Vol. 3, Issue 20, September 13, 2005
Unaired CNN Interview With Michael Brown Reveals Who's On First
The following interview of former FEMA director Michael Brown was conducted by CNN anchor Paula Zahn just hours prior to his resignation.
ZAHN: "Mister Brown, the nation has many questions as to why FEMA's response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster has been so slow and disorganized."
BROWN: "Well, Paula, the problem was one of communication. I told Louisiana officials WHO's coming first.
ZAHN: "That's what we want to find out."
BROWN: "I said WHO was coming first to provide assistance."
ZAHN: "Aren't you the director of FEMA?"
ZAHN: "You're directing the Hurricane Katrina relief operation too?"
ZAHN: "And you didn't know what resources were coming when to help Louisiana?"
BROWN: "Well, I should."
ZAHN: "Well then who was scheduled to come first, sir?"
ZAHN: "I mean the name of the relief organization."
ZAHN: "The organization which was bringing supplies and evacuating people..."
BROWN: "WHO was supposed to do that!"
ZAHN: "I'm asking you who was supposed to do that."
BROWN: "That's the organization's name."
ZAHN: "That's who's name?"
ZAHN: "Well, go ahead and tell us."
BROWN: "That's it, Paula."
ZAHN: "That's who?"
ZAHN: "Look, Mr. Brown, you had an organization scheduled to assist Louisiana first?"
BROWN: "That's right."
ZAHN: "When you start disbursing the federal funding earmarked for the relief efforts, who will get the money?"
BROWN: "That's it."
ZAHN: "Who gets the money..."
BROWN: "They do, every dollar. We just hope they are using it efficiently, since as you know the United Nations doesn't have a good track record in this regard."
ZAHN: "Wait a minute: you're talking about the World Health Organization? Are you telling me that federal assistance was delayed for four days because you were waiting for WHO to take action? Aren't you aware, Mr. Brown, that WHO is not a disaster relief organization?"
BROWN: "Now, Paula, it is true that things did not work out as planned, but I have had extensive experience working with WHO in my capacity as assistant city manager at Edmond..."
ZAHN: "Mr. Brown, didn't the city of Edmond recently reveal that you were actually assistant to the city manager, not assistant city manager? How would a file clerk with no supervisory responsibilities obtain extensive working experience with a United Nations agency?"
BROWN: "Paula, I think we need to start over and just state that mistakes were made."
ZAHN: "Mr. Brown, that is the one thing upon which nearly everyone can agree."