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Context of 'Between 8:00pm and 9:00 pm August 26, 2005: Director Michael Brown Says FEMA Prepared, Urges Residents to Follow State Evacuation Plans'

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John Magaw.John Magaw. [Source: Public domain]About a week before 9/11, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Joe Allbaugh replaces the agency’s acting deputy director, John Magaw, a veteran federal law enforcement agent and experienced counterterrorism official, with Michael Brown, a close friend of his and a long-time political associate with no previous experience in emergency management. [Baker, 2009, pp. 484] Magaw is a former director of the US Secret Service and of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). In December 1999, Magaw was appointed at FEMA to coordinate the agency’s domestic terrorism efforts. [Market Wire, 12/1999] Allbaugh nominated Michael Brown as the agency’s general counsel upon taking office in January. Brown previously worked as a lawyer for a horse racing association. He has no experience in disaster management (See March 1, 2003). According to Russ Baker, an independent investigative journalist and author of Family of Secrets, a Bush family expose: “One day, Mr. Allbaugh came in and said, ‘I know you’ve got these other things to do. I’m going to ask Mr. Brown to be deputy,’ recalled Magaw who promptly returned to the subordinate position assigned him by Clinton. The timing was remarkable. Just a week before September 11, 2001, Allbaugh replaced a key anti-terrorism official with a crony who had close to zero relevant experience.” [Baker, 2009, pp. 484]

Entity Tags: Joseph M. Allbaugh, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown, John W. Magaw

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

FEMA is merged into the Emergency and Response Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. Michael D. Brown, the agency’s new head (see March 1, 2003), assures skeptics that the revamped agency will be “FEMA on steroids.” [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004] FEMA’s Cabinet status disappears as it becomes one of 22 government agencies to be consolidated into DHS. According to the Washington Post,“For a time… even its name was slated to vanish and become simply the directorate of emergency preparedness and response until then-DHS Secretary Tom Ridge relented.” [Washington Post, 9/4/2005]

Entity Tags: US Department of Homeland Security, Michael D. Brown, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

FEMA Director Michael Brown appears on CNN’s Larry King to report on preparations: “FEMA is positioning all of its material and manpower to be ready to respond as this thing makes—begins to move through the Gulf and make landfall again,” and warns that “all those people living all the way from Louisiana over to the Florida Panhandle need to think now about getting ready for what could be a very major storm.” Brown continues: “You know, everyone has been talking about the fact that we’re over a million people without power [in Florida]. And that’s at a Category 1 level. Think about if this storm moves to a Category 4 level. I want folks in that potential strike zone to think very seriously this weekend about a storm striking anywhere from Louisiana over to the Florida Panhandle area.” Brown also explains FEMA’s role. According to Brown, FEMA prepares for the “maybes” (i.e., places like Mobile, New Orleans, and Mississippi), by pre-positioning things. “We have literally convoys of trucks going to different Air Force bases. We talk to the governors about what their potential evacuation plans are. And we really try to get the message out to individuals in those areas. To listen to your local newscast, listen to your local weather reports, follow those instructions.… And then we try to anticipate where it might make landfall across a broad range of land, and be ready to move in anywhere any governor might ask us to go.” [CNN, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Michael D. Brown, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Congress, stung into action by the Bush administration’s poor response to Hurricane Katrina and particularly the ineptitude of Michael Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA—see Early September 2001), passes a law saying that President Bush must nominate a replacement who has “a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management,” and “not less than five years of executive leadership.” In a signing statement, Bush says that only he, the head of the executive branch, can decide who to appoint to offices. Therefore, he states, he is ignoring the prohibition. [Savage, 2007, pp. 239-240]

Entity Tags: Bush administration (43), George W. Bush, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

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