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AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza

Audrey Tomason, International Woman of Mystery

The photo was ubiquitous in the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing: there, stony-faced, glued to a Situation Room video monitor, were President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and a handful of other heavy hitters, including—hey, who’s the woman peeking out at the back?

News junkies the world over demanded to know. The caption supplied by the White House identified her as “Audrey Tomason, director for counterterrorism,” but that was no help. Whoever heard of Audrey Tomason? they chorused on their blogs. “Did she wander in
from the local high school tour?” mused a commenter named Tallyrand on ricochet.com. An article on the Daily Beast website quoted a spokesperson for the National Security Council who, when asked why Tomason had never surfaced in the media before, simply replied, “Well, we’ve never killed bin Laden before.” The Beast article went on to observe that “trace details” had begun “floating around the Internet about Tomason,” and that trying to unearth more information had become “a sort of Web parlor game.” And then this tidbit appeared: “She is said to have gone to Tufts University.”

It’s true: Tomason, one of only two women in the photo, is a Jumbo, from the class of ’99. In fact, as Sherman Teichman, founding executive director of the Institute for Global Leadership, notes, she’ll soon receive Tufts’ EPIIC (Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship) Distinguished Alumni Award. She’ll also mentor next year’s EPIIC class Confronting Conflict in the Twenty-first Century.

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