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November 19, 2007


Thanks ew. I stole this from Elliott over at FDL re Fran: "Hey I thought all the Bushites had to stay if they didn’t resign by Labor Day!"

It is still stunningly stark after being up for TWO hours.

This may be the only honest resignation proferred by an insider. No lies. No excuses. No flawed write-ups. Just exit stage right. I have to wonder what happened over the weekend, since this sort of hasty retreat is usually tossed out with the Friday night rubbish.

Are any of The Texans besides Dead-Eye Dick left in the Administration?

What will it take to get him out of there, since impeachment, nuclear war, and a change of Administration won't pry him from out under the Naval Observatory! He has probably tunneled 3 exits so I'm not sure that we could simply seal him off to avoid contamination of the living.

Some WAGs on possible reasons, some of them floated elsewhere.

  • Won't abide by Iran invasion
  • Won't abide by Bush using funding for Iraq that was not allocated for it
  • Wants to get rich
  • Some other illegal program

Any ideas?

Anybody else remember Fran Townsend from this PBS Frontline doc on John O'Neill?

The first time I saw her in a White House video, I kept thinking, I know that woman; I know that woman.

I sure can't figure her out, though.

EW, are the any indications that Fran participated in anything illegal that may be coming to light soon? Pick your scandal, there are lots to choose from ;) Just curious, 'cause given her loyalty to date, your first two choices suggesting an ethical reason, just seems so unlikely...

Well, this is kind of out of the blue. Other than a general distaste for all things Bush, and the cold, partisan apparatchik demeanor she exudes, I have never been able to figure Townsend out. She is in the middle of a lot of things over the course of the Bush mis-administration, but her actual fingerprints are pretty scarce. I wonder what is up to beget this unexpected, and sudden announcement of her resignation at the start of an off-news cycle, short holiday week with nobody in the Beltway?

Another Monday resignation.

Seems Monday is the new Friday with this group.

I'm reminded of your AGAG analysis: is it

1. quit
2. lawyer up
3. indictment


1. lawyer up
2. quit
3. indictment

Maybe a little bird told Townsend that it was time to fly.


Well, like I said, she proved willing to support extraordinary renditions--and presumably all manner of other UE surveillance.

But as Novak knows, she also got along fine in Reno's DOJ. Which is why I think it might be along the lines of what Comey et al would resign for--something clearly unconstitutional or so bad for the country that you had to put your foot down. Kind of like Richard Clarke, in the same position, might have done.

The reason I think it was bad for the Bushies is because of its suddenness and the silence just after it followed.

and re: timing, perhaps they are counting on the quiet press release going unnoticed among the continuing histronics from the Novakula/Hillary/Obama babblefest.

Fair enough EW, but if Mary's interpretation of the hospital showdown is correct, then not even Comey's threatened resignation was motivated by a purely ethical stance, but rather a threat of personal liability in criminal conduct. This is why my knee jerk reaction is to go sniffing around for legal motivations for a quick departure. But to be fair, in the end it really may be that she hit her limit of what she could support.

My bets are that she is a player in the supposed IG report kicking around on Maher Arar.


Apparently that IG report has been in the works for 4 years (for my part, I thought the filing of Arar's lawsuit with the sudden revelation that maybe some of the DOJ lawyers who made this country a state sponsor of torture might have some direct responsiblity was a part of what was causing the Comey/Goldsmith et al crew to get a little more serious about their legal duties) but only now is anyone hearing anything about it.

An old US News & World report had a write up on Townsend that made it pretty clear that she was tossed out of FISC by Lambert for being less than candid with that court. I've seen reports that she was one of the day trippers to view the sights and spectacles at GITMO, and I wouldn't be that suprised to see her involved in handling of some of the Arar case up front.

Horton (who has a couple of out of this world wonderful posts up on torture and Mukasey and his appointments right now) says of the IG report:

As one Judiciary Committee member told me, “It’s rare that you come across a case in which even the spokesmen for the Administration signal to you that they know the official answers they’re conveying aren’t quite true. This is such a case, and that makes it even more worrisome.” Congress pressed for an internal investigation, and the lot fell to the newly created Inspector General for Homeland Security.
IG investigators were astonished particularly by what transpired in the first ten days of Arar’s detention. Well-defined procedures were not followed. The State Department was consciously kept out of the loop. Steps were taken to circumvent Arar’s rights, and particularly to guard against the prospect that a lawyer for Arar would challenge his highly dubious treatment through a habeas corpus proceeding. Who was at fault in this process? A group of very senior figures, mostly in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Justice Department figures, and particularly those who are fingered and criticized in the early drafts of the IG Report, have been frantic in their efforts to quash it. And they’re succeeding. That, I am told, is why the IG Report has not been finalized and transmitted to Congress.

