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Who Is the Mystery Woman in the White House Situation Room Photo?


"Who's the woman peeking her head from the back?"

In this iconic image of President Barack Obama surrounded by his closest national security advisors, most of the figures are familiar faces: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Admiral Michael Mullen, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Counterterrorism Chief John Brennan etc.

But there is one person who is less familiar--this woman in the far background of the picture.

Who is she?

The Daily Beast patches together some clues:

Who's the woman peeking her head from the back? A White House caption for the photo identifies her as Audrey Tomason with title "Director for Counterterrorism." But in a room full of oft-cited and quoted people, there's fleetingly little published information about who she is or what she does for the administration.

The presence of Tomason is notable for a few reasons. Next to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she's the only other woman pictured in the testosterone-filled room. And she appears to be the only person under 40. But what matters most is that she is standing just a few feet from the president, who is otherwise surrounded by his closest advisers, as they watch one of the country's highest-stakes operations in decades as it occurs in real time.

When The Daily Beast asked the White House press office about Tomason, an official said she worked with the National Security Council, a White House agency closely involved with the intelligence that led to bin Laden. The official intimated that the White House generally doesn't discuss personnel at any of the government's covert or intelligence agencies. Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the NSC, confirmed she worked with the agency. When asked why she had never been identified or mentioned before, Vietor responded "Well, we've never killed bin Laden before."

Read the full story here.

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