DoD staffer's notes from 9/11 obtained under FOIA

Thursday, February 16, 2006

On July 23, 2005, I submitted an electronic Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Defense seeking DoD staffer Steven Cambone's notes from meetings with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. Cambone's notes were cited heavily in the 9/11 Commission Report's reconstruction of the day's events. On February 10, 2006, I received a response from the DoD which includes partially-redacted copies of Cambone's notes.

The released notes document Donald Rumsfeld's 2:40 PM instructions to General Myers to find the "best info fast . . . judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time - not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]" (as discussed on p. 334-335 of The 9/11 Commission Report and in Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack).

In addition, the documents confirm the contents of CBS News' Sept. 4, 2002 report "Plans For Iraq Attack Began on 9/11," which quoted Rumsfeld's notes as stating: "Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not." These lines were not mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report or Woodward's Plan of Attack, and to my knowledge, have not been independently confirmed by any other source. After the Rathergate fiasco, I wondered if CBS had been fooled into publishing a story that, from a publicity perspective, seemed too good to be true.

Finally, these documents unveil a previously undisclosed part of the 2:40 PM discussion. Several lines below the "judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. at same time" line, Cambone's notes from the conversation read: "Hard to get a good case."

The documents are available as a photo set on Flickr, and or you can download them in PDF format:

Notes from 12:05 PM meeting [PDF]
Notes from 12:05 PM meeting (negative) [PDF]
Notes from 2:40 PM meeting [PDF]
Notes from 2:40 PM meeting (negative) [PDF]
Notes from 9:53 PM meeting [PDF]
Notes from 9:53 PM meeting (negative) [PDF]
DoD's FOIA release letter [PDF]
Raw scan of page 3 of notes [PDF]
Raw scan of page 5 of notes [PDF]
Raw scan of page 6 of notes [PDF]
Raw scan of page 9 of notes [PDF]