January 26, 2006 – The Bush administration is refusing to allow key officials to testify in the Senate investigation over the government’s response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
Federal officials appearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee are claiming they were instructed by the White House not to answer questions about their hurricane-related communications with the administration, according to Democratic and Republican senators leading the probe.
Among the witnesses refusing to answer the committee’s questions is former Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Director Mike “Heck of a Job” Brown, who resigned in disgrace following the failure of storm levees and worldwide criticism over inaction by his agency.
“Mike Brown, the former FEMA director who resigned amid intense criticism of his agency’s response, has refused to answer even the simplest questions,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), top Democrat on the committee investigating the disaster.
Yet Brown continues to draw his full $148,000 salary, “pulling all the documentation together” to aid in Katrina-related investigations, according to a FEMA spokesperson.
The Senate committee also released Department of Homeland Security documents showing that top federal officials warned the White House hours before Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast that the storm would likely cause breaches in the protective levees around New Orleans.