Former Federal Emergency Management Agency head Michael "Brownie" Brown, who was offered up for excoriation following the Hurricane Katrina disaster, said it was White House strategy that had a lot to do with how wrong things went, according to The Associated Press.
(Why do we care, you ask, dear Chicken-Fried News reader? Well, Brownie, as the prez called him, is an Oklahoma CityUniversity graduate. White House strategist Karl Rove stumped in Oklahoma for former U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook's schlubfest of a gubernatorial campaign. Really, this is about Okla-homa, too.)
So, anyway, at a speech in New York City before disaster response students at the Metropolitan College of New York, Brownie accused the administration of politicizing while Rome burned " or in this case, New Orleans flooded. He said some federal officials wanted to "federalize" Louisiana following the Katrina disaster, which meant the federal government would have been given jurisdiction over the area.
As it was, the power remained in the hands of Gov. Kathleen Blanco, also criticized for what at the time seemed like a hesitating response to accepting federal troops. She remained in charge of her state, Brownie said.
"Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking 'We had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic governor and we have a chance to rub her nose in it,'" Brownie said. "We can't do it to Haley (Barbour of Mississippi) because Haley's a white male Republican governor. And we can't do a thing to him. So we're just gonna federalize Louisiana.'"
He said Blanco told him what was going down and that she was adamant not to have what would have amounted to federal martial law in charge of her state.
"This is exactly what we were living but could not bring ourselves to believe. Karl Rove was playing politics while our people were dying," Blanco said through a spokeswoman. "The federal effort was delayed, and now the public knows why. It's disgusting."
Luckily, Oklahoma's response came through " Gov. Brad Henry ordered in the 45th Infantry, which took over the lion's share of the rescue effort and helped New Orleans out. And did so under state government guidance, not federal.
Brownie is now a disaster consultant (and who better?). Rove " well, he helped Istook lose. Now he's back at work for the president.