Trousergate Archives

July 19, 2004

Clinton NSA Stole Notes, Documents From 9/11 Commission

The AP reports that the FBI has been investigating former Clinton-era National Security Advisor Sandy Berger for theft of classified documents at the time of his 9/11 Commission testimony: President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, is the focus of a criminal investigation after admitting he removed highly classified terrorism documents from a secure reading room during preparations for the Sept. 11 commission hearings, The Associated Press has learned. Berger's home and office were searched earlier this year by FBI agents armed with warrants. Some drafts of a sensitive after-action report on the Clinton administration's handling of al-Qaida terror threats during the December 1999 millennium celebration are still missing. Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed handwritten notes he had taken from classified anti-terror documents he reviewed at the National Archives by sticking them in his jacket and pants. He also inadvertently took copies of actual classified...

Milbank: A Day Late And A Dollar Short

Dana Milbank may already be regretting the column he wrote for tomorrow's Washington Post, in which he claims that one word -- Halliburton -- will trump any argument that Bush/Cheney campaigners may put forward: "Halliburton," says Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton, "will always be the fire Dick Cheney can't put out." That is certainly the Democrats' hope, as they try to portray the oil services company once run by Vice President Cheney as a metaphor for all things anti-Bush. When Cheney spoke about health care yesterday in Toledo, Kerry forces held a counter-rally featuring signs saying "Health Care, Not Halliburton." Explaining that apparent non sequitur, the campaign said in a news release that health care costs would be lower if Cheney spent "as much energy on lowering health care costs as getting Halliburton their no-bid contracts." Likewise, when the Bush campaign last week demanded video footage of an event where Whoopi...

July 20, 2004

Trousergate, Cont'd

The Washington Post essentially recaps the AP story last night on Trousergate, Sandy Berger's theft of classified documents from a secure room last October, although they manage to leave out the trousers from their article. However, the story has shifted into a more muted tone in the hands of Susan Schmidt and Dan Eggen: The FBI is investigating Clinton administration national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger's removal of classified documents from the National Archives, attorneys for Berger confirmed last night. Berger inadvertently took copies of several versions of an after-action memo on the millennium bombing plot from the Archives last fall, said his attorney Lanny Breuer. The lawyer said one or more of the copies were then inadvertently discarded. ... Berger discovered several versions of the classified memo in a leather portfolio he had taken to the Archives, his attorney said. He returned them and papers on which he...

Trousergate: Just An Encore?

Instapundit links to an interesting revelation in the AP update which seems to indicate that not only was this not Berger's first incident of "sloppiness", but that security officers took an unusual step in its handling of the breach: In the FBI search of his office, Berger also was found in possession of a small number of classified note cards containing his handwritten notes from the Middle East peace talks during the 1990s, but those are not a focal point of the current criminal probe, according to officials and lawyers. Breuer said the Archives staff first raised concerns with Berger during an Oct. 2 review of documents that at least one copy of the post-millennium report he had reviewed earlier was missing. Berger was given a second copy that day, Breuer said. Officials familiar with the investigation said Archive staff specially marked the documents and when the new copy and...

Why Trousergate's Timing Matters, But Not How You Think

On both this blog and on my cross-post at Oh, That Liberal Media, commenters have questioned the timing of this leak (via Jon at QandO) to the press and the seriousness of the damage done by Sandy Berger's theft. Some have suggested that Bush operatives within the FBI deliberately let this leak out just before the release of the 9/11 Commission's report in order to dilute its impact, too. Let's take the last issue first. A family friend has been visiting the past few days, and we discussed this at breakfast this morning. (Well, in between my grunts as I moved around ...) She also questioned the timing and made the same assumption about the leak. Possibly, she's right. However, let me ask this -- when would people prefer to have the information that the 9/11 Commission was denied access to highly classified material relating to the Clinton Administration's response...

It's Just Trousergate, According To Clintonites

CNN, which had earlier reported that former Clinton Administration National Security Advisor Sandy Berger had stuffed his notes on classified documents in his socks to get them past security at the National Archives, now reports that Berger's associates vehemently dispute that detail: [L]aw enforcement sources told CNN that some of the papers he is said to have taken from the National Archives were stuffed into his socks as well as other parts of his clothing. That allegation drew sharp responses from two of Berger's associates. President Clinton's former spokesman, Joe Lockhart, said Berger "categorically denies that he ever took documents and stuffed them in his socks. "That is absurd," said Lockhart, who is now advising Berger. "And anyone who says that is interested in something other than the truth." Former Clinton aide Lanny Davis challenged any unnamed official who accuses Berger of stuffing documents into his socks to come forward...

