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White House Stands By Chertoff

President Bush has full confidence in Michael Chertoff and has not considered asking the homeland security secretary to step down after criticism of his performance on Hurricane Katrina, the White House said Tuesday.

"Secretary Chertoff is doing a great job," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, answering a reporter's question about Chertoff. "The president appreciates his strong leadership. He is someone who is committed to doing everything he can to protect the American people and to continuing to take steps to make sure we are better prepared to respond to the threats that we face."

A Republican-written House report blamed government-wide ineptitude for mishandling Katrina relief. A report by Congress' investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, reached similar conclusions and singled out Chertoff for delays.

Former FEMA chief Michael Brown told a Senate panel last week that he dealt directly with the White House in Katrina's aftermath rather than with what he described as a bumbling Homeland Security bureaucracy. Brown said the agency under Chertoff's leadership was preoccupied with terror threats at the expense of preparing for natural disasters.

Days after Katrina struck, Brown quit FEMA under fire.

The Bush administration has been pushing back aggressively against the criticism from Brown and congressional investigators.

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