Maybe the quashing isn't going to be long term successful.

Of course, it probably will and it probably will be like Comey's in-house Higazy investigation (where the only questions left open for resolution involved how bright the halos shone).

In any event, given the history of the FISC involvement, I'd guess a little extra-judicial torture that she thought could stay covered up wouldn't really phase a Bush Girl that much.

Looks like I cross posted with you phred, but either you are very psychic or I am kind of predictably cynical ;)

She had a phone on her desk with a direct connection to #10 Downing St.

It would also be a direct connection FROM London... with a new PM who may be prepared to do something to upset Bush, like transfer all troops by the New Year? Or new leaks of prewar intelligence-fixing?

The dedicated silence, when even news-mongers aren't inventing or uncovering gossip by anonymous sources, is interesting and making my nose twitch.

TNH "Fran Townsend Resigns" linked to from salon.com's Blog Report


Interesting thought on the Arar. What's the relation bet DHS and Czarina of HS, since DHS is doing the investigation. Besides the obvious that Fran and Chertoff (I never cease to laugh that his name means "of the devil") probably knew each other from their NY days.

Thanks Mary :) I would never call you cynical, by the way, very very astute, but not cynical ;)

EW - I don't really understand DHS and that's probably at least in part not just it's newness, but my aversion to anything referring to "the Homeland".

Here's the OIG site for DHS.

Because of Arar's alien status, I guess I can understand this going to DHS's IG, but I don't really know why there isn't also a DOJ/IG investigation going on, although it might just get kicked to OPR (btw, Horton also has a recent piece up about some of the sea changes at OPR over the last few years)

I thought the "mostly" in this part of Horton's piece was interesting:

Who was at fault in this process? A group of very senior figures, mostly in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Arar's lawsuit (which was filed well before Clement stood before the Sup Ct and made his Padilla/Hamdan arguments) names several members of ICE, Ashcroft, Thompson (and IIRC the attachments indicated that Thompson is who signed off directly on the deportation) etc. But he never had discovery, so who he would have named with more info is ???

And just for the overall context, I also don't know what role if any DHS Chief Counsel (or Skeletor for that matter) would have played in the report and what is happening with it, but here's not-that-oldie link to toss in about DHS IG Skinner not having all that much fun playing with Cheney's son-in-law, who was Chief Counsel at DHS.


And fwiw, in the "mostly" above, I'm thinking that in addition to some DHS folk it wouldn't be extraordinarily surpising of OVP or WH staff/counsel might have been involved in the machinations.

I'm smelling Rudy Giuliani and Judith Regan. . .

Going down a completely different track than my musings, someone has told me that Steve Clemons has a bit up about the fact that he had earlier posted about seeing Townsend having drinks with Hillary Clton's Senate spokesman, Phillippe Reines at the Mayflower and that he had taken that post down when a journo friend was somehow getting flack over it and that he is worried that it may have somehow had something to do with Townsend stepping down.

There's a different option.

I'm sticking with something not nice as the tie though.

Gloss from the Francophone and Old Slavonic: Maybe Townsend was involved in the illicit international machinations surrounding whatever individuals a pair of CAN MPs were discussing in last Friday's invective against Rumsfeld's counterpart in that country; tabloid description of exchange there; interesting specifics from unidentified transcript posted surprisingly there. Old Sl., chert also refers to other things than the obvious cited already, one concept having a similarity to the ink of the redactor, i.e., black; shared root with Chernobyl, the second syllable root meaning in the latter being one central Asian word for spirit, or ghost, though reportedly the reactor of notoriety merely sharing the parlance name for a fieldgrass.

We need a board for this one, EW. Five bucks a square, pick your reason why Townsend exited...or maybe something more like a good old-fashioned game of Clue crossed with financial incentives: "I'll take Professor Townsend in DHS with an executive order for five bucks, please."

