He belongs in jail
The latest Sandy Berger news.
On the evening of Oct. 2, 2003, former White House national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger stashed highly classified documents he had taken from the National Archives beneath a construction trailer at the corner of Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW so he could surreptitiously retrieve them later and take them to his office, according to a newly disclosed government investigation.I always thought Berger's sentence was way too light. This only confirms it, for it looks clear to me that what Berger did was premeditated. As James Joyner points out, if any military or civil service employee did the same crime they would be in jail.
The documents he took detailed how the Clinton administration had responded to the threat of terrorist attacks at the end of 1999. Berger removed a total of five copies of the same document without authorization and later used scissors to destroy three before placing them in his office trash, the National Archives inspector general concluded in a Nov. 4, 2005, report.
A federal judge in September 2005 ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine for his actions and forfeit his security clearance for three years.
After archives officials accused him of taking the documents, Berger told investigators, he "tried to find the trash collector but had no luck." But instead of admitting he had removed them deliberately -- by stuffing them in his suit pockets on multiple occasions -- Berger initially said he had removed them by mistake.
Berger made four visits to the Archives to inspect Clinton administration records in 2003. The inspector general's office attempted to retrieve the missing documents and probed how the archives handled each of his visits. In its report, the office criticized the fact that Berger was given special treatment and also said the archives' investigation of his actions was "improper" because the FBI and Justice Department were not promptly informed.
The report states that in 2003, an official whose name was deleted informed the White House that the documents Berger reviewed during his first two visits -- in May and June of that year -- were so poorly organized and tracked that the archives "would never know what if any original documents were missing." Berger has said he removed nothing during those visits, and a source close to him said last night that no one had accused him of doing so.
That is where Berger belongs also. Unfortunately we just one more exhibit in how screwed up the US justice system is.
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