Here’s what Alberto Gonzales thought was so sensitive, he illegally kept it in an unsecure safe and brought it back and forth to work in his briefcase.
The classified materials that are the subject of this investigation consist of notes that Gonzales drafted to memorialize a classified briefing of congressional leaders about the NSA surveillance program when Gonzales was the White House Counsel; draft and final Office of Legal Counsel opinions about both the NSA surveillance program and a detainee interrogation program; correspondence from congressional leaders to the Director of Central Intelligence; and other memoranda describing legal and operational aspects of the two classified programs.
Gonzales told the OIG that President Bush directed him to memorialize the March 10, 2004, meeting. [ed. Note, contrary to one of the press reports, it does not appear that Bush was at the meeting–though Cheney was.] Gonzales stated that he drafted notes about the meeting in a spiral notebook in his White House Counsel’s Office within a few days of the meeting, probably on the weekend immediately following the meeting. Gonzales stated that he wrote the notes in a single sitting except for one line, which he told us he wrote within the next day. Gonzales said that his intent in drafting the notes was to record the reactions of the congressional leaders during the meeting, as opposed to recording any operational details about the program that were discussed. In the notes, Gonzales listed who was present, followed by a general summary of the briefing given to the congressional leaders by intelligence agency officials, and the congressional leaders’ responses to the briefing. However, Gonzales’s summary also referenced TS/SCI operational aspects of the program by his use of specific terms associated with the program. The notes also included the SCI codeword used to identify the program. [my emphasis]
The two envelopes contained a total of 17 separate documents. The envelope containing documents related to the NSA surveillance program bore the handwritten markings, "TOP SECRET – EYES ONLY – ARG" followed by an abbreviation for the SCI codeword for the program. The envelope containing the documents relating to a detainee interrogation program bore classification markings related to that program. Each document inside the envelopes had a cover sheet and header-footer markings indicating the document was TS/SCI. Read more