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Today's more detailed report on Sandy Berger's plea deal in the Washington Post underscores the intent of Berger to hide and destroy information that would either embarass or incriminate himself or Bill Clinton before the 9/11 Commission could gain access to it. Far from the "accidental" removal he insisted occurred, Berger now admits to intentionally removing and destroying classified material, a condition of his plea bargain:
The deal's terms make clear that Berger spoke falsely last summer in public claims that in 2003 he twice inadvertently walked off with copies of a classified document during visits to the National Archives, then later lost them.
He described the episode last summer as "an honest mistake." Yesterday, a Berger associate who declined to be identified by name but was speaking with Berger's permission said: "He recognizes what he did was wrong. . . . It was not inadvertent."
In return, the government will convict Berger of a misdemeanor, fine him $10,000, and merely suspend his national-security clearance for three years. The government apparently feels that Berger could possibly qualify for a renewed clearance after doing this:
Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business.
He should face obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress just for this action alone, both felonies. The Post, meanwhile, insists on calling these "copies". They were not exact copies; each memo started off as a copy of an original draft by Richard Clarke, but the memos had handwritten notes from each recipient as comments, requests for revision, and suggestions for possible action. Each document was unique, and their destruction by Mr. Scissors means that we will never know what some did with Clarke's information. All we know is that it must have reflected badly on Berger, Clinton, or both. Otherwise, why would Berger destroy them?
This is a travesty. If a lower-level cleared worker had done a fraction of what Berger did in this case, he would face years in prison. Berger gets off with a fine that any of his well-connected friends will wind up underwriting, a gracious gesture of gratitude for pulling their chestnuts out of the fire.
UPDATE: Bill at INDC Journal makes this compelling point:
So, let me get this straight: Sandy Berger intentionally destroyed the only copies of top secret documents about this country's knowledge of looming terrorism threats for clearly political purposes, even though a bipartisan Congressional commission was requesting and utilizing all such documents in an effort to make recommendations about how to protect America from another terrorist attack.
In my world, that's not a "$10,000 fine ... three-year suspension of his national security clearance" offense, it's approaching treason. Former NSA or not, this man should suffer a permanent revocation of any security clearance, and probably sample the cuisine at a federal prison.
That sums it up nicely, I think.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Death...and the Left. from Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog
I was going to add this as an update to my previous Berger post, but this was too important to go unseen on my front page. The Washington Post has the inside scoop of Sandy Berger's criminal act. As part of the plea bargain, Sandy Berger admitted t... [Read More]
Tracked on April 1, 2005 8:04 AM
» Maybe I've been wrong about the "Big Tent" collapsing. from The Unabrewer
Because every once in a while, something happens that makes you think, "Oh yeah, that's why I never take those assholes seriously."[Read More]
Tracked on April 1, 2005 8:16 AM
» Oh Pleas! from Fresh Politics
As part of the plea bargain the government will convict Berger of a misdemeanor, fine him $10,000, and suspend his national-security clearance for only three years. The government apparently feels that Berger could possibly qualify for a renewed cleara... [Read More]
Tracked on April 1, 2005 8:55 AM
Tracked on April 1, 2005 10:04 AM
Tracked on April 1, 2005 10:04 AM
» Scandalpants from Dust my Broom
These were a little more important than the Clintons hoard of FBI files on Republicans, these were historical top secret documents on terrorist threats. ... [Read More]
Tracked on April 1, 2005 10:44 AM
» The Sandy Berger issue leaves one disgusted from The Anchoress
But this situation with Sandy Berger just stinks to high heaven, and I'm disgusted that case begun under the Ashcroft Justice Department and culminating on the watch of Alberto Gonzales has given Berger such a slap on the wrist for stealing and destr... [Read More]
Tracked on April 1, 2005 10:46 AM
» Does the Berger Deal Say Something VIP About Bush? from Tapscott's Copy Desk
Remember Clinton's midnight pardons? Bush had an opportunity to make public the background documents on those pardons, but he chose to put those documents behind closed doors. Why is Bush again enabling Clinton era misconduct? [Read More]
Tracked on April 1, 2005 2:02 PM
» Does Berger Deal Say Something VIP About Bush? from Tapscott's Copy Desk
Remember Clinton's midnight pardons? Bush had an opportunity to make public the background documents on those pardons, but he chose to put those documents behind closed doors. Why is Bush again enabling misconduct that so vividly reminds of the Clint... [Read More]
Tracked on April 1, 2005 2:15 PM
» Sandy Berger's Security Clearance from Powerpundit
SANDY BERGER: Rather than have his security clearance merely suspended, Berger should NEVER again possess a security clearance. Ever.... [Read More]
Tracked on April 1, 2005 4:44 PM
Tracked on April 1, 2005 5:50 PM
» Is There Anything A Liberal Democrat Can't Get Away With? from PoliPundit.com
David Wissing of The Hedgehog Report says exactly what I have been thinking about the Sandy Berger story.My question is what was in those documents that were supposedly destroyed “by accident”. One thing you have to admire though is his instinct to... [Read More]
Tracked on April 2, 2005 1:41 AM
» Sandy Berger: Getting off a bit too easy? from thebandwagon
You know what really bothers me about this? Not that someone from the Clinton Administration would pilfer or destroy something not belonging to them or have no respect for the rules. Seriously after eight years living under that reign of incompetence... [Read More]
Tracked on April 3, 2005 9:30 PM
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