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More problems at FEMA

Old 10-29-07, 05:44 PM
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More problems at FEMA

Everyone's favorite government agency is at it again!

FEMA PR chief loses new job after fake news briefing

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The man who oversaw public affairs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency when it held a fake news conference last week will no longer be taking over as head of public relations for the director of national intelligence.

Pat Philbin, FEMA's external affairs director, was scheduled to become director of public affairs for National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell on Monday. It was not immediately clear whether he offered his resignation or was fired just as he was set to begin the job.

As of Sunday, officials only said that they were aware of concerns.

But Monday, the director of national intelligence office issued this statement: "We do not normally comment on personnel matters. However, we can confirm that Mr. Philbin is not, nor is he scheduled to be, the director of public affairs for the office of the director of national intelligence."

FEMA Director David Paulison said Philbin sent him an e-mail in which he took full responsibility for last week's staging of the news conference.

FEMA, part of the Department of Homeland Security, called a news conference Tuesday in Washington on the agency's handling of the California wildfires.

The agency said no media representatives showed up because the conference was announced at the last minute. Instead, reporters called in on a phone line but couldn't ask questions

The agency released a video of the conference with FEMA employees asking less than hard-hitting questions.

Deputy Director Harvey Johnson, who was fielding questions, gave no indication at the time that staff members were asking the questions.

He later apologized, calling the fake briefing an "error in judgment."

"I am calling to apologize and say it will not happen again," Paulison said in a phone call to CNN.

He said rules are changing to prevent any reoccurrence. Reporters will be given at least an hour's warning before a press conference and those calling in will be able to ask questions in the future, he said.

Paulison said he is continuing to investigate. He said he understands that FEMA officials did not plan to ask questions and did so only when reporters failed to appear.

Disciplinary action is being taken against some FEMA employees, he said.

Another official said that reprimands have been issued and more may be coming.

Johnson "really didn't have an awareness" of what was taking place, according to Paulison. The FEMA director said Johnson wasn't familiar with everyone in the press office and did not recognize staffers asking questions.

"He just feels sick about it," Paulison said. "He feels his credibility has been hurt."

However, reporters noted that Johnson called on at least one person by name.

FEMA generally received high marks for its response to the California wildfires after fierce criticism over its handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but Paulison said he was sure the conference flap has had a bad effect on morale.

"The last two years of planning for a major disaster fell in place," Paulison said. "Things were working as they were supposed to ... and that just killed everything you tried to have happen."

The head of homeland security also has blasted the fake news briefing and said those behind it showed "extraordinarily poor judgment."

"I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've ever seen since I've been in government," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Saturday.

The White House said it was unaware of the briefing beforehand.

"It is not a practice that we would employ here at the White House," said press secretary Dana Perino. "We certainly don't condone it."
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/...tml#cnnSTCText

In fairness to FEMA, they seem to have done a much better job dealing with the California wildfires than they did with Katrina.
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Old 10-29-07, 05:49 PM
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A fake news briefing. How very soviet of them.
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Old 10-29-07, 05:58 PM
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I heard about this. How freaking stupid is that. I immediately thought of the Coors Light commercials.
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Old 10-29-07, 06:03 PM
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I wish some of our other federal agencies would implement fake policies.
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Old 10-29-07, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
In fairness to FEMA, they seem to have done a much better job dealing with the California wildfires than they did with Katrina.
And in even more fairness to FEMA they were asked to help right away unlike during Katrina where they were asked not to interfere for the first 72 hours.

Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, the Federal Government and FEMA are not allowed to interfere with local operations unless they are authorized by state and local leaders.

Blanco did not authorize this until September 1, 2005.

The storm hit on August 29th. Bush sent an order on August 27th to Brown to prepare for Katrina relief.

I've long said that the problem with the Katrina response was with the state government. What FEMA did here in California was great and it's what we can expect when they aren't handcuffed.
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Old 10-29-07, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I heard about this. How freaking stupid is that. I immediately thought of the Coors Light commercials.
<div><object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/xklqixUk5ZQ&rel=1"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/xklqixUk5ZQ&rel=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object></div>
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Old 10-29-07, 08:28 PM
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The real 'tragedy' of this is yet another demonstration of just how incompetent the Bush administration is.

They can't get something simple like this right.

It's not FEMA that deserves the credit in CA. It's the good coordination between the state & local organs of the state that deserve credit.

No one is saying that FEMA can't do a good job. What people say is that the FEMA of this administration seems to be incapable of doing a good job.
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Old 10-29-07, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I heard about this. How freaking stupid is that. I immediately thought of the Coors Light commercials.
You should write for CBS News:


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Old 10-29-07, 09:25 PM
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I would think the Bush Administration would unconditionally support Philbin as Director of Intellegence after this cute little stunt.
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Old 10-29-07, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by General Zod
And in even more fairness to FEMA they were asked to help right away unlike during Katrina where they were asked not to interfere for the first 72 hours.

Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, the Federal Government and FEMA are not allowed to interfere with local operations unless they are authorized by state and local leaders.

