Thursday, April 27, 2006

Abolishing FEMA?

"FEMA was independent — and highly regarded — until March 2003, after the Department of Homeland Security was created because of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Not quite. Clinton appointee James Witt transformed FEMA into a highly regarded agency, after George Bush I had ruined it.

In January, 2001, Bush II set about undermining the agency by appointing political hacks like Joseph Allbaugh to run it and 'privatizing' its most important functions. As Josh Marshall correctly recalled six months ago:
Bush demoted the agency’s status and put it in the hands of his chief political fixer, Joe Allbaugh, who went about dismantling much of what Witt had built. As he told Congress in May 2001: “Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective state and local risk management. Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level.”

Tapping Allbaugh, a political operative with no clear experience for the job, was the first clear sign of the importance the new administration attached to the agency’s responsibilities. And that attitude suffused hiring pretty much down the line. As his general counsel, Allbaugh picked his old college roommate Michael D. Brown, another political hire with no emergency-management experience whatsoever.
There's nothing wrong with FEMA that couldn't be fixed by a change at the very top of the U.S. government.

Dept. of Amplification

CT Blogger reminds us that the depths to which FEMA has sunk are not entirely the fault of the Bush Administration. Holy Joe Lieberman has a lot to do with it, too.

Then again, isn't Lieberman a member of the Bush administration? He sure votes like one.

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