Friday, October 21, 2005

What's Happened to Scotty?

No press briefing texts for the past two days, I suffer from withdrawl. Has Scotty be dethroned as the W, Rove and Co. spokesmodel? Anyone seen him lately?

Looks like Fran Townsend filled in for some updates on the forthcoming huricane aimed at florida. Does anyone in Florida or the Gulf Coast Area feel safer given her talking points?
Q Fran, in the other part of his testimony, he said that there was a systemic failure at all levels of government. In what you've looked at so far, what you've heard from people so far, do you think that reaches to the White House and to the President?

MS. TOWNSEND: The answer is a bad information flow at all levels will result in less than good, solid decision-making [bold and italics added]. And I think it's too early for me to say, because I don't have a comprehensive chronology yet. We're building that and it's getting stronger every day. I want to see that. But the President has made perfectly clear, if there are mistakes, wherever they are and wherever the problems are, we're to identify them, regardless of where that leads us. And we will go wherever the facts lead us.

Q Just one follow-up, if you don't mind. You talked about not wanting to finger-point. But you have to point fingers at someone and some things and some -- in order to fix things. So why the disconnect?

MS. TOWNSEND: I don't think there is a disconnect. Here's how I -- I'm not suggesting -- you will find -- I'm reading lessons learned in other context to understand how people did it, and I've talked to the United States military, which is the agency of government that's got the most experience right now with lessons learned. The answer is, we will -- you do need a narrative of facts to emphasize particular points and particular weaknesses. And to that extent -- I didn't mean to suggest -- there will be facts we need to use and to point to, to explain what the problem is, and how a particular recommendation solves that problem. So I'm not -- I'm gathering facts because I need them to make -- it really underscores your point -- but what I'm saying to you is, I'm not going to -- I refuse to be dragged down into a blame game and a finger-pointing exercise. That's not my role. And frankly, what I need to be able to do is to identify the systemic and process and procedural problems that resulted in the failures.

Q Fran, you talked about lessons learned. You've got another hurricane right now hovering down around Yucatan, which will probably end up making a beeline for Florida. What are some of the lessons learned thus far that might have to be applied and might be very applicable to the hurricane when it hits Florida? How is FEMA going to handle that?

MS. TOWNSEND: Well, for the specific details of this, I would refer you to DHS. But let me talk a little bit about some examples of things we understand. We are deploying more communications gear, both through FEMA and DOD, down into the affected areas. We have NORTHCOM planners now stationed at FEMA Headquarters here in Washington, D.C. that we didn't have the last time, to make sure that the connection between the military and civilian authority, federal authority in this country is closer. We have -- we've got people downrange in Florida working with state and local officials who I would emphasize are in the lead. We are there in support. The Governor has made clear what assistance he needs or does not need, and so, based on Governor Bush's requirements, we are positioned to meet them more effectively and efficiently, based on what we did the last time.

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