Blanco did not authorize this until September 1, 2005.

The storm hit on August 29th. Bush sent an order on August 27th to Brown to prepare for Katrina relief.

I've long said that the problem with the Katrina response was with the state government. What FEMA did here in California was great and it's what we can expect when they aren't handcuffed.
Do you really think FEMA was firing on all cylinders even after Governor Blanco called them in? There were plenty of screw-ups at the state and local level, but do you really think there weren't any screw-ups by FEMA?
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Old 10-29-07, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
The real 'tragedy' of this is yet another demonstration of just how incompetent the Bush administration is.

They can't get something simple like this right.

It's not FEMA that deserves the credit in CA. It's the good coordination between the state & local organs of the state that deserve credit.

No one is saying that FEMA can't do a good job. What people say is that the FEMA of this administration seems to be incapable of doing a good job.

Okay, but can we at least still blame them for Katrina? It won't make any logical sense, but still, it would be nice to blame them for the bad and claim they had no hand in the good.
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Old 10-29-07, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
The real 'tragedy' of this is yet another demonstration of just how incompetent the Bush administration is.

They can't get something simple like this right.

It's not FEMA that deserves the credit in CA. It's the good coordination between the state & local organs of the state that deserve credit.

No one is saying that FEMA can't do a good job. What people say is that the FEMA of this administration seems to be incapable of doing a good job.
I think it's a sign of current times. Wouldn't surprise me if the next administration fucks up something major as well. We just don't have a cohesive and communicating government. Regardless of the Bush Administration's failures.

We have to separate what the Bush Admin has failed at and what our society in general, is failing at. The two are closely related in symptoms but not the source.
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Old 10-29-07, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Do you really think FEMA was firing on all cylinders even after Governor Blanco called them in? There were plenty of screw-ups at the state and local level, but do you really think there weren't any screw-ups by FEMA?
In any major catastrophe, regardless of the planning, there will be screw-ups. FEMA was extremely handicapped by the fact that they had to stand by for 3 days before being moved in. By the time they did disorder had turned into anarchy and chaos. I'm sure the plans for going in and helping out after being forced to sit on the side lines and watching the situation deteriorate isn't exactly something that they thought they would need to implement. Could they have done a better job? Yes. Would they have done a better job with a different president in office? Doubtful.
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Old 10-29-07, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
I think it's a sign of current times. Wouldn't surprise me if the next administration fucks up something major as well. We just don't have a cohesive and communicating government. Regardless of the Bush Administration's failures.
There are breakdowns inherent in any human endeavor, that goes without saying. But I think Republicans suffer from a secondary problem: they genuinely believe government cannot solve problems. If you were a competent, capable individual, all else being equal, would you take a job with an institution that you think can't solve problems? Of course not. Now, all things are never equal, and I don't mean to suggest that no Republican is competent. But there's an inherent disconnect between serving as a government official and believing that government should be drowned in a bathtub.
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Old 10-30-07, 06:40 AM
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From what I can see FEMA worked reasonably well under Clinton.

Granted, there was not a Katrina type emergency during that period. But if you don't believe there was a monumental screw-up with FEMA during Katrina, well you better change your brand of kool aid.

JasonF is correct. Many Republicans belive that government can't solve problems. It's a carryover of 'let 'em pull themselves up by their own bootstraps' theory.
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Old 10-30-07, 10:45 AM
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After receiving the OK to go in; was the response to Katrina faster or slower than the equivalent response to Hurricane Andrew under Clinton?
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Old 10-30-07, 11:36 AM
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There wasn't thousands of unused travel trailers sitting in Eastern Oklahoma under Clinton.

Last edited by classicman2; 10-30-07 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 10-30-07, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Birrman54
After receiving the OK to go in; was the response to Katrina faster or slower than the equivalent response to Hurricane Andrew under Clinton?

Hurricane Andrew came under Daddy Bush's watch.
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Old 10-30-07, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
Hurricane Andrew came under Daddy Bush's watch.
wow, my mistake. My age is showing.
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Old 10-30-07, 12:45 PM
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In all fairness, I must commend George W. Bush's nomination (just occurred 15 minutes ago) to be the V.A. Secretary.

It's Lt. Gen (Dr.) James Peake (ret.). He's a combat veteran of Vietnam - received 2 purple hearts, and has done excellent work in veteran's health care in the past few years.

He's much improvement over the last secretary - a politcal hack.

note: I know this isn't the proper thread, but I didn't want to start a new one.
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Old 10-30-07, 01:56 PM
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The guy who thought of the fake briefing has a great future ahead of him...

...at the NY Times.
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Old 10-30-07, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
The guy who thought of the fake briefing has a great future ahead of him...

...at the NY Times.
or 60 Minutes, or NBC's Dateline,

or any other of the mainstream media with a long tradition of faking it.
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Old 10-30-07, 04:01 PM
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He really fit right in with the Bush Administration - deception.

He'd been promoted had the media not found him out.

It's typical of the Bush administration.
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