"You're surely kidding"

More information about FEMA comes to light.

Published September 16, 2005 7:38PM (EDT)

Salon editorial fellow Aaron Kinney takes another look at FEMA and its former chief, Mike Brown.

A report on National Public Radio today provided a fresh look at the Federal Emergency Management Agencys slow response to Hurricane Katrina.

Veteran FEMA official Leo Bosner, in charge of sending out agency-wide daily National Situation Updates, told NPR that the urgency expressed in his updates before Katrina made landfall was not heeded by those at the top of the agency, including director Mike Brown, who resigned on Monday. Bosner said he was shocked by the agencys lack of responsiveness. "We could see this all going downhill," he said, "but there was nothing we could do."

This isnt the first time Bosner has criticized the agencys leadership. Bosner talked to The Washington Post last year about Brown, who became the head of FEMA in 2003. "He is a nice guy, very caring and sincere," Bosner told the Post. But, nice though Brown might be, Bosner said, "I dont think he has the qualifications for the job."

As for what Brown is qualified for... well, we're not sure of that either. An article from the St. Petersburg Times examining his legal background has come to our attention, and the news isn't good. According to the piece, Brown was a lackluster attorney. When FBI agents came to talk to Stephen Jones, a partner in the Oklahoma City-area law firm that let Brown go after a few years of service in the 1980s, he was surprised that FEMA was considering him for a job.

The agents informed Jones that FEMA wasnt considering Brown for just any job at the agency, but as its director and Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Jones reaction: "Youre surely kidding?"

By Aaron Kinney

Aaron Kinney is a writer in San Francisco. He has a blog.

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