Hurricane Katrina fallout: The embattled head leaves his post on Monday

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated September 12, 2005 03:15 PM
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Michael D. Brown, the embattled director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, resigned from the post on Monday.

Brown has been at the center of the fallout from Hurricane Katrina – specifically, the charges that the government was slow to respond and made empty promises to victims. The controversy was further aggravated last week when questions arose as to the honesty of his claims about his professional background.

On Friday, Brown was relieved of his duties overseeing the federal government’s response in the Katrina disaster zone and sent back to Washington, though his assignment in the nation’s capital was unspecified. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen replaced Brown in overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.

In making the official announcement, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said: “Mike Brown has done everything he possibly could to coordinate the federal response to this unprecedented challenge.”

Meanwhile, David Paulison, a 30-year veteran of fire rescue work, has been named acting director of FEMA.

Touring Gulfport, Miss., on Monday afternoon, President Bush declined during a brief chat with reporters to comment on Brown’s resignation.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the White House did not ask Brown to step down, according to the Associated Press.

“This was Mike Brown’s decision and we respect his decision,” McClellan said. “The president appreciates Mike Brown’s service.”

On Thursday, Time magazine raised questions about whether Brown padded his resume to highlight his previous emergency management background. When asked at a news conference last week about the accusations, Chertoff dismissed the question.

In a statement released Monday, Brown said the decision to resign was his. “I think it’s in the best interest of the agency and the best interest of the president to do that and get the media focused on the good things that are going on, instead of me,” he said.