A triple skim latte and some talking points

By Geraldine Sealey
Published March 31, 2004 4:38PM (EST)

A Bush administration employee known only as "Eric" may now be a former employee for leaving sensitive materials at a Washington D.C. Starbucks. The Center for American Progress got their hands on the papers when a resident of Dupont Circle found them at his local coffee shop and handed them over to the left-leaning think tank. CAP has posted the documents, with an important redaction and some snarky embellishments, on its Web site.

Eric's lost Pentagon's Papers, as CAP is calling them, were basically talking points for preparing administration officials including Rumsfeld for their round of Sunday morning talk shows. Also found among the documents was a map to Donald Rumsfeld's house, kindly redacted by the CAP folks "in the interests of national security."

Here's a translation of Eric's sloppy hand-written talking points:

"Took threat v seriously and then segue to wh we have been doing. Rise above Clarke. Emphasize importance of 9/11 commission and come back to what we have been doing. Gorelick pitting Condi v. Armitage. Our plan had military plans to attack Al Q -- called on def to draw up targets in Afg -- develop mil options."

Found at the Starbucks was also a list of possible questions Rumsfeld and other officials might encounter in their talk show appearances, including this query: "Commission member Ben-Veniste said a long string of reports on the use of airplanes as missiles was available. Did you ever see them?"

Eric didn't provide an appropriate sample answer, but CAP does, echoing the White House attack on former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke: "Ben-Veniste is disgruntled. He's angry that he was demoted from Watergate prosecutor to 9/11 commissioner. He's writing a book  and just wants to make a lot of money. Ann Coulter and Robert Novak told me he can't deal with an African-American woman."

There was also this quotation among Eric's notes, initialed DR (Rumsfeld): "Stay inside the line -- we dont need 2 puff this at all. we need 2b careful as hell about it." Then another piece of advice: "This thing will go away soon and what will keep it alive will be one of us going over the line."

Memo to Eric: You're not helping.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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