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Former US Emergency Director Defends Hurricane Response

The former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, has strongly defended his role in leading the initial U.S. response to Hurricane Katrina.

Before a House committee Tuesday, Mr. Brown said he made "specific mistakes," but put much of the blame for the widely criticized response to the disaster on state and local authorities. He said he was not able to persuade Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to work together, and called the state "dysfunctional."

Some 1,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in five states along the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Brown resigned amid a political storm.

Democrats are largely boycotting the investigation into the disaster by the Republican-led Congress, calling instead for an independent commission.

President Bush is visiting Texas and Louisiana Tuesday to survey the damage from Hurricane Rita, a second major storm that hit the region Saturday, causing widespread flooding and damage in rural areas.