While people were drowning and enduring the hell of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA Director Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown had other things on his mind, Knight Ridder reports:
Even as subordinates warned him that the flooding of New Orleans was a matter of life or death, Michael Brown, the now-dismissed head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, remained strangely detached from the crisis, e-mails made public Wednesday show.
He mused about his future, joked about a new shirt and wondered how he looked on TV.
KR provides "verbatim text" of Brown's email correspondance, which included frequent musings about his clothes, how he looked on TV, and a series of exchanges on Sept. 1 (the day Brown supposedly found out desperate people were teaming in the New Orleans convenion center) focused on getting a new dog sitter:
"My eyes must certainly be deceiving me. You look fabulous - and I'm not talking the makeup!" - Cindy Taylor, FEMA deputy director of public affairs, to Brown, commenting on Brown's TV appearance on the morning of Aug. 29, when Katrina hit.
Brown's response: "I got it at Nordstrom's. Email (FEMA spokeswoman Lee Anne) McBride and make sure she knows! Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?"
An hour later, Brown e-mailed Taylor: "If you look at my lovely FEMA attire you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god."
"Is this your last hurrah? I'll be in DC the end of next week and would love to see you. Suspect you might still be in La/Ms etc - especially knowing how much you love to hang around DC/DHS/NAC etc." - Betty Guhman, a colleague who just left Homeland Security (DHS), to Brown on Sept. 1.
Brown's response: "Last hurrah was supposed to have been Labor Day. I'm trapped now, please rescue me."
"Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical. Here some things you might not know. Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes.
"The dying patients at the DMAT (disaster medical assistance team) tent being medivac. Estimates are many will die within hours. Evacuation in process. 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 we can get them out.
"Phone connectivity impossible." - Marty Bahamonde, FEMA regional director, to Brown, describing the situation in New Orleans on Aug. 31.
Brown's response: "Thanks for update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?"
Is this man in jail for criminal negligence? Has he been ridiculed in D.C., forcefully condemned by the Bush Administration, and shunned into private life?
No -- he's still working at FEMA on the taxpayer's dime.
And the Bush team still refuses to cooperate with the Congressional investigation and turn over documents critical to understanding what happened:
The Republican who heads a Congressional panel investigating the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina complained Wednesday that the Bush administration had failed to turn over documents the panel requested weeks ago.
The official, Representative Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, also threatened to issue subpoenas to compel administration officials to release the documents if they did not comply with the committee's request.
Another day, another subpoena.