This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," September 9, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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JIM ANGLE, GUEST HOST: A major shakeup in the relief effort after harsh criticism of the federal role, some of it deserved, some of it misplaced. Major Garrett has been searching out the facts on this all week and joins me now.
Big developments today, Major. Now, the administration says that Homeland Secretary Chertoff (search) made this decision on his own, informed the president mid-week, informed those involved, including FEMA Director Brown, this morning, as well as Thad Allen, the man who’s taking his place.
But he seems to have anticipated this, Chertoff does, because he put Vice Admiral Thad Allen (search) in place on the day-to-day command, operational command of relief efforts, last Monday.
MAJOR GARRETT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: On Monday. And let’s understand what Thad Allen, who is the chief of staff for the Coast Guard, has been doing in overseeing.
Key numbers: 22,000 human beings rescued by the Coast Guard since Hurricane Katrina struck, 11,000 by air, 11,000 by boat. Another 9,400 patients safely removed from trapped hospitals and other places, all by the Coast Guard. That’s what he’s been up to. That’s why the president has confidence.
ANGLE: Now, he seems to be a no-nonsense sort of guy. During his news conference today, he was asked about whether or not they were going to go with one plan or another. Let’s listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICE ADM. THAD ALLEN, U.S. COAST GUARD: There’s no FEMA plan. There is no DOD plan. There is no PFO plan. There is one plan in how to respond to this emergency. That’s the reason you see both of us here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANGLE: He’s talking about Lieutenant General Honore, who we’ve seen all week.
He seems to be a no-nonsense sort of guy. He is a Coast Guard vice admiral and clearly someone who has a lot of experience in this sort of thing.
GARRETT: He was also in charge of the Atlantic division of the Coast Guard right after September 11th. So he has been in and around discussions, from the Coast Guard perspective, in dealing with homeland security issues, responding to catastrophes, both manmade and natural catastrophes.
That’s why he is where he is. And if he’s going to oversee all of the Katrina efforts, he’s got $50 billion in his pocket, courtesy of the United States government, which he’ll be distributing as needed to address all the various needs.
ANGLE: Now, they say FEMA Director Michael Brown (search) is going back to Washington to worry about future hurricanes.
GARRETT: For the time being.
ANGLE: For all of the other FEMA-related matters. He was blamed for almost everything that went wrong in this disaster, some of it his fault, perhaps, some of it, obviously, responsibilities that lay with the local and state government.
Nevertheless, even Republican lawmakers seem to have lost confidence in him.
GARRETT: Trent Lott (search) talked to me right after the announcement came of Michael Brown’s new career trajectory, let’s describe it. And he said, look, this is a welcome development. He described Michael Brown as a private when the nation needed a general, someone whose impulse in dealing with questions and requests from state and local governments was to say no first, until all of the boxes has been sufficiently checked, all of the legal items sufficiently inspected.
Trent Lott said what America needed and what Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana needed was someone to say, yes, move through the clutter. He didn’t think Michael Brown was capable of doing that.
ANGLE: Now, they say they’re sending him back to Washington to worry about hurricanes. That could be a way of finessing his eventually removal, as you suggested earlier.
On the other hand, aside from allegations of resume padding, he actually has some experience in handling hurricanes, and his record is reasonably positive there.
GARRETT: Here’s a factoid some of our audience may not know: Remember last year we had four ferocious hurricanes hit Florida and the surrounding states, Charley, the second most-costly hurricane in American history, Ivan the third, Francis the fourth, and Jeanne the sixth, all within six weeks, $45 billion worth of damage inflicted, 152 lives lost.
Michael Brown and FEMA was in charge with all of the operations and responses to that and came away pretty clean, except for one instance. After Hurricane Frances, the Senate found $31 million worth of fraud in Miami-Dade County. FEMA wrote checks for all sorts of compensation not deserved. Why? Miami-Dade County was barely touched by Francis.
ANGLE: Now, about 30 seconds left. Obviously, he got blamed for everything. And you heard people, the enduring images, people coming out of the projects, stranded on overpasses and at the Superdome. All of that was blamed on the federal government. You found this week that the federal government really didn’t have the authority to deal with those...
GARRETT: Evacuation plans are the chief responsibility of the local jurisdiction and the state jurisdiction. Louisiana had an evacuation plan. New Orleans had an evacuation plan. They didn’t follow it.
The American Red Cross (search) says it. The Salvation Army (search) says it. Anyone who saw what happened can see that. That’s the responsibility of the state and local governments. They didn’t carry it out. And FEMA was blamed for a lack of preparation, and planning, and execution at the state and local level, particularly in New Orleans.
ANGLE: Major Garrett, thanks very much. Great work this week.
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