Friday, November 04, 2005

"Brownie, You're Doing a Heck of a Job"

For that phrase, if for no other reason, George W. Bush should be held responsible for the appointment, and the actions, of Michael Brown. Because these e-mails indicate what Mr. Brown was up to while Katrina was slamming the Gulf Coast.

There are a lot of them, however. And the better way to get a handle on the situation, is to read Rep. Melancon's summary of them, which is available here. (He also has the e-mails available through his web site, but they are apparently getting too many hits, because I've yet to be able to read them.)

Skip down to page 6 of Melancon's summary, where you can find Brown sending e-mails on August 26th to his press secretary, focussed not on the crisis in New Orleans of the rest of the Gulf Coast, but on his attire: "I am a fashion god," he writes. And after a long e-mail detailing the disaster that has hit the Gulf (this on August 31st, 2 days after the hurricane) and stating "the situation is past critical, Brown's entire reply is: "Thanks for the update. Anything I need to do or tweak?"

And then there are the e-mails about Brownie's concern with "pet-sitting" on August 31st. His pets, of course.

The summary is a PDF file which unfortunately I can't copy it, so I'll use the CNN account. Follow the time-line:

Melancon used an e-mail sent September 2, four days after the hurricane hit, to illustrate his point. On that day, Brown received a message with the subject "medical help." At the time, thousands of patients were being transported to the New Orleans airport, which had been converted to a makeshift hospital. Because of a lack of ventilators, medical personnel had to ventilate patients by hand for as long as 35 hours, according to Melancon.

The text of the e-mail reads: "Mike, Mickey and other medical equipment people have a 42-foot trailer full of beds, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, etc. They are wanting to take them where they can be used but need direction.

"Mickey specializes in ventilator patients so can be very helpful with acute care patients. If you could have someone contact him and let him know if he can be of service, he would appreciate it. Know you are busy but they really want to help."

Melancon said Brown didn't respond for four days, when he forwarded the original e-mail to FEMA Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks Altshuler and Deputy Director of Response Michael Lowder.

The text of Brown's e-mail to them read: "Can we use these people?"
But the worst is yet to come:

"Can I quit now? Can I come home?" Brown wrote to Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of public affairs, the morning of the hurricane.

A few days later, Brown wrote to an acquaintance, "I'm trapped now, please rescue me."
The irony of that childish plea is so bitter that if you wrote it into a story, no critic would accept it except as the most unnecessary and inexplicable bile. As Mark Twain said, of course truth is stranger than fiction; fiction has to be believable.

This is absolutely unbelievable.

UPDATE: Maureen Dowd noticed the e-mails, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment