[Vision2020] Re: Sandy Berger Exonerated(or not?)
rforce at moscow.com
Mon Aug 9 14:08:32 PDT 2004
Transcript from this morning's (August 9) Morning Edition below. Apparently,
he's not out of the woods yet.
Ron Force Moscow ID USA
Congress is on vacation, but the people left behind in Washington, DC,
are still talking about 9/11 hearings, terror alerts and Sandy Berger.
President Clinton's national security adviser acknowledges removing
classified records from the National Archives last year as he was preparing
to testify before the 9-11 Commission. No original documents are missing;
even so, Sandy Berger faces two probes for his actions, one of them
criminal. NPR's Libby Lewis reports.
LIBBY LEWIS reporting:
Sandy Berger may have violated several federal laws by taking from the
archives some drafts of a Clinton-era memo on national security that were
written for him and by taking and removing his own notes on classified
material. Berger has said his actions were inadvertent. Jonathan Turley of
George Washington University Law School says it would be surprising to see
Berger charged with a crime. That doesn't mean he won't be punished.
Mr. JONATHAN TURLEY (George Washington University Law School): These cases
tend to militate against criminal charges. If Berger's case follows the
trend, he won't be prosecuted, but there still remains a question as to
whether he will ever hold a clearance again.
LEWIS: Now what about the serious questions some Republican leaders raised
when the story broke? Did Sandy Berger try to hide or, worse, destroy
information about the Clinton administration's handling of terrorism? At the
time, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay suggested Berger's action might have
created a national security crisis. The Justice Department assured the 9-11
Commission that it saw every document Berger had access to in the archives
and that no original documents were missing. That's according to Al
Felzenberg, a spokesman for the 9-11 Commission. Susan Cooper of the
National Archives also confirmed to NPR that no original documents are
Even so, the House Government Reform Committee is keeping up its inquiry
of Berger's conduct. A spokesman for the committee, Robert White, said the
inquiry is important in light of the push to adopt the recommendations of
the 9-11 Commission. He said the panel also wants to look at questions of
security at the National Archives. He declined to speak on tape.
Now it appears the Justice Department is helping the House investigation
by making witnesses available. Witnesses are normally barred from talking
until a criminal probe is complete. On Friday, Democrat Henry Waxman wrote
Attorney General John Ashcroft to ask why the Justice Department had changed
its policy in this case. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
Berger's lawyer, Lanny Breuer, said he hopes it means the Justice
Department has decided not to pursue the criminal case, but he fears worse.
After all, he said, politics has already seeped in, and it was leaked to the
press at a critical time, days before the 9-11 Commission issued its report.
Breuer said it's clear Berger's actions did no damage to the 9/11
Mr. LANNY BREUER (Sandy Berger's Lawyer): It's hard for a fair-minded
person to conclude that there's any reason that the Sandy Berger matter is
now being looked at other than because of partisan concerns in an election
LEWIS: Republican House leaders deny Berger's party affiliation has
anything to do with its probe. In a letter to his Democratic colleague Henry
Waxman, Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis wrote, 'I don't care if it's
Sandy Berger or Warren Burger or veggie burger who walked off with code-word
documents. It's the walking off, the consequences of it, the fact that it
could happen that concern the committee.' Those partisan quips aside, Sandy
Berger's errors have left Berger disappointed and saddened, his lawyer says.
Libby Lewis, NPR News, Washington.
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