Chertoff “may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department.”

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“Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast,” they report, “Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials.” Brown, they add, had only limited authority to do so until about 36 hours after the storm hit, when Chertoff designated him as the 'principal federal official' in charge of the storm.

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