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September 09, 2005

FEMA Chief Relieved of Katrina Command

Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff has relieved FEMA Director Michael Brown of command of the federal government's hurricane response team:

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being relieved of his command of the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina onsite relief efforts, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced Friday.

He will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts, Chertoff said.

Earlier, Brown confirmed the switch. Asked if he 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."

"Michael Brown has done everything he possibly could to coordinate the federal response to this unprecedented challenge," Chertoff told reporters in Baton Rouge, La. Chertoff sidestepped a question on whether the move was the first step toward Brown's leaving FEMA.

But a source close to Brown, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the FEMA director had been considering leaving after the hurricane season ended in November and that Friday's action virtually assures his departure.

Just two days ago, our colleague Jim Jewell had stated that Brown should resign. Today's move appears to be the first step in that direction.

Posted by Tom at September 9, 2005 03:04 PM

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