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Brown: 'I know what I am doing'

Michael Brown defends FEMA's hurricane response and his background before a House panel.


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Emergency Incidents
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(CNN) -- In his opening remarks before a congressional committee Tuesday, Former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown defended his response to Hurricane Katrina last month, as well as his own record.

"I have overseen over 150 presidentially declared disasters. I know what I am doing. And I think I do a pretty darn good job of it," Brown told the panel.

His appointment as FEMA director has raised claims of cronyism in the Bush Administration. (Full story)

Brown, who resigned on Sept. 12 amid mounting criticism over the agency's handling of the Katrina crisis, told congressional investigators that he remains on FEMA's payroll. He is being paid $148,000 as a consultant to help FEMA assess what went wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. (Watch Brown still on the FEMA payroll -- 3:20)

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA's parent agency, said last week that Brown would be paid for about a month for "transitional purposes."

Brown came to work for FEMA in 2001 as legal counsel to his friend, then-FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, who was Bush's 2000 campaign manager. When Allbaugh left FEMA in 2003 Brown assumed the top job: Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Before joining the Bush administration, Brown spent a decade as the stewards and judges commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month FEMA's top three officials had ties to Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign. Five of eight top FEMA officials had no crisis management experience, the newspaper said.

Both Brown and his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, have legal backgrounds and scant emergency management experience.

In his remarks before the congressional panel Tuesday, Brown accused the media and Web logs, or blogs, of spreading "false statements" about his background, qualifications and experience. (Full story about Brown's testimony)

He said that alleged inconsistencies in his resume and claims of his lack of emergency management experience were not only untrue but, in some cases, defamatory.

He defended his work in Oklahoma as an assistant to the city manager and liaison to the emergency services division.

"You see, I get it when it comes to incident command systems," Brown insisted. "I get it when it comes to emergency management. I know what it's all about."

He also defended his work as an adjunct professor at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Earlier this month, TIME magazine reported that its investigation into Brown's resume and official biographies revealed discrepancies. The report found his online legal profile listed him as a political science professor there; members of the faculty say Brown was not among them. (Full story)

CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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