Here’s the lede to the New York Times article on the Sandy Berger case:
Samuel R. Berger, a national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanors charge and give up his security clearance for three years for removing classified material from a government archive, the Justice Department and associates of Mr. Berger’s said Thursday.
Here’s the 6th graph:
When the issue surfaced last year, Mr. Berger insisted that he had removed the classified material inadvertently. But in the plea agreement reached with prosecutors, he is expected to admit that he intentionally removed copies of five classified documents, destroyed three and misled staff members at the National Archives when confronted about it, according to an associate of Mr. Berger’s who is involved in his defense but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plea has not been formalized in court.
I hope tomorrow’s story gets the important details in the lede.
This scandal — described in the Times as an “embarrassing episode” — is clearly a case of CYA. Berger absconded with documents that must have proved embarrassing to the Clinton administration; no other explanation makes sense.
In the penultimate graph we’re told that some of the documents he stole from the archives “were essentially the same, and he cut three copies into small pieces.” He stole classified documents from the federal government and destroyed them. I wonder what they said?
The Times reports: “Officials with the Archives and the Sept. 11 commission ultimately determined that despite the incident, the commission had access to all the material needed in its work.” If the destroyed documents were not exact duplicates, how could these officials possibly know that they weren’t important? What was the nature of the relationship between these officials and Berger? I’m sure they all knew him; he was the former U.S. National Security Adviser after all. Are they just covering for him?
Most importantly, where’s the skepticism from our normally skeptical press? Why do unimportant bloggers have to ask these questions?
Imagine for a moment that Donald Rumsfeld stole and destroyed classified documents related to the Abu Ghraib scandal. Would the major media outlets be more interested in that story than they appear to be in the Sandy Berger case?
Powerline sums it up: “Former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger got away with a criminal cover-up.”