Tags: Fran | Townsend | secrets

Secrets of Fran Townsend

By Ronald Kessler   |   Wednesday, 09 Jan 2008 11:46 AM

At Fran Townsend’s farewell reception in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, her mother Dorothy Fragos was telling Newsmax how the future White House counterterrorism chief demonstrated pluck and vision when she was as young as 8 years old.

Not only did she write a letter to the Pope asking to be an altar boy when only boys were selected for the honor, she also invited the family’s priest to have lunch with her at their house — without telling her mother. Townsend also wrote to astronauts inviting them to lunch.

“They never came, of course, but I received letters replying to my invitations,” Townsend said.

“She was quite a child,” her mother said.

From President Bush on down, a Who’s Who of the counterterrorism effort turned out for the reception. Guests included Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Rice told guests that when she was scheduled to have lunch with Townsend one day, a secretary mistakenly wrote “Frank Townsend” on her appointment calendar.

“I thought I had a blind date,” she deadpanned.

Bush said “Frank” was not only a successful counterterrorism chief and a “steady leader in the effort to prevent and disrupt attacks” but a successful mother of two sons.

“In my book, being a successful mother comes first,” the president said.

With the help of Bob Barnett of Williams & Connolly, Townsend is signing up to give speeches and is entertaining other business opportunities.

Spinning Americans Are Happy

Fewer suicide bombings and improvised explosive device attacks in Iraq mean fewer ways for the media to portray the Bush administration as incompetent and a threat to humanity. But the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau found a way to turn the good news into bad news.

“As Violence Falls in Iraq, Cemetery Workers Feel the Pinch,” said the headline over its story about a cemetery in Najaf.

“A drop in violence around Iraq has cut burials in the huge Wadi al Salam cemetery here by at least one-third in the past six months, and that’s cut the pay of thousands of workers who make their living digging graves, washing corpses or selling burial shrouds.”

Meanwhile, confronted with a Gallup Poll finding that more than nine in 10 Americans describe themselves as happy, Chris Matthews discovered an ingenious way to morph the good news into a knock on President Bush. The Gallup finding does not comport with the Democrats’ story line that Bush has turned the American dream into a nightmare. So Matthews suggested on MSNBC that Americans are happy despite the Bush administration’s fear-mongering about terrorists.

“For years, George Bush and Dick Cheney have been playing the fear card, constantly reminding all of us of dangers lurking right around the corner,” Matthews said. ”Well, some of our presidential candidates do the same exact thing, bragging about torture, freaking us out about Islamofascism. Well, for all you politicians who would appeal to our darker side, I offer you tonight`s big number: 92. That’s the percentage of Americans the Gallup Poll tonight says are personally happy.”

Hot Book

The National Counterterrorism Center, which brings together all 16 intelligence agencies in a single secure building, is close to having a best seller on its hands.

The NCTC’s Counterterrorism Calendar this year goes to 40,000 people concerned with intelligence. If the calendar were sold in stores, it would almost make The New York Times non-fiction list.

This year, besides cheery descriptions of anthrax and VX nerve agent, the calendar features photos and descriptions of wanted terrorists with the amounts of rewards on each of their heads.

The reward for information leading directly to the capture and/or conviction of Osama bin Laden is $27 million. Ayman al-Zawahiri will get you a cool $25 million. Lesser known al-Qaida operatives go for $1 million to $5 million.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous dispatches and have them sent to you free via e-mail.Go here now.

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