Top home­land se­cu­rity ad­viser to Bush to step down

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jon Ward

Pres­i­dent Bush’s top home­land se­cu­rity ad­viser will leave the post af­ter the new year, the White House an­nounced Nov. 19.

Frances F. Townsend, 45, headed the Home­land Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for four years. The coun­cil’s role is to de­velop pol­icy and help co­or­di­nate the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to pre­vent ter­ror­ism and re­spond to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

“Fran has al­ways pro­vided wise coun­sel on how to best pro­tect the Amer­i­can peo­ple from the threat of ter­ror­ism,” Mr. Bush said. “We are safer to­day be­cause of her lead­er­ship.”

De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cur ity Sec­re­tar y Michael Chertoff said Mrs. Townsend was “a ma­jor ar­chi­tect of our na­tional home­land se­cu­rity strate­gies.”

“Fran has also con­trib­uted might­ily to the mat­u­ra­tion of the de­part­ment,” Mr. Chertoff said. “Al­ways wise, ded­i­cated and en­er­getic, Fran de­serves all our grat­i­tude for her ser­vice and sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tion to se­cur­ing the home­land.”

The White House did not im­me­di­ately name a suc­ces­sor to Mrs. Townsend, who is mar­ried and the mother of two young chil­dren.

Mrs. Townsend’s deputy, Joel Bag­nal, was cited by some ob­servers as a likely choice to suc­ceed her.

Mrs. Townsend “strug­gled with this de­ci­sion” over sev­eral months, White House press sec­re­tary Dana Perino said.

“She will pur­sue some private- sec­tor op­por­tu­ni­ties. She does in­tend to re­main very ac­tive in the pub­lic de­bate about coun­tert­er­ror­ism,” Mrs. Perino said.

Mrs. Townsend was known as a no-non­sense man­ager who spoke bluntly and ad­vo­cated strongly for the pres­i­dent, gain­ing his re­spect and trust.

She came to the White House from the U.S. Coast Guard, where she served as an as­sis­tant com­man­dant for intelligence.

More no­tably, Mrs. Townsend was a close ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Clin­ton’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral Janet Reno. In 1991, Mrs. Townsend left the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in New York, where she was a pros­e­cu­tor, and worked her way up in the Clin­ton Jus­tice De­part­ment.

In 1998, she was pro­moted to man­age the of­fice of intelligence pol­icy and re­view, ad­vis­ing Miss Reno on le­gal mat­ters per­tain­ing to na­tional se­cu­rity.

Home­land se­cu­rity spe­cial­ists gave Mrs. Townsend high marks for her pol­icy work, but said her Home­land Se­cu­rity Coun­cil has had less suc­cess in im­ple­men­ta­tion.

“There’s a num­ber of poli­cies put in place that never ex­isted be­fore but are crit­i­cally im­por­tant to the se­cu­rity of this na­tion,” said David Hey­man, di­rec­tor of the home­land se­cu­rity pro­gram at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies. “She gets credit for that.”

How­ever, Mr. Hey­man said, “I would say prob­a­bly half the poli­cies are still wait­ing to be im­ple­mented.”

Mr. Hey­man cited Mr. Bush’s re­quest last spring for a home­land se­cu­rity strat­egy to pre­vent road­side bombs in the U.S. sim­i­lar to those used by in­sur­gents in Iraq.

“That had a 60- to 90-day im­ple­men­ta­tion plan re­quire­ment. We’re still wait­ing to hear about it. That’s just the most re­cent ex­am­ple,” Mr. Hey­man said.

The big­gest con­cern, he said, is what will hap­pen with home­land se­cu­rity when the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion leaves and a new pres­i­dent takes of­fice, es­pe­cially since al Qaeda has at­tacked other West­ern coun­tries just be­fore or af­ter elec­tions.

“Here we have the largest re­or­ga­ni­za­tion of gov­ern­ment in the last half-cen­tury in Amer­ica, and th­ese peo­ple who have been there build­ing and shap­ing our Home­land Se­cu­rity De­part­ment are leav­ing, and sea­soned vet­er­ans like Fran Townsend need to help tran­si­tion this new ar­chi­tec­ture for se­cu­rity from one ad­min­is­tra­tion to the next,” Mr. Hey­man said.

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Frances F. Townsend headed the Home­land Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for four years be­fore the White House an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion Nov. 19, ef­fec­tive af­ter the new year.

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