Heckuva Job Brownie testified to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this morning. Watch it here.
I posted this on digby's blog afterwards:
According to their lame-ass, overly complicated National Response Plan, what's supposed to happen is that someone gets named Principal Federal Officer on the scene- in this case, Brown. The PFO is supposed to drop whatever responsibilities he traditionally has (such as being head of FEMA) and take over being in charge of the response effort; he is to establish a command center, gather the requirements of local and state officials, and pass that information up the line to DHS through the Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC). HSOC then passes the information to Secretary Chertoff and coordinates the various federal agencies to respond to the requests.
Instead what happened is that Brown, never a big fan of the NRP in the first place, decided to try to handle everything himself and didn't establish a command center, didn't contact HSOC, and then discovered whenever he went to a federal agency to get some response that they were all waiting to hear from HSOC and didn't want to hear from him. HSOC tried to contact Brown after they started getting reports on Monday that flooding was occurring, but since there was no command center for them to contact and he was still trying to be head of FEMA they couldn't reach him. HSOC instead got some number two guy, who only knew FEMA procedure was to give two daily reports to DHS and refused to do anything else. Rather than try some other means to contact Brown or taking their own initiative to confirm the flooding and getting the response rolling themselves, HSOC decided to follow the plan and wait for Brown to contact them. Meanwhile, Brown contacted the White House several times telling them about the flooding and asking for help; but I bet the White House contacted Chertoff to get confirmation, Chertoff didn't know anything was wrong (since HSOC hadn't contacted him), so the White House decided not to bother the President. And so no one expected the levees to fail.
See the oh-so-simple National Response Plan here. Read the 114-page "base plan" for the highlights, or the 426-page "full version" if you're a policy wonk. Then come tell me how you expect a 426-page plan to work smoothly in a stressful and chaotic situation.