[Vision2020]Sandy Berger Exonerated

Tim Lohrmann timlohr at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 6 18:13:26 PDT 2004

Do you think that some of the suspicion could have arisen from the fact that Mr. Berger admitted himself that he took documents from the archives?  

Just his removal of the documents, negligently or not. is likely a violation of the law.  And having done so during an investigation of how the Clinton's handled terrorist intelligence is pretty crazy, you've got to admit. 

Do you honestly think the press would've given Condi Rice a pass if she had said she "inadvertently" took the documents.

 I doubt it, we'd probably have a new feature length documentary built around just that. 



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Sandy Berger admits taking classified documents from National Archives

Aired July 20, 2004 - 14:00   ET


PHILLIPS: Live from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where President Bush takes his campaign to the heartland. We'll bring you some of his speech straight ahead. A former national security advisor says it was a mistake. Sources say he stuffed secret documents in his socks. We've got the details. Can the IRS keep a secret? A new report raises questions about your personal info at risk of going public.
>From the CNN Center in Atlanta, hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips. This hour of CNN's LIVE FROM starts right now. We begin this hour with the secret files and the public flack, and the former national security adviser at the heart of it. Sandy Berger admits that he took some handwritten notes and classified documents from the National Archives while doing research on the Clinton era for the panel investigating September 11.

Well, those papers are tightly protected by law. But Berger insists his violation was accidental and inconsequential to the commission. Among papers still unaccounted for, a draft report on the thwarted millennium bombing written by ex-counter-terrorism chief Richard Clark. Berger's defenders wonder how this came to light now.

LANNY DAVIS, EX-WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL COUNSEL: This highest classified document that was penned by Mr. Clark was widely circulated in the government, and since been widely reported on, and was not revealing any of the nation's secrets. So while we can use language like "highly classified," and we have some anonymous government source talking to the media about this on the day of the announcement of the 9/11 Commission, the FBI's been at this since last January. This seems very suspicious to me.


PHILLIPS: Well, speaking for himself, Berger says, quote, "I inadvertently took a few documents from the archives. I also took my notes on the documents reviewed. When I was informed by the archives there were documents missing, I immediately returned everything I had, except for a few documents that, apparently, I had accidentally discarded."

Well, if you think that's the end of it, you've forgotten this is an election year. And Sandy Berger is an informal advisor to the Kerry campaign. Joining me to factor in the politics of the Berger blunder, "CROSSFIRE" co-host, longtime political columnist, Bob Novak. Bob, if we were to define "informal advisor," does that mean non-paid?

ROBERT NOVAK, COHOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": Yes, I would think so. But this is a very serious situation, Kyra, whether it's the coincidental timing, with the release of the 9/11 Commission report, makes it political or not. There seems to be no dispute, even by Mr. Berger, that what he did, that he took these very highly classified documents -- he was seen putting them in his pants, in his coat, and took them away from the place.

And either he really has lost it, because he was a very highly respected official who knows how to handle classified material, or he was trying to do away with some of this material. And what is incriminating is that, apparently, some of these documents have not been returned. They are missing.

PHILLIPS: Bob, is this out of character for Sandy Berger? This is someone with a great amount of integrity.

NOVAK: Absolutely. It's out of character from the standpoint of integrity, if this was a dastardly act, or it's out of character on the standpoint of just incompetent sloppiness, because he surely should have known that his colleague in the first term of the Clinton administration, the CIA director, John Deutsche, was fired and really unceremoniously drummed out of the government for taking home a computer from his home office with classified material.

That is a no-no. And, of course, he knows. That's why this is such a puzzling thing. And it's very difficult to say, OK, it was a matter of sloppiness, we're all sloppy at times. But there has to be a better explanation than that, I believe.

PHILLIPS: Well, Bob, a former Clinton administrative colleague coming forward saying this information's been kept confidential for months, so why is it coming out now? Also, the source saying he stuck these documents in his socks -- this person is not coming forward and giving a name. I mean, does it seem suspicious to you at all?

NOVAK: Well, the first thing is, putting it in the sock, I don't know if that has ever been substantiated as a rumor. What, apparently, officials say that they saw -- they saw him putting it in his coat pocket and his coat -- in his pants pocket and his coat. That's very, very odd to put material that way instead of in a briefcase.

As far as it's coming out now, that is the spin by Mr. Berger's defenders, that "why is it coming out now?" And it is suspicious it's coming out now. But even though it may be political and unfriendly to do so, you still have to look at the facts and say, is this what he did? And whether it comes out now or comes out nine months ago, if you had a criminal investigation, what is the state of that investigation? And some answers are really needed.

PHILLIPS: All right, so Bob, let's say this did happen, OK. Let's say he took these documents -- documents here that a source is saying were drafts of a Clinton administration after-action report on efforts to thwart the millennium plot, a suspected Al Qaeda attack, around the New Year's holiday in late 1999. Why would he want to keep these?

NOVAK: I have no idea. That's all speculation. These are supposed to be secret codeword documents. Kyra, I was in security in the Army as an officer. I'd hate to tell you this -- about a half a century ago, and secret codeword was something all our knees shook and trembled at. I had a top-secret clearance, and I never got near any secret codeword material.

This is the real hot stuff. I don't know what's in it. And maybe we should never know what's in it. But I think what the public deserves to know is whether or not this was just sloppiness, as Mr. Berger says, or he was trying to get rid of some documents, in which case, that's a criminal act.

Tbertruss at aol.com wrote:

Recently, former Clinton administration National Security advisor Sandy Berger was being lambasted in the media, accused of what amounted to theft of sensitive documents.  His name was being dragged through the mud all over the media, no doubt about it.

Today on the Diane Reems show on NPR the Wall Street Journal article just out that reveals that former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger has been cleared of wrong doing regarding improperly handled documents was discussed.  Several members of news organizations were interviewed, questioned regarding why this story that Berger has been cleared of any misconduct has received scant attention.

And we have a liberal bias in the media, so the conservative critics say?  Another Clinton associate gets plastered in huge headlines, then cleared of guilt in the back pages where only a few read.

Whatever sells the news: scandals, exciting; cleared of guilt, boring.

The profit motive when allowed to dominate as the sine qua non of the Fourth Estate is destroying democracy.

Ted Moffett _____________________________________________________
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