Glenn Reynolds has more on former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger’s guilty plea over stealing documents from the National Archives. He quotes The Washington Post‘s story on the sordid affair.
The terms of Berger’s agreement required him to acknowledge to the Justice Department the circumstances of the episode. Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business.
The document, written by former National Security Council terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke, was an “after-action review” prepared in early 2000 detailing the administration’s actions to thwart terrorist attacks during the millennium celebration. It contained considerable discussion about the administration’s awareness of the rising threat of attacks on U.S. soil. . . .
Berger’s archives visit occurred as he was reviewing materials as a designated representative of the Clinton administration to the national commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The question of what Clinton knew and did about the emerging al Qaeda threat before leaving office in January 2001 was acutely sensitive, as suggested by Berger’s determination to spend hours poring over the Clarke report before his testimony.
So here we have a former National Security Advisor stealing classified documents related to a major government investigation and shredding them to protect his former boss. If a Republican had done something like this, the press would be demanding his head on a platter — but when a Clinton-era official does it, off to the memory hole it goes.
Berger deserves to get the book thrown at him for this kind of absolutely irresponsible behavior — yet all he’s getting is a slap on the wrist. One would think that a former National Security Advisor would have more respect for the law and for ensuring that classified documents aren’t lost, stolen, or destroyed. Then again, perhaps given the tenor of his former workplace, that’s asking too much.