UPI reports on the notes left in the Dupont Circle Starbucks by Defense Department official Eric Ruff. The notes address the administration’s response to Richard Clarke’s allegations and were compiled for an early morning briefing of Donald Rumsfeld before his appearance on the Sunday morning talk shows. The UPI story is “Found notes may show Bush plan on Clarke.”
The notes expose a shocking sanity rampant among the Bush administration:
“Stay inside the lines. We don’t need to puff this (up). We need (to) be careful as hell about it,” the handwritten notes say. “This thing will go away soon and what will keep it alive will be one of us going over the line.”…
One of Clarke’s most damaging allegations is that he crafted an anti-terrorism plan — a National Security Presidential Directive — to take on al-Qaida in January 2001. The NSPD was not approved until Sept. 4, and neither was it substantially changed in the intervening months, according to Clarke. He has challenged the White House to release both documents to allow for a side-by-side comparison.
The notes address this matter, saying the plan to attack the Taliban existed before Sept. 4. “The NSPD wasn’t signed till Sept. 4 but had an annex going back to July (with) contingency plans to attack Taliban,” the notes say.
That point is related to another in the notes. The briefing says commission member Jamie Gorelick, a former general counsel of the Defense Department under President Clinton, was pitting Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage against Rice. Under sworn testimony, Armitage contradicted Rice’s claim the White House had a strategy before Sept. 11 that called for military operations against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The odds were not strong that a friend of the Bush administration would find the notes — the District of Columbia is enemy territory. The notes were found by a Starbucks customer who gave them to the liberal advocacy group the Center for American Progress, which has published the notes on its Web site under the heading “The Pentagon’s Papers.”