Not so well-done Berger

"Last year, when I was in the Archives reviewing documents, I made an honest mistake. It's one that I deeply regret. I dealt with this issue in October 2003 fully and completely. Everything that I have done all along in this process has been for the purpose of aiding and supporting the work of the 9/11 commission, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply, absolutely wrong."  Sandy Berger, July 2004

Oops.

As we all know by now, Sandy Berger, the former National Security Advisor in the Clinton Administration, was caught removing highly classified documents (known as an 'after—action review') from the National Archives pertaining to that Administration's handling of a suspected terrorist plot at the turn of the millennium in 2000. Although Berger has never admitted any ulterior motive, only the most incredibly na´ve observer or rabidly partisan operative could possibly think that Berger's actions were not designed to cover some perceived embarrassing shortcoming in Clinton's handling of the terrorism threat.

As Byron York reported in National Review,

'In May [2004], a government official told National Review Online that the report contains a 'scathing indictment of the last administration's actions.' The source said the report portrayed the Clinton administration's actions as 'exactly how things shouldn't be run.' In addition, Clarke was highly critical of the handling of the millennium plot in his book, Against All Enemies.'

The legal details are being played out now, as Berger has finally recanted his 'honest mistake' fairytale and admitted guilt in the face of irrefutable evidence. He'll get no jail time, but he'll lose his security clearance for a few years and pay a token fine, along with pledging to assist in any ongoing investigation. Pretty tame stuff considering the gravity of the transgression as it concerns the country's defensive posture against the ongoing threat of terrorism.

What's fascinating, as always, is the media reaction to this development, and the Democrats' self—incriminating silence on the entire matter. It's important to remember that last summer, when this whole imbroglio was unfolding, the Democrats, especially Candidate Kerry and former President Clinton, were quick to ascribe villainous motives to the Republicans. Kerry, bristling with the righteous indignation of someone clearly on the wrong side of an issue, fired off a letter in the summer of 2004 on the matter entitled 'Cheney Strikes back?' raising questions about whether Vice President Dick Cheney and Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie had somehow leaked the entire subject of Berger's investigation, intimating that the whole fandango was nothing more than political sleight—of—hand and an attempt to smear the Kerry campaign.

Nevertheless, Berger, who at the time was functioning as a key Kerry campaign advisor, was forced to step aside. In a prepared statement, Kerry said,

"Sandy Berger is my friend, and he has tirelessly served this nation with honor and distinction. I respect his decision to step aside as an adviser to this campaign until this matter is resolved objectively and fairly."

Well, now the matter has been 'resolved objectively and fairly." Berger has admitted his guilt. Will the Junior Senator from Massachusetts now admit that his letter and press statement defending Berger and attacking the Bush campaign were based on false premises? Will he come forth publicly and set the record straight? Will anyone from the mainstream media call him on it?

One can only imagine if the situation were reversed and a Republican official had been caught red—handed as Berger was. If Condi Rice had stolen and destroyed classified documents in an obvious attempt to shield her political cronies from humiliation, the NPRs and Bob Schieffers and George Stephanopouloses of the world would be loudly trumpeting the news, over and over and over, for the 'good of the country.'

What makes this situation so different—and important—is that it is not merely the usual case of a politician lying about illegal campaign contributions or an embarrassing extramarital affair and then being defended by political allies. This was a case where a former National Security Advisor—the Government's highest official in 1999 when it came to protecting the country against terror attack—broke the law because his concern for political advantage outweighed his concern for the future safety of the country.

And even more tellingly, the leaders of his party and the mainstream media are apparently willing to let the whole matter pass with only the most cursory acknowledgment that it even happened in the first place. That really says it all.

"Last year, when I was in the Archives reviewing documents, I made an honest mistake. It's one that I deeply regret. I dealt with this issue in October 2003 fully and completely. Everything that I have done all along in this process has been for the purpose of aiding and supporting the work of the 9/11 commission, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply, absolutely wrong."  Sandy Berger, July 2004

Oops.

As we all know by now, Sandy Berger, the former National Security Advisor in the Clinton Administration, was caught removing highly classified documents (known as an 'after—action review') from the National Archives pertaining to that Administration's handling of a suspected terrorist plot at the turn of the millennium in 2000. Although Berger has never admitted any ulterior motive, only the most incredibly na´ve observer or rabidly partisan operative could possibly think that Berger's actions were not designed to cover some perceived embarrassing shortcoming in Clinton's handling of the terrorism threat.

As Byron York reported in National Review,

'In May [2004], a government official told National Review Online that the report contains a 'scathing indictment of the last administration's actions.' The source said the report portrayed the Clinton administration's actions as 'exactly how things shouldn't be run.' In addition, Clarke was highly critical of the handling of the millennium plot in his book, Against All Enemies.'

The legal details are being played out now, as Berger has finally recanted his 'honest mistake' fairytale and admitted guilt in the face of irrefutable evidence. He'll get no jail time, but he'll lose his security clearance for a few years and pay a token fine, along with pledging to assist in any ongoing investigation. Pretty tame stuff considering the gravity of the transgression as it concerns the country's defensive posture against the ongoing threat of terrorism.

What's fascinating, as always, is the media reaction to this development, and the Democrats' self—incriminating silence on the entire matter. It's important to remember that last summer, when this whole imbroglio was unfolding, the Democrats, especially Candidate Kerry and former President Clinton, were quick to ascribe villainous motives to the Republicans. Kerry, bristling with the righteous indignation of someone clearly on the wrong side of an issue, fired off a letter in the summer of 2004 on the matter entitled 'Cheney Strikes back?' raising questions about whether Vice President Dick Cheney and Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie had somehow leaked the entire subject of Berger's investigation, intimating that the whole fandango was nothing more than political sleight—of—hand and an attempt to smear the Kerry campaign.

Nevertheless, Berger, who at the time was functioning as a key Kerry campaign advisor, was forced to step aside. In a prepared statement, Kerry said,

"Sandy Berger is my friend, and he has tirelessly served this nation with honor and distinction. I respect his decision to step aside as an adviser to this campaign until this matter is resolved objectively and fairly."

Well, now the matter has been 'resolved objectively and fairly." Berger has admitted his guilt. Will the Junior Senator from Massachusetts now admit that his letter and press statement defending Berger and attacking the Bush campaign were based on false premises? Will he come forth publicly and set the record straight? Will anyone from the mainstream media call him on it?

One can only imagine if the situation were reversed and a Republican official had been caught red—handed as Berger was. If Condi Rice had stolen and destroyed classified documents in an obvious attempt to shield her political cronies from humiliation, the NPRs and Bob Schieffers and George Stephanopouloses of the world would be loudly trumpeting the news, over and over and over, for the 'good of the country.'

What makes this situation so different—and important—is that it is not merely the usual case of a politician lying about illegal campaign contributions or an embarrassing extramarital affair and then being defended by political allies. This was a case where a former National Security Advisor—the Government's highest official in 1999 when it came to protecting the country against terror attack—broke the law because his concern for political advantage outweighed his concern for the future safety of the country.

And even more tellingly, the leaders of his party and the mainstream media are apparently willing to let the whole matter pass with only the most cursory acknowledgment that it even happened in the first place. That really says it all.