Monday, February 06, 2006

Heckuva Job Brownie: The Backstory

via Surburban Guerilla:

Unholy Trinity: Katrina, Allbaugh and Brown

and the full text version:

Unholy Trinity: Katrina, Allbaugh and Brown

Michael Brown will forever remain the poster child for federal incompetence. And the central question has yet to be answered: who was Michael Brown, and how did he end up at the helm of the Federal Emergency Management Agency? Indeed, how did he and his predecessor and mentor, Bush political operative Joe Allbaugh, manage to turn FEMA, a once proud and effective agency, into a national laughingstock?


But why Michael Brown? [] When pressed, the taciturn Allbaugh tersely replied that Brown was a lifelong friend in whom he had confidence. To this moment, that has remained the official, indeed only, explanation of how and why Michael Brown was running FEMA when Hurricane Katrina struck.

The truth, RealNews has learned, is that the relationship between the two is a decades-long hidden partnership designed to advance both men's business and personal interests. By all appearances, that relationship encompassed Allbaugh's decision to ask Bush to let him run FEMA, and then his decision to turn the place over to Brown so he could profit from their ties.

Indeed, as soon as Allbaugh left the agency, he began cashing in. Today, both Allbaugh and Brown are consultants, making money off their connections at FEMA and in the administration—tattered and tarnished though their legacies may be. And now FEMA is staffed by others put into position by the two men and run by David Paulison, best known for having advised Americans to stock up on duct tape as protection against future terrorist attacks.

Is this really just about incompetence as a byproduct of a deeply ideological presidency? Or has a debilitating "culture of corruption" become deeply embedded in agencies like FEMA on which we literally rely for our lives? And just how far into the Bush White House does this dismaying story reach?

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