The Face of Failure: FEMA Director Michael Brown Resigned Following Poor Response to Katrina

Bush Praised FEMA Director After Hurricane Hit: “Brownie, You’re Doing A Heck Of A Job.” According to a transcript of George W. Bush’s comments at Mobile Regional Airport in Alabama, President Bush said, “Again, I want to thank you all for — and, Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job. The FEMA Director is working 24 — (applause) — they’re working 24 hours a day. Again, my attitude is, if it’s not going exactly right, we’re going to make it go exactly right. If there’s problems, we’re going to address the problems. And that’s what I’ve come down to assure people of. And again, I want to thank everybody.” [The White House, 9/2/05]

In Response To Criticism, White House Removed FEMA Director Michael Brown As Leader Of Relief Effort. According to the Washington Post, “The Bush administration removed Michael D. Brown, the embattled director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, from the Gulf Coast disaster zone yesterday as the White House tried to regain footing amid criticism of its response to Hurricane Katrina. A week after President Bush praised him for ‘a heck of a job,’ Brown was stripped of duties overseeing the relief efforts, ordered back to Washington and replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen. Although Brown remains FEMA director and the administration presented it as a deployment decision, officials said the president’s aides wanted a more effective, hands-on manager at the scene.” [Washington Post, 9/10/05]

Calls For Brown’s Removal “Were Also A Proxy For Assailing Bush’s Handling Of The Crisis.” According to the Washington Post, “Brown, a lawyer and former official for an Arabian horse association, has become the focal point of anger over the slow, disjointed mobilization when Katrina slammed into the coast last week, drowning New Orleans and wiping out huge parts of Mississippi and Alabama. But demands for his dismissal were also a proxy for assailing Bush’s handling of the crisis, as well as past moves restructuring FEMA and populating its top ranks with political allies.” [Washington Post, 9/10/05]

After Being Replaced As Head Of Relief Effort, FEMA Director Michael Brown Resigned. According to the New York Times, “Three days after being stripped of his duties overseeing the post-hurricane relief effort, Michael D. Brown resigned on Monday as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, saying that he wanted to avoid distracting the agency at a time when it faces a major challenge. […] Mr. Brown’s departure was hardly surprising, given the decision, announced on Friday, to remove him from management of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.” [New York Times, 9/13/05]