Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Open Sourcing Unscathed Fran

White House Homeland Security Adviser resigned earlier this year with no blemishes, at least according to the New York Times. Since then, she commented on intelligence improvements that allow agents to submit information in an open source format. While not on the government payroll, I offer this intelligence, garnered from public sources:

1) Fran was among the legion of White House senior staffers on vacation as Hurricane Katrina approached New Orleans. The storm struck Monday morning.

2) The first sign of Fran came two days later. Early Wednesday morning, Governor Blanco tried to call Bush. She was transferred around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with Fran Townsend, the president's Homeland Security adviser, who tried to reassure her but did not have many specifics. (Note: Fran had served as Chair of the Homeland Security Council for one year and three months when the storm struck.)

3) On Friday, four days after landfall, the denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One. Mayor Nagin, Governor Blanco, and Rep. Jindal gave the President their concerns in the starkest terms. Bush was not pleased.

4) Where's Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend? The LA Times reported:

After Katrina struck, she attended several meetings in Washington, then left on a previously scheduled trip for Saudi Arabia to work on joint counterterrorism projects. Bush urged Townsend to make the trip despite the crisis at home as a "signal to … the enemy" that the hurricane had not distracted his attention from terrorists, one aide said.

She jumped on a plane to Saudi Arabia. While the last patients were evacuated from dead New Orleans hospitals, Fran likely was in the air herself, on the way to deliver a letter on Katrina to King Abdullah. The flight from Washington, D.C. to Riyadh takes approximately 14 hours. Riyadh is 7 hours ahead of our nation's capital. That means Fran had to leave at least a day early to arrive jet lagged on September 5th, the day she delivered the letter.

Ironically, the Saudi's fought a local terror cell while Fran visited. This is from a September 6th news report:

The violence in Dammam flared as U.S. Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend met King Abdullah and other top Saudi officials Monday in Riyadh. The deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command, Air Force Lt. Gen. Lance Smith, also met the Saudi deputy defense minister, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan.

5) After her return Mrs. Townsend was charged with doing a "robust" investigation. It ended up without the "ro". Fran's tome failed to mention Memorial Hospital patients who stewed in toxic gumbo for four days. The owner of LifeCare Hospitals, the facility with the largest patient death toll, warranted not one mention in her investigative report. Weeks before landfall, The Carlyle Group closed on its purchase of LifeCare. The private equity underwriter (PEU) must be grateful to Fran for her omission as they enter wrongful death, civil lawsuits.

Despite all this, Frances walked away from her Homeland Security position "unscathed" enough to be appointed to George Bush's Presidential Intelligence Oversight Board. What kind of intelligence does one need to omit the hospital with the highest number of patient deaths from an investigative report? Simply amazing...

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