Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.If you're pissed off about this, you should be. But you should also realize that this isn't just a Dubya issue.
FEMA's top three leaders -- Director Michael D. Brown, Chief of Staff Patrick J. Rhode and Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks D. Altshuler -- arrived with ties to President Bush's 2000 campaign or to the White House advance operation, according to the agency. Two other senior operational jobs are filled by a former Republican lieutenant governor of Nebraska and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official who was once a political operative.
Clinton, Bush I, Reagan and numerous presidents before them treated ambassadorships, top positions at FEMA and other agencies, and other government posts as theirs to parcel out to wealthy campaign hacks and contributors. Little or no thought was given to the notion that these positions required individuals with specific qualifications.