Sandy Berger and the Pants of Obstruction

I waited until April 2nd so people wouldn't think I was posting an April Fools.

Sandy Berger is finally pleading guilty to a lesser charge over the events where he stole classified documents from the National Archives and destroyed them. Not only was it deliberate that he took the documents in question—he hid them in his pants—but that he later destroyed three earlier drafts of intelligence documents related to a plot to bomb the LAX airport during the millennium celebrations.

Originally, Berger was only accessing the documents in order to refresh his memory before testifying to the 9/11 Commission. Supposedly he had only mistakenly taken the classified documents home and shredded them. The big stink over this theft and destruction of evidence comes from the fact that various administration officials had written notes in the margins of the intelligence memo drafts in question. They might have been extremely important evidence concerning the thinking of anti-terror officials during the Clinton administration. Now we'll never know.

Fox News has a source that apparently saw what was in those documents.

One source told FOX News that the report was critical of how the Clinton administration handled Al Qaeda threats to the U.S. homeland and that the missing report made security recommendations that were never implemented.

That particular information was buried at the bottom of the Fox News story. I suspect they don't consider that information very credible.

Back to the plea bargain. It's an good tactic to plead guilty to a minor offense than to face Contempt of Congress and Obstruction of Justice. Obstruction of Justice is a felony for little people like you and me. Only Bill Clinton can get away with it under full public scrutiny. Sandy Berger is able to borrow some of the teflon to get a plea bargain down to a misdemeanor and a fine:

The charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
However, under a plea agreement that Robinson must accept, instead of jail, Berger would pay a $10,000 fine, surrender his security clearance for three years and cooperate with investigators.

It's not just the memo drafts that were taken by the way, but also personal notes.

“In his plea, Berger also admitted that he concealed and removed his handwritten notes from the Archives prior to a classification review, in violation of Archives rules and procedures,” reads the DOJ statement. “Those notes have been returned to the government.”

At least the notes were returned. I think that removing his notes from the archives (notes about classified material, after all, become classified themselves) might qualify as a misdemeanor, but facilitating the misrepresentation of the Clinton administration as hard on terror is the felonious crime here.

Josh Poulson

Posted Saturday, Apr 2 2005 09:42 AM

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There are 3 comments on this entry.

All this fretting over Sandy Berger.

Have you any reserved for Tom DeLay? Or what about the ridiculous federal legislative intervention in the Schiavo case?

Or do you only get verklempt when it's the Dems? LOL


Posted Saturday, Apr 2 2005 05:08 PM

If you've read my comments on Schiavo, you'd know the answer to that. I pick on the GOP as well as the Democrats.

The Democrats earn more ire from me for endangering the lives of citizens by giving in to terrorism, though.

You know, if it turns out Berger did what he did at the urging of his old boss, then we'd have conspiracy, too, which is an added felony… and I don't put further felonies past his crooked mentor.

Josh Poulson

Posted Saturday, Apr 2 2005 07:23 PM

They shouldn't have let Berger off without prison time. Compared to what Berger did, Tom DeLay is in line for sainthood.


Posted Saturday, Apr 2 2005 08:27 PM

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