Ex-FEMA Head Brown: Obama Should Avoid 'Katrina Moment'

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 05:55 PM

By Greg Richter

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President Barack Obama is facing a barrage of criticism from the left and the right for not visiting the Mexican border where tens of thousands of children are flooding the immigration system.

Obama was in Texas for three days this week raising funds from rich Democrats as what has been described as a "humanitarian crisis" was happening a few hundred miles away. Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar of the border city of Laredo has warned Obama he may be facing a "Katrina moment" by not getting a first-hand look at the situation.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, agreed with the characterization, and refused to greet Obama at the Dallas airport until Obama agreed to discuss the problem with him.

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown agrees.

"The analogy fits because during Katrina you had a focal point," Brown said Thursday on Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."  "You had the New Orleans Superdome. And that focal point allowed the media to really focus on what was going on in that natural disaster."

The border issue lacks that focal point, Brown said, because while cameras were able to show the suffering in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the government isn't allowing press or members of Congress to take pictures of the thousands of children being held in facilities with some who are said to be carrying diseases.

"So the American public doesn't get that this humanitarian crisis is as bad as the natural disaster in Katrina," Brown said.

Brown's name became synonymous with the Katrina disaster when President George W. Bush told him in the early days after Katrina hit, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." Brown ended up resigning over the poor handling of the situation, with thousands of people trapped inside a flooded New Orleans.

But Brown told Cavuto that he had actually advised Bush to get off the plane in Baton Rouge and make a statement rather than just fly over the devastation and view it from above.

"He could not land at New Orleans International Airport because we had converted that to a hospital," Brown said, so he told Bush, "I need you to land at Baton Rouge and just walk down the steps, walk to the podium. Let the public know that you are engaged. Let the Cabinet know that you're engaged. And that this is an important deal."

Obama needs to do the same thing on the border, Brown said. "He needs to send the signal to the public that I am engaged, here is what's going on."

But Bush didn't heed that advice and was roundly criticized for being out of touch.

"He stayed on Air Force One, looked out the window, dipped the wing down and looked at New Orleans, and he was lambasted for it," Brown said.

Brown said that if Obama continues to avoid the border crisis, the information that is currently dribbling out will eventually explode and the public will see the hundreds of thousands of children suffering as well as the gang members and the drug cartels who have been paid by desperate families to bring them across the border.

"Then the White House is going to find itself behind the 8-ball trying to catch up," Brown said.

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