In its handling of the missing Katrina tape, the one where Bush reacts like a deer in the headlights to the alerts of catastrophic damage, the media has once again proven itself to be incompetent and shallow. There was barely a mention in the traditional media about how the Bush administration represented to Congress that the tape did not exist. Rather, when this previously-non-existent tape magically appeared, the media called it an "embarrassment" for the President rather than evidence of a cover-up. Despite six months of evidence all pointing to the a gross failure of governmental responsibility on the federal level, the media still plays the "finger-pointing" talking point while refusing to acknowledge that Bush and his appointees failed the American people.
Yesterday, buried in the fifth paragraph of the Washington Post (and getting just a few more lines of coverage in this CNN article) is the fact that the Operations Director for the Department of Homeland Security has resigned. General Matthew Broderick submitted his resignation to Chertoff yesterday, giving the boilerplate explanation of spending more time his family. In his testimony during the Katrina hearings, Broderick was quite critical of Brown and followed DHS lead in blaming him for the faulty federal response.
So both Brown and Broderick are gone, but what of Chertoff? What of the man who chose to go to a bird flu conference instead of asserting a leadership position? Today, Michael Brown called for his firing
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff should be fired for his handling of Hurricane Katrina, former federal emergency management chief Michael Brown said Thursday, accusing Chertoff of lacking disaster management knowledge. [...]
"It appears to me that, you know, when Chertoff does things like tells me that I've got to go to Baton Rouge and plop my butt down on a seat in Baton Rouge and run a disaster from there, I think that shows naivete about how disasters are run," Brown told CNN. "And you've either have to get with it, or move on."
Asked whether Chertoff should be dismissed, Brown said, "Well, I think so." He said FEMA had been "marginalized" by Chertoff and his predecessor, Tom Ridge, and that he had expected the agency's performance to suffer.
"I had been screaming internally that the budget cuts, the personnel cuts and what they were doing within Homeland Security was in effect marginalizing FEMA, and I predicted that at some point -- in a very specific memo to both Tom Ridge and to Chertoff -- that at some point, FEMA would fail," Brown said. "I just didn't expect to be in the middle of the failure."
About two weeks ago, Tim Russert asked Chertoff whether he would resign, considering the House report concluded he completed his duties "late, ineffectively, or not at all." Chertoff dodged the question, saying he "serves at the pleasure of the President."
State and local officials like Nagin and Blanco will be held accountable for their performance; they serve at the pleasure of the voters, and if the voters believe that they did not perform their duties, they will vote accordingly. But what of political appointees, who after having performed miserably during a crisis, will remain in their office and be held accountable to no one for their actions? If another disaster occurs, the same incompetence that fatally revealed itself with Katrina will still reign at DHS because the President is too arrogant to do what America wants him to do: fire Michael Chertoff.
Update: Sign the DCCC petition to fire Chertoff here.