July 21, 2004
Are Those Classified Documents In Your Pocket Or Did You Just Meet Monica?
Former Clinton national security advisor Sandy Berger is the subject of a criminal investigation after he admitted to -- WHOOPS! -- "inadvertently" shoving highly classified terrorism-related documents in his pants and socks.
Fox News reports:
Berger's home and office were searched earlier this year by FBI agents armed with warrants after the former Clinton adviser voluntarily returned some sensitive documents to the National Archives and admitted he also removed handwritten notes he had made while reviewing the sensitive documents.
However, some drafts of a sensitive after-action report on the Clinton administration's handling of Al Qaeda terror threats during the December 1999 millennium celebration are still missing, officials and lawyers said. Officials said the missing documents also identified America's terror vulnerabilities at airports to seaports.
Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket, pants and socks, and also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio."I deeply regret the sloppiness involved, but I had no intention of withholding documents from the commission, and to the contrary, to my knowledge, every document requested by the commission from the Clinton administration was produced," Berger said in a statement.
Sandy's explanation is as contorted as Rosemary Woods' body when she explained how she managed to -- WHOOPS! -- erase 18 1/2 minutes from one of Nixon's tapes.
How one manages to "inadvertently" drop highly classified papers into one's trousers and socks and jacket pockets, Sandy did not say. The Bergermeister's excuse is a variation of a Steve Martin bit from years ago. Steve dispensed some legal advice to the audience; whenever you're arrested, just tell the judge, "I forgot. I forgot armed robbery was a crime." With Sandy, it's "I inadvertently stole classified documents." That tack could work for anyone:
Jack the Ripper: I inadvertently disemboweled five prostitutes.
Ed Gein: I inadvertently made lampshades from the skin of a few women.
Aldrich Aames: I inadvertently sold America's secrets to the Ruskies.
Jeffrey Dahmer: I inadvertently cannibalized several men.
Saddam Hussein: I inadvertently gassed thousands of Kurds.
Well, in that case, it's ok. Now you kids run along and play nice!
There was nothing inadvertent about what Sandy Berger did that day at the National Archives. He stole several classified documents and destroyed some of them. Something in those Clinton-era terrorism documents was so explosive that Berger was willing to risk something akin to treason to destroy them.
The question is, who instructed Berger to do it. And you don't have to be Columbo to figure that one out.
Morally, there's no difference between what Berger has done (destroying classified documents) and what Aldrich Aames did (selling classified information to the Soviets.) In each case, the end result is the same: classified information is compromised and American lives are endangered.
Let's face it. If you or I walked into the National Archives and stole documents of any kind, we'd be in the hoosegow by now. Yet Sandy Berger, after all this time, is merely under investigation.
If Berger manages to get away with this, then take it as proof that there are two sets of legal standards in this country -- one for the ruling class and one for the ruled.
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