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July 22, 2004
NY Daily News: Berger Allowed Phone Calls When Reading Top-Secret Documents

The New York Daily News reports that "Soxy Sandy" (love the tabs, man) distracted security monitors at the National Archives by taking a number of bathroom breaks and convinced them to give him more privacy:

Former national security adviser Sandy Berger repeatedly persuaded monitors assigned to watch him review top secret documents to break the rules and leave him alone, sources said yesterday.

Berger, accused of smuggling some of the secret files out of the National Archives, got the monitors out of the high-security room by telling them he had to make sensitive phone calls. ... Berger also took "lots of bathroom breaks" that apparently aroused some suspicion, the [senior law-enforcement] source added. ...

Asked if guards left Berger alone in the classified reading room while he made calls, archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper replied, "I'm not going to say I haven't heard that."

Let me get this straight. The former NSA, who actually had no official standing at the time he reviewed the documents, was allowed to make unattended phone calls while looking at codeword-classified documents? No wonder Denny Hastert has called for public hearings into this fiasco; either someone pulled some mighty big strings for Berger to do that, or the National Archives has become completely incompetent at safeguarding classified information and should have its clearance revoked.

Who did Berger call? Bill Clinton? John Kerry? Osama bin Laden? If records of these phone calls exist -- and I doubt they do -- they should be immediately made public so that we can see who Berger called, if anyone at all. It's more likely, of course, that Berger simply used that as an excuse to get the monitors out of the room, an overt act which destroys any argument of 'inadvertence'. However, the fact that security staff allowed Berger to make unattended calls from a secure room boggles the mind.

The Daily News, along with CNN and other media sources, also confirm again that Berger stuffed his socks with notes and/or documents when lifting material from the facility, in opposition to what Berger's lawyer asserted earlier.

Addendum: Actually, phone calls fit rather nicely into an effort to hide relevant documentation from the 9/11 Commission. When better to get advice as to which versions of documents to lift? Berger calls someone and says, "I have this copy with Bill Clinton's notes in the margin, which say [fill in blank]. Should I leave that one in or take it with me?"

So who was on the other end of the line?

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers ... I've created a new category for Trousergate posts. For all categories, check out the right sidebar (or scroll down farther on the left sidebar if you're using the Buccaneer skin).

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 22, 2004 6:15 AM

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In a move to try to detract Americans from the story of former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger stealing classified documents from the National Archives in his pants, the Democratic National Committee is trying to blame the White House fo... [Read More]

Tracked on July 22, 2004 11:15 AM

Berger wrote this?! "My old boss asked me to do him a favor and grab classified documents but I think I accidentally discarded them here, at a Starbucks. So, these papers are like really important. Everyone's mad at me. There's a reward" [Read More]

Tracked on July 22, 2004 12:28 PM

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