Kerry Gives Berger The Boot

The Kerry campaign acted with uncharacteristic haste to distance itself from the debacle of Sandy Berger's breach of security at the National Archives, as Berger announced his "resignation" from a position that both Kerry and Berger now say didn't officially exist: Former national security adviser Sandy Berger, the subject of a criminal investigation over the disappearance of terrorism documents, stepped aside on Tuesday as an informal adviser to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. The investigation had threatened to become a political problem for Kerry a week before his nominating convention in Boston in which he hopes to persuade voters that he is ready to be commander in chief. The cornerstone of Kerry's argument against Bush is that he used faulty intelligence and poor judgment in waging war against Iraq. The question now is when did the Kerry campaign find out about the security breaches at the National Archives? These thefts...

Gray Lady Spins It Hard For Kerry, Berger

The New York Times reports on the resignation of Sandy Berger from John Kerry's presidential campaign following reports of the theft of documents from the National Archives. The Gray Lady's David Stout and Mark Glassman throw away any pretense at objectivity as they spin their article hard to port: Mr. Berger's mishandling of the documents, which were related to terrorism and which he took from the National Archives in preparation for his testimony before the 9/11 commission, seemed today to become a bigger problem for the Kerry campaign almost by the hour and at the worst possible time, as Mr. Kerry is hoping to gain a big lift by next week's Democratic National Convention in Boston. Mr. Berger, no stranger to the knees and elbows of Washington, apparently bowed to the political reality that "if you have to explain it, don't bother." ... While Democrats had seemed inclined to...

July 21, 2004

Trousergate Timing Gets More Curious

The New York Times, in its update on the Sandy Berger debacle known as Trousergate among bloggers, raises even bigger questions regarding the timing not of the revelation of the investigation but of Berger's association with the Kerry campaign: For months, Mr. Berger has consulted regularly with Mr. Kerry on the Iraq war, Middle East relations, terrorism and other foreign policy matters, helping to formulate speeches, prepare op-ed articles and brief reporters on the candidate's positions, campaign officials said. "Sandy Berger is my friend, and he has tirelessly served this nation with honor and distinction," Mr. Kerry said Tuesday in a statement. "I respect his decision to step aside as an adviser to the campaign until this matter is resolved objectively and fairly." Associates said he would probably try to rejoin the campaign after the Federal Bureau of Investigation had concluded an investigation that began in earnest in January after...

Unless Sandy Berger Works There, In Which Case It's All Political

The Washington Post reports that ongoing security breaches at the nation's top weapons development lab have shut down operations and may result in a criminal investigation: Failure at the Los Alamos National Laboratory to follow security procedures is widespread and the highly secretive nuclear facility lacks an effective system to prevent employees from removing classified material, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said in a toughly worded statement yesterday that threatened firings and left open the possibility of a criminal investigation. Missing computer disks, classified information sent out via e-mail and an accident involving a summer intern injured in the eye by a laser forced Los Alamos to stop nearly all of its operations over the weekend, including weapons research and field testing, as a major investigation into serious security breaches and accidents got underway. Los Alamos promises to start firing people to get the message across after several incidents at the...

July 22, 2004

Sloppiness Turns To Suspicion

Sandy Berger's preferred excuse, one that Bill Clinton himself has publicly endorsed, that his "sloppiness" led to the pilfering of classified documents from the National Archives takes another body blow in today's Washington Post. John Harris and Susan Schmidt report that National Archive staff had become so suspicious of Berger's conduct that they implemented a special coding system to, in effect, sting him for his repeated security violations: Last Oct. 2, former Clinton national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger stayed huddled over papers at the National Archives until 8 p.m. What he did not know as he labored through that long Thursday was that the same Archives employees who were solicitously retrieving documents for him were also watching their important visitor with a suspicious eye. After Berger's previous visit, in September, Archives officials believed documents were missing. This time, they specially coded the papers to more easily tell whether...

July 23, 2004

Height Of Hypocrisy

The press continues to focus on the least egregious leak in the entire Trousergate scandal surrounding Sandy Berger, as the Democrats play a little sleight of hand in pushing the focus onto the White House instead of Sandy Berger: A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that some National Security Council officials knew Berger -- who has resigned from his position as informal adviser to Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry -- was suspected of mishandling National Archives documents that were being sought by the commission. ... Former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart, who is serving as a spokesman for Berger during the controversy, said the expanding circle of officials who the White House acknowledges knew of the criminal investigation heightens his suspicion about the timing of the disclosure that Berger is under investigation. "This is the third day in a row that the story...

July 25, 2004

The Trojan Berger -- What Did Sandy Bring To The Archives?

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review gives a new twist to Trousergate today, reporting that Sandy Berger may have not only taken top-secret information out of the National Archives, but also may have acted as a Trojan Horse for disinformation getting in (via Instapundit): What was Sandy Berger up to when he "inadvertently" removed versions of a classified National Archives memo that critiqued Clinton administration intelligence and security efforts regarding the millennium celebrations? We still don't know. But a bigger question is being posed by some of the well-sourced wags with whom we regularly converse. In fact, one says the thrust of the federal investigation now looking into Mr. Berger's actions should center not necessarily on what was taken from the archived files but what was placed in them [emph in original]. ... And adding an entirely new layer of intrigue to the story is word that telephone calls made by Berger during...