19 September 2005

Clinton: FEMA chief should be experienced

Clinton: FEMA chief should be experienced

"When a disaster strikes, that person becomes the most important person in the federal government," Clinton said on CNN's Larry King Live.

"I think the most important thing is you probably should have a requirement that anybody who has the job has prior experience in emergency management," Clinton told King. "It's a very serious, important job."

He noted that his FEMA chief, James Lee Witt, had decades of experience and had headed up emergency management in Arkansas. "I made it a Cabinet-level agency, and when a disaster struck, everybody in the government worked for that person." Clinton also said FEMA functioned better when it was an independent agency.

Clinton said he has been impressed with the way Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen has taken over the leadership role in the disaster areas. Allen replaced Brown to head up FEMA's operations.

"We've finally got everybody on the same page now. It looks like we've got everybody working together, and we've got a huge job to do," Clinton said. "We just all need to be rowing in the same boat, trying to get people's lives back together and get plans in place to rebuild the area, particularly in New Orleans."

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