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Saturday, September 10, 2005

The memo 
Much has been written about a memo Brown wrote to the Department of Homeland Security, in which he was criticized for not taking a sufficiently alarmist tone, and in which he was criticized for not requesting support from the DHS until 5 hours after the storm made landfall in Louisiana.

Horsehockey.

Stuff moves on verbal orders all the time. And during an emergency, my own unit routinely rolls trucks based on what we hear on a conference call. If we need information, we'll ask it during a conference call, or plot it out on a dry erase board somewhere. We don't wait for a memo.

But we frequently write memos hours or days after they are actually requested, in order to come up with a record and a paper trail - especially if money is to change hands somewhere.

I've done it many times. The FEMA director's job is to make sound and timely decisions. Not sit and write memos. In a crisis, we run on verbal orders and good faith.

I wouldn't read much into that memo. I'd look instead at when people actually reported in and began loading supplies in trucks. Back off 12-24 hours from that point, and that will tell you when the request actually went forward.

Splash, out

Jason

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