Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Townsend to Testify Before Senate Homeland Security Committee Three Years Late

In 2006 White House Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend refused to testify before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on her role in the hapless Hurricane Katrina response (prior to flying to Saudi Arabia to deliver a letter). Ironically, Mrs. Townsend retired from public service, in part due to a fear of subpoenas.

Senator Joe Lieberman complained about the virtual nonexistent cooperation from the White House in conducting the Senate investigation. Joe submitted a separate letter stating:

The Committee’s efforts to understand the role the White House played in events leading up to and following the catastrophe were severely hindered by the White House’s failure to comply with Committee requests for information, documents, and interviews. As a result, we learned much too little about what the White House and the Executive Office of the President were doing during the critical days before and after Katrina struck.

Senator Lieberman (I-CT), opportunity knocks. Fran will testify before the very committee she snubbed. Might she be marketing Baker Botts risk management consulting services? Townsend heads up James A. Baker, III's consulting practice.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) had Fran's back as Committee Chair in 2006. Listen to the Senator's current position on major homeland security events like the Fort Hood massacre:

"We have the obligation at the Homeland Security (committee) to ask the tough questions," Collins said.

Good. Which senator will ask Frances about Hurricane Katrina? Who will ask why she omitted the hospital with the highest patient death toll post landfall? None will.

The Senate report mirrored Fran's pathetic investigation. It also failed to mention Memorial Medical Center, its 35 patient deaths, or its two corporate owners, Tenet Health and LifeCare Hospitals. The Carlyle Group purchased LifeCare just weeks before Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Both firms lobbied the White House in 2005-2006. Tenet talked corporate governance issues, later appointing Jeb Bush to its board of directors. Who will query if an omission warranted a commission? None will.

Senator Joe complained mightily in 2006. The law of repeating opportunities for intervention will express tomorrow. I fully expect Joe to pass.

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