Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer calls to express puzzlement over a portion of the 9/11 commission report that lists the participants at a key planning meeting at Camp David just four days after the attacks.
"President Bush convened his war council at Camp David," the report says. "Present were Vice President Cheney, [national security adviser Condoleezza] Rice, [deputy adviser Stephen] Hadley, [Secretary of State Colin] Powell, [deputy secretary Richard] Armitage, [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld," along with Attorney General John Ashcroft, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, then-CIA chief George Tenet, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and CIA counterterrorism chief Cofer Black.
Fleischer had been wondering about that meeting ever since former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, in author Ron Suskind's tell-all book about O'Neill, said that "the war cabinet was joined by members of the White House staff, including Karen Hughes and Ari Fleischer."
Fleischer, proud pappy of 2-month-old Liz, who's moving his communications company headquarters to New York (but keeping an office here), says he and Hughes were not invited to attend that meeting and the commission has it right. The commission also says O'Neill wasn't there.
The commission may have it right about Fleischer, but the list, apparently based on an invite memo from Hadley, is imprecise. O'Neill and our colleague Bob Woodward, in his book "Bush at War," put White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card there, and the commission report doesn't.
Woodward's book and, of course Suskind's, have O'Neill there, and both books put former Joint Chiefs Chairman Hugh Shelton there, though the commission doesn't list him.
Problem may be the list, if based on invites, does not account for dropouts, crashers and later invitees. Our rule of thumb is: When in doubt, go with Woodward.
A High-Tech Message on the Streets
"Labor Department Launches Web Site to Help the Homeless," read the curious headline in the department's news release the other day.
Yes indeed. DOL has "launched a Web site to help America's homeless find jobs through mainstream as well as targeted training, education and placement services and to provide a vital link to government-wide resources," the announcement said.
"This Web page furthers the Administration's commitment to helping the homeless, including homeless veterans," Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in the release.
Loop Fans were stunned. "Are they nuts?" one Hill staffer said in an e-mail. "A website to help the homeless? Don't they realize [the homeless] don't have internet access in their cardboard boxes?"
Of course they do. A closer reading of the somewhat inartfully worded release indicates the site is to be used by groups and people who help the homeless. And besides, as WiFi becomes more prevalent, Web access from laptops can be had even from heating grates, no need to order that grande latte. And, most important, the press office got Chao's name high up in the release. Spelled it right, too.
Leaving the CIA Fold
CIA General Counsel Scott W. Muller is the latest top agency official packing his bags, our colleague Dana Priest reports. Muller's bought a house in Connecticut, which he plans to work on, and do some sailing. Then it's back to New York-based law firm Davis, Polk & Wardwell, which he left before joining the CIA in October 2002. He was the managing partner of the Washington office. His resignation is effective Sunday.
Acting Director John E. McLaughlin said Muller dealt with some of "the most complex and challenging legal and policy issues" the CIA has faced. That would be issues including assassinating al Qaeda members and setting up a new interrogation regime for high-value suspected terrorists, just in case you're wondering. Standard lawyer stuff.
Want Fries With That Inquiry?
Quote of the day: Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), responding to California Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman's accusation that politics are behind an investigation of former Clinton aide and erstwhile Kerry adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger's removal of secret National Archives documents: It's got nothing to do with "Sandy Berger, the Democrat. . . . I don't care if it's Sandy Berger or Warren Burger or Veggie Burger who walked off with 'code word' documents. . . . It's . . . the fact that it could happen -- that concerns the Committee."
What about Tofu Burger?