Disturbing e-mails from FEMA chief released

Louisiana Congressman Charlie Melancon posted to his Web site unflattering e-mails written by former FEMA Director Michael Brown.

The e-mails show that, while the Gulf region of the United States was reeling in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Brown exchanged e-mails with several of his coworkers about other pressing issues-namely, fashion. On the day the hurricane hit, FEMA's deputy director of public affairs, Cindy Taylor, wrote to Brown that he looked "fabulous." Brown replied, "I got it at Nordstroms...Are you proud of me?" The exchange is just one of a handful on the topic of men's shirtwear in the days surrounding the catastrophic storm. In another e-mail shortly after, Brown proclaimed himself a "fashion god".

But even more unnerving are the e-mails related to the relief effort itself. A message sent to Brown on Sept. 2 offering help with patients on ventilators went unanswered until Brown forwarded the original message on to someone else four days later.

The e-mails (see PDF) are part of over 1,000 messages handed over to a House committee that is investigating the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. And they are just the latest reminder that e-mails-especially those written at work-can come back to haunt you, even if you are a fashion god.

Melancon's Web site was down for repairs at the time this blog was published.

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About the author

Jennifer Guevin is managing editor at CNET, overseeing the ever-helpful How To section, special packages, and front-page programming. As a writer, she gravitates toward science, quirky geek culture stories, robots, and food. In real life, she mostly just gravitates toward food.

 

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