Saturday, November 21, 2009

Townsend Testifies before Homeland Security Committee

Three years after snubbing the Senate Homeland Security Committee over the White House response to Hurricane Katrina, Frances Fragos Townsend testified before the august body. She said:

"I worry about a sense of political correctness."

"We can't allow [investigators] to be reluctant to follow the facts, just because they are afraid they will be criticized for not being politically correct."

The cardinal rule of information sharing: If you
"see it, say it."

One could expect Fran to follow her own advice. The world saw hospital patients stranded in toxic gumbo, while the Bush White House dithered. It noted Fran transferring a few phone calls, before jumping on a plane to Saudi Arabia to deliver a letter on terrorism. After her return, Townsend conducted the Bush whitewash on Katrina, formally known as the Lessons Learned report.

She refused to share her e-mails on Katrina, much less testify. Yet, private sector Fran appeared before the Senate committee four years, three months and three weeks after Katrina struck. Did they assure her that no Katrina questions would be asked?

Frances Fragos Townsend is now risk management practice leader for Baker Botts. Townsend has a history of managing risk as a public servant. She omitted the hospital with the highest patient death toll. Memorial Medical Center lost 35 patients in Katrina's hellish aftermath. Ten deaths lay on Tenet Health's shoulders, while 25 belonged to renter LifeCare Hospitals.

See it, say it.

Her silence helps Memorial's corporate owners, Tenet and The Carlyle Group. Carlyle purchased LifeCare weeks before landfall. The Baker in Baker Botts is James. A the III, long associated with Carlyle.

We can't allow [investigators] to be reluctant to follow the facts, just because they are afraid

Was Fran afraid of offending politically linked corporations? Tenet and LifeCare spent big money on lobbying after Katrina struck. Was she building her private sector risk management credentials, while supposedly serving the public? Fran and the Homeland Security Committee have something in common. They both gave Memorial Medical Center a free pass in their investigative reports.

"I worry about a sense of political correctness."

So do I, Fran. So do I. As for answers, I'm still waiting.

Update 4-22-11:  Fran's "see it, say it" will become official Homeland Security policy.  The five colored terror threat levels will be reduced to two, “elevated” and “imminent.”  The pot boils for America's frogs.

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