The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Friday, December 16, 2005

Was Brown Lynched?

In another anti-Rumsfeld post at Belgravia Dispatch, Greg Djerejian pauses for a bit of rote Brownie-bashing. In the comments, I wrote in part:
... is there a credible a posteriori analysis of Michael Brown's failings? He was most harshly criticized during the first days of the Katrina disaster for being unaware of the horrible happenings in New Orleans -- which, we now know, were generally not happening after all.
This elicited one reply, from Brad R. of Sadly, No:
Sammler- you're kidding, right? Check out some of Brownie's e-mails to DHS officials. The best one is [the first].

But the emails cited make only an extremely weak case against Mr. Brown. For example, the first exchange is dated Wednesday 31 August. One Marty Bahamonde writes, in part:
Evacuation in progress. Plans developing for dome evacuation but hotel situation adding to problem. We are out of food and running out of water at the dome, plans in works to address the critical need.
FEMA staff is OK and holding own. DMAT staff working in deplorable conditions. The sooner we can get the medical patients out, the sooner wecan get them out.
And Mr. Brown replied:
Thanks for update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?
Here we have a somewhat confused note, informing Mr. Brown of some problems but also assuring him that his staff are "developing plans" and "holding their own". The letter contains no actionable requests, and does not indicate that the situation is beyond the local FEMA team's capabilities. Mr. Brown responds by asking if Mr. Bahamonde wants him to actually do anything. How is this evidence of incompetence?

Some of the other emails are lightly embarrassing to Mr. Brown and his staff; they show him overly focused on his image, joking with his staff about how great he looks when fully primped for a press conference, and the like. But if this is the best his detractors can show from that hectic week, in which it is fair to suppose that Mr. Brown sent and received thousands of emails, then the case against him is very weak indeed.