is focused more on tracking down the whistleblowers than the people accused of torturing detainees.
“A Texas grand jury’s recent interest in conspiracy charges could lead to last-minute criminal indictments — possibly against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — as it wraps up its investigation Wednesday,” AP reports. (Via TPM)
Today, while testifying under oath, Mike Brown claimed that Louisiana Gov. Blanco’s August 27th request to the President for a federal emergency declaration excluded Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquerines parishes. Here’s Brown today under questioning by Rep. Steve Buyer:
BUYER: So I’d like to know why did the president’s federal emergency assistance declaration of August 27th not include the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines?
BROWN: …[I]f a governor does not request a particular county or a particular parish, that’s not included in the request.
BUYER: All right.
Orleans Parish is New Orleans. I was listening to my colleague, Mr. Jefferson’s, questions about when they talked about, you know, they asked for this assistance for three days and then president responded the very next day, not the day that it was made — the request — but the governor of Louisiana actually excluded New Orleans from the president’s federal emergency assistance declaration?
BROWN: Again, Congressman, we looked at the request.The governors make the request by…
BUYER: Let me ask this. Since you went through the exercise in Pam, was that not shocking to you that the governor would excluded New Orleans from the declaration?
BUYER: When that request came in excluding these three parishes, did you question it?
BROWN: We questioned it. But I made the decision that we were going to go ahead and move assets in regardless because we have the ability to add those parishes…
I’m glad we are paying Brown his full salary so we can learn from “his views on his experience with Katrina.”
Tomorrow, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led by anti-environment champion James Inhofe (R-OK), will hold a hearing to “discuss the role of science in environmental policy making.”
It’s an important topic, given the tendency in Washington to choose ideology over facts. Unfortunately, Inhofe’s witness list wasn’t available on the committee’s website, so we called today to find out who would be speaking.
And why would Inhofe invite a fiction author to testify on the role of science in environmental policy making? We think you’ll understand after reading a synopsis of Crichton’s latest book, State of Fear, about a scientist named Nicholas Drake:
Drake is frustrated by the public’s lack of fear about global warming and, hence, lack of enthusiasm for funding NERF [the environmental group Drake runs]. To remedy the situation, he plans a high-profile conference on “abrupt climate change,” a phenomenon that is essentially fabricated. To make sure folks are good and scared about the imaginary threat, he contracts with the Environmental Liberation Front (ELF) — …a sophisticated, highly coordinated, techno-savvy worldwide terrorist network of dreadlocked hippies — to create a series of floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis that will devastate the world on the eve of the conference.
The bad news: the book’s science is apparently even worse than its plot.
UPDATE: In the comments, Brookings.edu editor Fred Dews points out that Brookings environment scholar David Sandalow, another speaker at tomorrow’s hearings, also has a column picking apart the bad science in Crichton’s book.
Today, answering questions before a special congressional panel set up to investigate Katrina, Michael Brown tried to resuscitate his reputation. The facts didn’t back him up so Brown engaged in some revisionist history.
BROWN CLAIM: “FEMA doesn’t evacuate communities.”
FACT: Brown Said FEMA Was Engaging In Evacuations During Katrina
If there is still floodwaters around there, they shouldn’t be trying to evacuate those patients by themselves. The Coast Guard, FEMA, all of those continue to do those rescue missions and we continue to do those evacuations and we’ll certainly continue to evacuate all of the hospitals. [CNN, 9/1/05]
BROWN CLAIM: FEMA Was Stretched Beyond It Capabilities
“Mr. Chairman, this event stretched FEMA beyond its capabilities. There’s no question about that. It did it in several ways. One is FEMA, over the past several years, has lost a lot of manpower. At one point during my tenure, because of assessments by the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA has lost — at one point, we were short 500 people in an organization of about 2,500. You do the math. That’s pretty significant… FEMA has suffered from the inability to grow to meet the demands.”
FACT: Brown Said FEMA Had All The Manpower It Needed
BLITZER: Are you ready? Is FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ready to deal with this new hurricane?
BROWN: We absolutely are. We have all the manpower and resources we need. President Bush has been a very great supporter of FEMA. [CNN, 9/26/04]
BROWN CLAIM: “I can’t discuss with you my conversations with the president’s chief of staff and the president.”
FACT: Brown Spoke to New York Times About Conversations With Chief of Staff
“Hours after Hurricane Katrina passed New Orleans on Aug. 29, as the scale of the catastrophe became clear, Michael D. Brown recalls, he placed frantic calls to his boss, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, and to the office of the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr. “¦ ‘I am having a horrible time,’ Mr. Brown said he told Mr. Chertoff and a White House official — either Mr. Card or his deputy, Joe Hagin — in a status report that evening. ‘I can’t get a unified command established.’” [NYT, 9/15/05]
Appearing today before a congressional committee, Mike Brown explains what caused his downfall at FEMA:
While FEMA was trying to respond to probably the largest natural disaster in the history of this country, a catastrophic disaster that the president has described covering an area the size of Great Britain — I have heard 90,000 square miles — unless you have been there and seen it, you don’t realize exactly how bad and how big it was — but in the middle of trying to respond to that, FEMA’s press office became bombarded with requests to respond immediately to false statements about my resume and my background.
Ironically, it started with an organization called horsesass.org, that on some blog published a false, and, frankly, in my opinion, defamatory statement that the media just continued to repeat over and over. Next, one national magazine not only defamed me, but my alma mater, the Oklahoma City University School of Law, in one sentence alone leveling six false charges.
But I guess it’s the media’s job. But I don’t like it. I think it’s false. It came at the wrong time. And I think it led potentially to me being pulled out of Louisiana because it made me somewhat ineffective.
The nation owes HorsesAss.org a debt of gratitude.
Retiring FDA commissioner Lester Crawford had a reputation for pushing bunk right-wing science on behalf of anti-choice activists. Unfortunately, President Bush plans to replace Crawford with Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, who also has a reputation for pushing bunk right-wing science on behalf of anti-choice activists.
Von Eschenbach is currently the director of the National Cancer Institute. Within months of his appointment in 2002, the institute abruptly altered a fact sheet on its website “that for years stated the absence of a link between abortion and breast cancer.” Under von Eschenbach, the language was changed to suggest that tests disproving the abortion/breast cancer link were “inconclusive.”
This sent the scientific community into an uproar. Numerous studies, including a massive New England Journal of Medicine study of 1.5 million Danish women, have discounted any connection between abortion and breast cancer. Yet right-wingers continue to push the link as a way to frighten women considering having an abortion.
After enormous pressure, and a statement by 100 institute scientists, von Eschenbach backed down. Yet von Eschenbach’s promotion shows that the days of ideology trumping science at the FDA aren’t over. (Now it’s time for the media to pay attention — not a single mainstream story on the FDA personnel changes has mentioned this controversy.)