometimes in vain, to speed officials to take action.

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Mr. Bush, who participated in the call from his ranch in Texas, didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."




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