WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In sometimes heated testimony before a congressional committee Tuesday, former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown blamed Louisiana's leaders for dragging their heels last month as Hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf Coast.
Brown faced sharp questions during a House select committee probing the federal, state and local response to Katrina. The storm devastated Mississippi coastal towns and left most of New Orleans flooded when the city's protective levees failed at several points.
Brown said Mississippi and Alabama had evacuated properly but that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco were reluctant to order an evacuation. (Watch Congressmen grill Brown -- 4:40)
"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday [August 27] that Louisiana was dysfunctional," he said in his opening testimony.
Later, he testified, "My mistake was in recognizing that, for whatever reasons, ... Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco were reticent to order a mandatory evacuation."
Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation on August 28, a day before the storm made landfall.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday about Brown's comments, Nagin said the former FEMA chief was trying to deflect attention.
"I don't know what he's referring to," Nagin said, adding that "obviously, Mr. Brown is maybe under a lot of pressure. I feel sorry for him."
Brown resigned on September 12 as Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response after two weeks of intense criticism of FEMA's response to Katrina and questions about his qualifications to lead the agency.
In a heated exchange, Rep. Christopher Shays questioned whether Brown did enough to coordinate the response.
"What would you like for me to do, congressman?" Brown asked the Connecticut Republican.
"That's why I'm happy you left," Shays said, "because that kind of, you know, look in the lights like a deer, tells me that you weren't capable to do the job."
Brown said he wasn't a dictator and couldn't make state or local officials do anything.
"I guess you want me to be the superhero that is going to step in there and suddenly take everybody out of New Orleans," he said.
"No, what I wanted you to do was do your job of coordinating," Shays responded.
Pelosi blasts 'whitewash'
Democrats have refused to appoint members to the committee in protest and continue to call for an independent investigation.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California on Tuesday referred to the proceedings as "a whitewash committee hearing."
The committee invited four Democrats to sit in on the hearings, and three accepted: Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana, Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi and Rep. Charlie Melancon of Louisiana.
Jefferson and Taylor were present; Melancon's staff said he would be there after a tour of the hurricane damage.
The Democratic congressmen will not have any voting privileges and are not present in an official capacity.
Brown is still being paid as a consultant to help FEMA assess what went wrong.
He's being paid to figure out he fucked up, lied on his resume and never had any training or background on disaster prepardness or delaing with such disasters? The entire committee is being dealt with and only voting rights to the GOP? Fuck our government is stupid.
*EDIT: added url to original article, please try to give credit to the author by providing a link. Thanks, -KXRM*