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FEMA Director Under Fire?

Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Friday, September 2, 2005

FEMA Director Under Fire?

(CNSNews.com) - President Bush, arms folded, did not meet the eyes of FEMA Director Michael Brown as Brown briefed him at a hangar in Mobile, Ala., on Friday.

A grim, unsmiling Bush watched Brown, standing next to him, point out the extent of the damage on a large map as governors and other relief officials looked on.

Earlier on Friday, Bush described the response to the hurricane as "not acceptable," and he looked annoyed --or maybe just concerned -- as Brown spoke at Friday's initial briefing in Mobile, Ala.

In his remarks after the briefing, President Bush thanked the Coast Guard and the governors of the affected states, but it took him a while to get around to mentioning FEMA Director Michael Brown.

"The federal government's job is big and it's massive, and we're going to do it, "President Bush said. "Where it's not working right, we're going to make it right. Where it is working right, we're going to duplicate it elsewhere."

President Bush said the federal government has the responsibility to save lives - "and that's the primary focus right now." He said the federal government also has the responsibility to "clean up this mess."

He called the $10.5 billion emergency funding Congress is in the process of approving as "just the beginning - a small down payment for the cost of this effort."

"We are going to restore order in the city of New Orleans," President Bush said. (Shortly after he spoke, Fox News reported more gunshots -- and men driving around in pickup trucks with gun barrels sticking out the window -- and new fires breaking out in downtown buildings.)

"Out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before," President Bush said. He noted that Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) lost his house to the hurricane.

Toward the end of his comments in Mobile, President Bush added -- almost as an afterthought -- "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," noting that FEMA Director Brown is "working hard."

"Again, if it's not going exactly right, we're going to make it go exactly right," Bush said. "If there's problems, we're going to address the problems. And that's what I've come down to assure people of."