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Thursday
Jun022011

Michael Brown: Karl Rove ‘Micromanaged’ Katrina Response

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Former FEMA director Michael Brown is out with a new book that makes an explosive charge: that Bush White House political guru Karl Rove sought to “micromanage search and rescue efforts from afar” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Brown’s clear implication was that Rove was playing political favorites in the wake of the tragedy. Brown writes that “Karl Rove became interested in Louisiana for the very practical reason” that a once solidly Democratic state could be turned red.

On ABC’s Top Line webcast Thursday, Brown was asked if Rove sought to inject himself into response and recovery efforts after Katrina.

“Oh absolutely, and it’s amazing to me that -- that you guys shouldn't be surprised by that,” Brown told ABC News. “What was happening was -- it boils down to this: Everybody was trying to gain some sort of advantage during the storm.”

“And if you had a favorite parish, or you had somebody you were trying to help, Karl was stepping in and he was making phone calls back to my staff saying, ‘Why aren’t we doing something over here?’ or 'Let’s go do this over here,’ or ‘This person in this parish needs this.’ Totally irrespective of what the overall game plan was to respond to this disaster.”

Rove responded to Brown’s charge that he sought to “micromanage” the Katrina response with a terse statement to ABC News: “Any such suggestion is not accurate.”

Asked if Rove reached out directly to him, Brown said no, but he said Rove did contact members of his staff. Brown said he has emails that prove that, and promised to provide them to ABC News.

Brown -- made famous as “Brownie” by President George W. Bush, who praised him as doing a “heckuva job” in the aftermath of the devastating 2005 storm -- was pushed out of his position as FEMA director after a response that was widely criticized as disorganized and inadequate.

Brown’s book -- Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm -- gives his side of the well-documented events surrounding Katrina. And he argues that FEMA remains ill-equipped to respond to natural disasters.

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