Former FEMA director Michael Brown said that “every single layer of bureaucracy” at the federal, state, and local levels of government failed to sound the alarm about the Flint, Michigan water crisis.
“MSNBC Live” host Tamron Hall told Brown, who resigned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that the water contamination in Flint “sounds eerily familiar to what happened in New Orleans where you have the federal government blaming the state, the state blaming in many ways the federal government.”
“We know that you defended your actions during Hurricane Katrina, citing that it was the governor at the time, Kathleen Blanco, and mayor Ray Nagin who bore the brunt, the responsibility of making sure its citizens were safe,” Hall said. (RELATED: EPA Says It ‘Did Its Job’ Despite Not Telling Flint Its Water Was Contaminated)
“You cannot imagine how frustrating this story is to me because once again we’ve got this circular firing squad of people at every single level of government: federal, state and local, all pointing the fingers at each other,” Brown replied. (RELATED: EPA Knew About Michigan Water Contamination For Months Without Telling The Public)
“What you and I should do, and what I hope the media does is step back and look at this and realize that at some point, the local officials knew it, the state officials knew it, the federal officials knew it,” Brown continued. “And so it’s not a matter of pointing the blame at federal, state or local officials. It’s pointing the blame at all of them, because every single layer of bureaucracy failed to stand up and wave that red flag and say, ‘We have a serious problem here, and something needs to be done.'”
“Now whether that’s a whistle-blower, whether that’s somebody going to the media, you know off the record or whatever it is, somebody had to ring the bell and say, ‘There’s a problem.’ And what drives me up the wall is we’re never going to learn this lesson,” he argued.
“We’re never going to learn the lesson that the bureaucracy — and I’m not trying to pick on civil servants here because they’re just trying to do their job — but civil servants get boxed in by rules and regulations, and even though they may know something’s wrong, they’re afraid to step outside of that box and wave their hand and say, ‘Look, there’s a serious problem here. People are going to get hurt unless we do something,'” Brown insisted.
“So you know what? A pox on that system for failure to just stand up and say to you guys, whether it be any media outlet, ‘We’ve got a problem here and that media outlet not you know, screaming from the heavens, look: fix this!'”