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 the National Archives discovered that classified material Mr. Berger had reviewed was missing. …
Mr. Berger spent about 30 hours over three days in the summer and fall of 2003 reviewing classified material in a secure government reading room, his associates said. … Officials at the National Archives realized late last year that several documents were missing and turned the matter over to the F.B.I., which later searched Mr. Berger’s home and office, officials said. Mr. Breuer said that Mr. Berger had returned two of the documents, but that he had apparently discarded several others inadvertently.
So this investigation has been ongoing since January — since before Kerry became the frontrunner in the Democratic primaries. Berger himself knew of this investigation at that time. One would presume that the Justice Department knew about it. The Clintons knew about it, thanks to the call early on to Bruce Lindsey from National Archives staff members.
So when did Kerry know about it? Did his “good friend” Sandy Berger keep it a secret from him? Nothing in Kerry’s statement mentions when this matter was brought to his attention. Someone had to be aware of it, or else Berger had another way to access classified information for reviewing the data for Kerry. Either Berger kept the whole thing secret from Kerry (which seems like an odd thing to do to a friend), or Kerry has been promoting Berger through his campaign knowing that he breached security on multiple occasions when reviewing highly classified terror-related materials.
So when did Kerry know his friend and national-security advisor broke security laws?
One other point about timing. Many people, including Bill Clinton and several other prominent Democrats, have accused the current administration of leaking this now to deflect attention from the 9/11 Commission report. But if Berger was under investigation for security violations since January, wouldn’t it have been better (for the Bush administration) to have leaked it during Berger’s public testimony? Besides, with the news that the commission report will wind up without concluding that the attacks were avoidable and the Senate about to issue a report supporting the WMD claims made by the administration, Bush didn’t need the Berger debacle at all.
Ask yourself this: who benefits from a Kerry implosion before the convention?
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