I'd buy separate squares for Pakistan and for presidential directives NSPD-51 and HSPD-20, if we had such a board. I figure she'd have bailed because of Arar already, if she was as bright as Comey (and maybe that assumption will cost me 10-15 bucks on our virtual board).

Mary: "but my aversion to anything referring to "the Homeland"."

Sometimes, Mary, I think I am channeling you or you me. "Homeland Security" has always had a Nazi feeling to me. Couple that with the "Patriot Act" and you have all you need for an Orwellian dark tale.

""Homeland Security" has always had a Nazi feeling to me. Couple that with the "Patriot Act" and you have all you need for an Orwellian dark tale."



I actually think, given the tone of her letter, she may be stepping down to take a breather between Administrations, perhaps even to work on a campaign. She says she's taking "a respite" from public service, so she's clearly planning on coming back. And there are only a few positions that would be logical steps up from Terror Czarina: AG, DHS, maybe NSA. So given your comment, I'm now putting all my money into "she's leaving to work for Hillary."

Also note, she doesn't date her letter--no one has, AFAIK, detailed when her final day is.

It also raises questions about Hillary's promise "to review" Bush's UE policies. If she's already talking to Townsend (and again, this remains outtamyarse), then it would sure suggest she's going to continue many of Bush's more reprehensible policies.

...funny thing was just watching the news in the cafeteria and they said..."..and she's not stepping down to have more time for home and family..she's actually getting another job...one that is 20 hours a day." I thought to myself yeah right...perhaps 20 hours a week.

I'm pretty positive that Hillary would continue reprehensible policies bc some of them got their baby steps started with Bill.

Rayne: I figure she'd have bailed because of Arar already, if she was as bright as Comey I'm not sure I understand on that one. I think if she was involved, the best way to keep that involvement from having consequences is to stay as one of the protected circle/string pullers. Comey came in after the decisions on Arar had been made - Comey didn't make the operative decisions on Arar (just filed the cover up/state secrets Affidavit) just like he didn't make the operative decisions on what happened with Padilla - just used his office and position to execute a torture based arrest warrant and to take and American into DOJ custody as an intermediate step to handing that citizen over for disappearance and torture.

Someone in Arar's case was involved in the actual networking decisions to get they Syrians to agree to take and torture him and to get the Jordanians to let us take him through there and to hide him from his lawyer in NYC etc.

If that is the story about to come out via an IGs report that may not have been effectively quashed after all (or else Horton might never have gotten hold of his info) that's what I was getting at as a reason she might need to go now.

Could be that she's instead going to go be a Hillary kid - - but I don't think so. She wouldn't have to pull out to have a good chance at that slot IMO. But who knows - I'm definitely biased against the whole crew and suspicious that most of their actions tie to the possiblity of adverse consequences more than anything else. So I know my bias and that you miss things when you are biased.

And another one is quitting... Paulouse is stepping out as USA and taking a different job in the Justice Department. Again, just the briefest of AP reports.

Since the top positions are all held by "acting" whatevers (except for Mulaskey), she could be moving into almost anything. Goodling-Two-Shoe's job?

Something is up!


Anyone think this is tied to her history with telecom immunity and FISA?

10. More money
9. Spend more time with the family
8. Time to begin a defense fund
7. Offered a job in the HQ (Hell)
6. Embarrassed someone saw wear same dress as Dubya
5. Lots more money to be made
4. It takes time to hire a really really good lawyer
3. Might like to travel abroad, perhaps Parador
2. Saw Karl Rove leave and just copied him
1. Couldn't stand to watch George W. Bush destroy America from the White House and decided the view would be better from somewhere else.

Her resignation letter is, well, just go read Scott Horton:

One thing he doesn't mention. What's up with the question mark at the end of her signature? I'm not much on graphology, but that seems a little Freudian to me...


THe whole letter reads REPRESSED--everything leaning backwards, the text all on the left side of the page. And the Catholic girl's school handwriting.

I do hope the woman takes some time to relax, because she's wound pretty tight.

As to the question mark? I think it's her big flourish. He one release, if you will.

An interesting bit from 2004-


Gives some potential perspective...

Rice does Bush's Dick work, that's how he got elected.

Did Rice write any 'man' letters?

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