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FEMA Director Removed From Katrina Duty
ABC News
Sept. 9, 2005

Sept. 9, 2005 — Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown, under criticism due to his management of Hurricane Katrina as well as reported discrepancies on his resume, has been ousted from disaster relief efforts.

And sources have told ABC News that Brown is also expected to be out as head of the agency very soon.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that Brown will return to Washington, D.C., and Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard will be elevated to take over Katrina recovery.

"Mike Brown has done everything he could have possibly done," Chertoff said during a news conference. "I appreciate his work."

FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Asked if Brown was being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism, Brown told The Associated Press after a long pause: "By the press, yes. By the president, no."

In a letter to President Bush, Democratic Senate leaders said that the removal of Brown from Hurricane relief efforts was not enough.

"It is not enough to remove Mr. Brown from the disaster scene as Secretary Chertoff announced today. The individual in charge of FEMA must inspire confidence and be able to coordinate hundreds of federal, state and local resources. Mr. Brown simply doesn't have the ability or the experience to oversee a coordinated federal response of this magnitude," the letter said. It was signed by Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Chuck Schumer of New York.

Critics of Brown point to an extensive list of FEMA's failures since the hurricane struck Aug. 29. Topping the list was what happened at the convention center in New Orleans. There, 25,000 people were essentially stranded for four days.

Bush praised Brown's work on his first visit to the scene of the hurricane.

"And Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job. The FEMA director's been working 24 hours," Bush said on Sept. 5 as the crowd burst into applause.

Previous Experience

Brown was a longtime friend of Joseph Allbaugh, a former Bush campaign manager who directed FEMA from March 2001 to March 2003. Brown was the deputy chief of FEMA in 2001 and moved up when Allbaugh left.

Before becoming part of the agency, Brown was a top official of the Arabian Horse Association. The secretary of that association says Brown was asked to resign in 2001.

Time magazine reported this week on discrepancies in Brown's background, including his role in emergency service in Oklahoma and his work as a professor at Central State University.

A 2001 press release on the White House Web site says that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978, "overseeing emergency services divisions." Brown's official biography on the FEMA Web site says that his background in state and local government also includes serving as "an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight" and as a city councilman.

Both Time and The Associated Press were told by city officials that Brown was an assistant to the city manager and not an assistant city manager.

A university official told the magazine that Brown was a student at the University of Central Oklahoma (formerly Central State University) and may have been an adjunct instructor, not a professor.