Face Time with Secretary Chertoff

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BEFOREAFTER 

It's not an easy job running the Washington Whispers desk. Sometimes we just have to ask the most obvious and sometimes embarrassing question. Like when Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff came to the regular Christian Science Monitor newsmaker breakfast this week. As everybody else focused on terrorism and immigration, I just couldn't stop looking at his clean-shaven face. Yes, he shaved the Don Johnson beard off! So after one of my pals at the breakfast club asked the Secretary about what keeps him up at night, what worries him, it was my turn. And I couldn't help but ask. Here's the exchange between the Secretary, Monitor Bureau Chief David Cook, and me:

Bedard: Mr. Secretary, I'm wondering if you do wake up at night, if you do have premonitions of something that, you know, with all your knowledge, oh, my gosh, the light goes off—but first, didn't you have a mustache?

Cook: Welcome to our Washington Whispers man.

Secretary Chertoff: It was shaved off. I shaved it off. You know, time for a change, you know.

Bedard: Was that one of the nights you were staying up awake?

Secretary Chertoff: No. It was just, you know, a decision for time for a change.

Clearly he didn't want to play along and give us the real reason why he cut it off. But his spokesman Russ Knocke did offer that the boss's clean face "represents a new and full disclosure policy at the department."