[From the diaries by susanhu with tiny edits.] Michael Brown has been kicked out of the Gulf. During the FEMA press conference covering this breaking news, Michael Chertoff of Homeland Security said that Brown had done “everything he possibly could”? If what he has done is indeed “everything he possibly could,” that shows what an immense failure he has been as the head of FEMA. In response to questions from a journalist at the press conference who asked if this was the first step in Brown’s resignation and if he would respond to news about discrepancies in his online resume, Chertoff refused to allow Brown to answer and chastised the reporter by saying that he thought he had made the ground rules perfectly clear and “in English” while defensively stating that Brown would not answer any questions.

AP has the story on the flip, along with news/comments about Karen Hughes:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being relieved of his duties in managing the Bush administration’s Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts, The Associated Press has learned.

Brown is being sent back to Washington from Baton Rouge, where he was the primary official overseeing the federal government’s response to the disaster, according to two federal officials who declined to be identified before the announcement.

Brown will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad w. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.

Chertoff claimed that Brown was being sent to Washington so he could get back to leading FEMA as a whole, but Brownie has been sent to the back of the bus:

Amid escalating calls for Brown’s ouster, the White House had insisted publicly for days that Bush retained confidence in his FEMA chief. But there was no question that Brown’s star was fading in the administration. In the storm’s early days, Brown was the president’s primary briefer on its path and the response effort, but by the weekend those duties had been taken over by Brown’s boss – Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

There were recent signs that Brown’s status was about to change. When Vice President Dick Cheney received a briefing in New Orleans on Thursday on recovery efforts by FEMA and other governmental agencies, it was Allen – not Brown – who led the briefing.

And even though Brown was present at least during part of Cheney’s visit, he was not seen publicly with the vice president.

Yes, this man whom Bush said was “doing a heck of a job” is slowly melting into oblivion. And so he should.

Via CNN, it is being reported that Harry Reid is circulating a letter that Brown must be removed immediately. No doubt. The sooner the better. Having said that, who would his replacement be? What other political hacks are sitting out there waiting for a plum Bushco appointment who don’t have any experience with the job they’ll be tasked to carry out?

Oh, and by the way, did you know that Bush’s sidekick, Karen Hughes, was appointed as Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Ambassador for the State Department this morning? Yup. And we all know how extremely well qualified she isn’t for that job. What a farce. But, Bush needed to find some high profile job for the woman who acts as Laura Bush’s evil twin. Look at the dynamics at State now: Rice and Hughes – both of Bush’s fill-in wives. How convenient. Hughes? Linked to diplomacy? What a joke. You don’t send a pitbull to do a St Bernard’s job.

Hughes has already begun her job. From WaPo’s article aptly titled, Hughes Is Varnishing the Nation’s Tarnish, you’ll find these gems:

The Bush confidante, now undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, held a meeting with her staff in Foggy Bottom yesterday and was asked about the international ramifications of the response to the New Orleans flooding. The problem, Hughes replied, was not a failed relief effort but a foreign press that did not appreciate the federal government’s good work.

One of her underlings rose to ask how this effort squared with the administration’s famously tight control over its message. “Recently, we’ve had tremendous amount of difficulty in some cases getting clearance for our ambassadors to speak,” he said.

Hughes replied that ambassadors are free to talk — if they use the talking points she sends them. “If they make statements based on something I sent them,” she said, “they’re not going to be called on the carpet.”


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