I ran across this story. It brought back memories of Frances Townsend, President Bush's Homeland Security Adviser. Fran now works for Baker Botts as head of corporate risk management consulting.
Let me set the stage. It's mid September 2005 and Hurricane Rita is boiling in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast three weeks earlier. President Bush still looks like a deer in headlights. Fran returned from delivering a letter to the Saudis on the unprecedented disaster and got the Katrina investigation assignment. GQ reported:
(Frances) Townsend had received a promotion—to assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism—yet was still unable to command Rumsfeld’s respect. In the midst of Hurricane Rita, Townsend learned that Texas governor Rick Perry had signaled his willingness to cede control of the National Guard to the federal government. She called Rumsfeld’s aide and was told, “The secretary and Mrs. Rumsfeld are at an event.”
Townsend knew that. The event was an ambassadors’ ball; she was supposed to be there but was instead dealing with the crisis. “Put me in to his detail,” she ordered.
A minute later, Townsend was on the phone with Rumsfeld’s security agent, who then spoke to the SecDef. “The secretary will talk to you after the event,” she was told.
Later in the evening, her phone rang. It was Chief of Staff Andy Card. “Rumsfeld just called,” said Card. “What is it you need?”
Livid, Townsend said, “I want to know if the president knows what a fucking asshole Don Rumsfeld is.”
What forking arsehole writes an investigative report omitting the hospital with the highest patient death toll after Hurricane Katrina? Frances Townsend
What forking arseholes hide their e-mails on Katrina from Congress? Frances Townsend & Andy Card
What forking arses can't respond competently to a natural disaster or conduct a basic investigation? The Bush team.
Two days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans—and the same day that Bush viewed the damage on a flyover from his Crawford, Texas, retreat back to Washington—a White House advance team toured the devastation in an Air Force helicopter. Noticing that their chopper was outfitted with a search-and-rescue lift, one of the advance men said to the pilot, “We’re not taking you away from grabbing people off of rooftops, are we?”
“No, sir,” said the pilot. He explained that he was from Florida’s Hurlburt Field Air Force base—roughly 200 miles from New Orleans—which contained an entire fleet of search-and-rescue helicopters. “I’m just here because you’re here,” the pilot added. “My whole unit’s sitting back at Hurlburt, wondering why we’re not being used.”
The search-and-rescue helicopters were not being used because Donald Rumsfeld had not yet approved their deployment—even though, as Lieutenant General Russ Honoré, the cigar-chomping commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, would later tell me, “that Wednesday, we needed to evacuate people. The few helicopters we had in there were busy, and we were trying to deploy more.”
Only when Bush ordered, “Don, do it,” did he acquiesce and send in the troops—a full five days after landfall.
Despite her prior incompetence and intransigence, Frances Townsend now advises companies on government investigations. Did she cover for the right folks in just the right way as Bush's Homeland Security Adviser?