September 28, 2005

"Think Progress"? I Think Not

My response to a poorly-researched, dishonestly-written Think Progress posted about former FEMA Director Brown's congressional testimony yesterday.

BROWN CLAIM: "FEMA doesn't evacuate communities."

FACT: Brown Said FEMA Was Engaging In Evacuations During Katrina

If there is still floodwaters around there, they shouldn't be trying to evacuate those patients by themselves. The Coast Guard, FEMA, all of those continue to do those rescue missions and we continue to do those evacuations and we'll certainly continue to evacuate all of the hospitals. [CNN, 9/1/05]

You can't tell the fundamental difference between a pre-storm evacuation, which is a local/state issues, and the post storm rescue/recovery phase, which FEMA does get involved with. You don't know your subject matter.

BROWN CLAIM: FEMA Was Stretched Beyond It Capabilities

"Mr. Chairman, this event stretched FEMA beyond its capabilities. There's no question about that. It did it in several ways. One is FEMA, over the past several years, has lost a lot of manpower. At one point during my tenure, because of assessments by the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA has lost — at one point, we were short 500 people in an organization of about 2,500. You do the math. That's pretty significant… FEMA has suffered from the inability to grow to meet the demands."

FACT: Brown Said FEMA Had All The Manpower It Needed

BLITZER: Are you ready? Is FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ready to deal with this new hurricane?

BROWN: We absolutely are. We have all the manpower and resources we need. President Bush has been a very great supporter of FEMA. [CNN, 9/26/04]

Did you bother to even check the storm size and estimated damage from 9/26/05 to landfall? Katrina was just a weak Category 1 or Category 2 Hurricane on 9/26 depending on the time of day the question was asked. It only hit Cat 4 status on 9/28.

What a completely bogus comparison between a comment made about a weak storm, and a comment made about one of the most powerful storms to ever hit land.

BROWN CLAIM: "I can't discuss with you my conversations with the president's chief of staff and the president."

FACT: Brown Spoke to New York Times About Conversations With Chief of Staff

"Hours after Hurricane Katrina passed New Orleans on Aug. 29, as the scale of the catastrophe became clear, Michael D. Brown recalls, he placed frantic calls to his boss, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, and to the office of the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr. … 'I am having a horrible time,' Mr. Brown said he told Mr. Chertoff and a White House official — either Mr. Card or his deputy, Joe Hagin — in a status report that evening. 'I can't get a unified command established.'" [NYT, 9/15/05]

No contradiction here, at all. Read it again. One conversation was just with the C.O.S., which he could reveal. He could not, however and for whatever reason, discuss his conversation with the C.O.S. and the President.

Think Progress is a non-partisan organization? Could have fooled me.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 28, 2005 07:18 AM | TrackBack

In reference to your second point, it was clear Katrina would grow into a larger storm, so saying Brown was only referring to a weak storm misses the point. He should have known, like everyone was warning, that it would be much worse when it finally got there.

Posted by: joe at September 28, 2005 12:27 PM

The important question we should be asking is: why is the citation for Brown's remark from 9/26/04? Is it possible that Think Progress cherry-picked an assertive comment from an interview over a year ago just to make Brown look bad? Could it be just a simple typo? Hmmm...

Hurricane Jeanne happens to correspond to 9/26/04, when it made landfall near Stuart, Florida. While it caused a lot of damage, the storm was a cat. 2-3 at best, and was downgraded to a tropical storm on 9/27/04.

Jeanne also happened to strike only a few weeks after Frances, and in almost the same place. FEMA was in the region dealing with the fallout from Frances. Could that mean that the "new hurricane" that Blitzer is talking about is Jeanne - because, afterall, why would he be talking about a "new" hurricane before Katrina? It is possible that Brown would have said they had all the resources they needed to deal with Jeanne...since they would have had feet on the ground already in the wake of Frances...

Its convenient that Think Progress didn't list sources, since I'm having a bitch of a time finding the Blitzer interview transcript.

Posted by: Josh at September 28, 2005 01:23 PM

You're wasting your time on those wingnuts.

Willful ignorance is all they have to prevent their house of canards from crashing down.

Good effort though!

Posted by: Mike's America at September 30, 2005 01:11 AM