As you all know, DNI doesn’t endorse candidates for political office.  A friend of mine, though, asked if I’d publish his broadsheet campaigning to have the Obama administration appoint retired US Army General Russ Honoré to head the Federal Emergency Management Administration.  I think it’s a great idea, and since one doesn’t run for FEMA head, it doesn’t violate our no-political-endorsement policy.

So here it is:


The period of transition from Bush to Obama Administration invigorated the debate about the future of FEMA, and arguments whether it should remain a part of DHS or be reconstituted as a cabinet level agency become increasingly vigorous. What is NOT debated is who should head the Agency, be it under the existing umbrella of DHS or as an independent organization.  Yet, this is a critical decision: the appointee may have direct influence on the fate of millions of people affected by disasters that will surely and inevitably come.

Prior experience has clearly indicated that FEMA’s administrator must have a broad experience in directing an exceedingly complex entity whose actions transit from steady bureaucratic pace to stemming the chaos and unpredictability of a natural disasters, then solving the immense complexity of human and administrative process of recovery and rebuilding. It has to be a person with exquisite command and leadership skills that can be gained and honed only through the practical experience of a most senior military command. A person capable of vision unclouded by the demands of the administrative “process,” and one who can make instantaneous decisions that are right rather than bureaucratically or politically correct. A person of proven courage and integrity, able to lead as much from the front as from the D.C office. A paragon.

Can such be found?

Yes! General Russell Honoré, the man to whom New Orleans owes its survival, the man who at the time of utter chaos and disorganization brought order to the city teetering on the brink of collapse, and the man who subsequently devoted his time and energy to spreading the mantra of preparedness as the key to response and recovery. Russ Honoré, one of the very few individuals surrounded by open and the universal respect and admiration of professionals and citizens alike, the man who showed “it can be done” providing one has the necessary attributes and stamina.

We do not need to debate who should lead FEMA after the 20th of January 2009. We have the man, the only person who has enough authority, command skill, talent and understanding of what is necessary to prevent the limping agency from a total disintegration right before the next hurricane season. General Honoré is that man, but in the world where political debts are often paid with positions within the new government, his appointment depends as much on the new President as on us, the citizens. OUR lives may one day depend on the efficiency of FEMA, and that efficiency in a very large measure depends on the man who leads the Agency.

This is the only appointment which should not be left in the hands of the forthcoming Administration alone, but that should be decided by those whom the appointee will really serve: ourselves. It is the man whose actions will be critical to the citizens of the Gulf states and the states along the East Coast, to California, and the flood plains of Mississippi. And we, the citizens must, more than ever, exercise our influence on that selection. The time is short. The new administration takes over on the 20th of January 2009, and the forthcoming Secretary of DHS, Governor Napolitano will surely want to have the position occupied as soon as absolutely possible. Hence, a massive grass root effort is necessary to generate enough vox populi on the subject of appointing General Honoré to make it heard as vox dei.

I am sure, nobody will argue with the choice: Russ Honoré has enough authority to outweigh any criticism be it from professional or political circles – I am yet to see a congressman who’d dare question the general about his ability to lead or know what FEMA is and should be about (for more about the General go to http://www.honoreforfema.com. Thus make your voice be heard: write to your congressman or congresswoman, send a message to Mr. Obama at www.change.gov, write to your local newspaper or TV station. Act and be an agent of change of which we have heard so much, and for which all of us have voted. For once, it is our unique chance to force selection to one of the most important posts in the nation of a man most of that nation knows and trusts, a man who proved himself, and who showed us all that, indeed, “it can be done,” and that we can start trusting FEMA again.

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