The Washington Post reports today that the Justice Department's Inspector General found that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales failed to take adequate precautions when handling classified documents related to various surveillance programs.
At issue are notes that Gonzales took during a March 2004 meeting between President Bush and congressional leaders in the White House Situation Room, as a program that allowed authorities to secretly monitor communications for evidence of terrorist plots was set to expire.
When Gonzales, then White House counsel, moved to become the Justice Department's top official in early 2005, he failed to secure the notes in a sensitive compartmentalized facility, the inspector general has concluded. Gonzales kept the notes in a safe in his office and at times took them to and from work in a briefcase -- practices that violated protocols for the handling of classified materials, according to people familiar with the report.
In a memo to the inspector general, Gonzales's advisers characterized the episode as an unintentional mistake and a technical violation of the rules.
Officials in the Justice Department's national security division looked at the inspector general's report but did not find a case to prosecute, according to a source familiar with the deliberations.