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Fox's Napolitano defends pal Chertoff

Reported by Chrish - September 6, 2005

Regular Judicial Analyst and sometimes guest host Judge Andrew Napolitano spoke with John Gibson on The Big Story today 9/06/05 about firing Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Napolitano defended his friend and concluded that someone should be fired but it shouldn't be Chertoff.

It was acknowledged from the start that the two go back many years. Napolitano called Chertoff "an administrator...a strong-willed, take charge, no nonsense guy", and said he would liken his skills and personality to that of Rudy Giuliani.

Napolitano further stated "it occurs to me that his own interests were probably in protecting us from terrorism and this thing sort of creeped up on him. Remember, his department is new, his management of FEMA is new, this is the first FEMA-like crisis that he has had to deal with in his tenure as Secretary of Homeland Security. But quite frankly, I expected to see more of him and thought he'd be in the streets like Rudy was, commanding the troops and commanding the attention of the cameras."

Comment: And perhaps if Chertoff had commanded the attention of the cameras all we would have seen was select clips replayed over and over as background to endless press conferences, so we couldn't really see for ourselves what a flippin' disaster the whole thing was/is.

Asked by Gibson if FEMA should be divorced from DHS so that people affected by natural disasters don't have to wait for an OK from the Homeland Security Chief, Napolitano reiterated Gibson's talking point from an earlier conversation with Shepard Smith that "the relief should come from the sources... closest to the crisis."

His next sentence shocked me because I usually think he is a reasonable man: "I
don't think you can expect the head of Homeland Security to be familiar with the strength of the levees on Canal Street. That should be known to the mayor and known to the governor."

Comment: Seeing as how the flooding of the section of Homeland known as New Orleans was one of the top three most likely foreseeable catastrophic events in this country, WHO if not Chertoff should have been familiar at the federal level?

Then he repeated a lie to divert blame from his friend onto the Louisiana governor: "Here you have a problem with the governor taking 24 hours to decide whether or not she even wanted the feds in the state, much less the city. And in that 24 hour period, the levees broke."

Governor Blanco asked for federal help in a letter to Bush on August 27th. The levees broke late Monday, August 29th.

Gibson cited stories of FEMA comandeering gasoline from privately owned helicopters, cutting off emergency communications for the sheriff's department, and doing things counter-productive to the relief and rescue efforts. How does Napolitano reconcile these reports with Chertoff's no-nonsense, take-charge reputation? The judge, like Gibson, says he doesn't understand. They ascertain how the two know each other, (they worked in the judicial system at the same time and later had a private practice together), and Napolitano says Chertoff is a brilliant, strong-willed, take charge guy.

He goes on "How these things happen, how FEMA turned back supplies, and turned back buses, and turned back fuel, and allowed supplies to stay 30 miles out of the city, ...the parade of horribles that Shepard was just describing is beyond me, out of character for Secretary Chertoff." Gibson asked point blank "Is he going to be fired?" and Napolitano didn't hesitate to say "No. I think somebody else will take the heat."

Gibson "Should he be fired?"

Napolitano "I don't know enough about this."

Gibson "C'mon Judge, he's your friend, but (talk to us) (?)."

Napolitano "No. He's my friend, I don't think he should be, but somebody will be."

Comment: So the spin continues, using friends of the official to plead the case that he shouldn't be fired, when all objective evidence points the other way.

What does it take to get fired in this administration?

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