Bob T. Is Madder Than Hell

Gonna be hard at work today tying together loose ends of the City vs. City Smackdown (for more info click here) but in the meantime, enjoy Bob T.’s latest piece, this one on Clinton ally Sandy Berger.

In my last column, I discussed the Valerie Plame affair — a non-crime that the Democrats, assisted by the mainstream media (MSM), hysterically elevated to the status of a major scandal. In this column, I’m going to address a scandal that involved real criminal acts that the MSM chose to almost totally ignore. I’m referring to Sandy Berger and his theft of classified documents from the National Archives.

Now I’m willing to bet that a large majority of the people reading this column know little or nothing about the Berger scandal. I have brought the subject up on a number of occasions with friends and barroom colleagues, and they have always drawn a blank in these discussions. No one I’ve spoken with has ever known anything about the scandal. And why should they? They have made the mistake of relying on the MSM for information. They therefore know what the MSM wants them to know, and they have little or no knowledge on those subjects of which the MSM would prefer that they remain blissfully ignorant. And the outrageous conduct of Sandy Berger in the National Archives is a subject on which the MSM seems to have decided that people should remain uninformed.

Samuel R. (Sandy) Berger, aka Sandy “Socks and Shorts” Berger, is a long-time soldier in the Clinton crime family, who served as Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor during the period 1997 to 2001. Called to testify before the 9/11 Commission and acting on a letter of delegation from Clinton, Berger made four trips to the National Archives in 2003 to review various highly classified documents in preparation for his testimony. Security requirements on such documents mandate that they not be copied and that they are not to be removed from the archives. Security is so tight that any handwritten notes made by a person reviewing these documents have to pass a separate security review prior to removal from the archives. The reviewer is under constant observation by the archival staff.

Whatever his other qualifications for inclusion in the Clintons’ inner circle may be, Sandy seems to have been a rather inept thief. His behavior soon attracted the suspicions of the staff. He was reportedly observed secreting documents in both his pants and his socks. He made a noticeably large number of trips to the men’s room. He made a number of requests that he be left alone, supposedly to make highly confidential phone calls — requests that were apparently granted. On one occasion, he was observed leaving the building and then hiding papers under a trailer at a nearby construction site, presumably for later pickup. Because of their mounting suspicions, officials at the archives arranged a sting operation by numbering various documents and basically caught poor Sandy red-handed.

When confronted by investigators, Berger resorted to the traditional first line of defense of the Clinton crime family — the bare-faced lie. He claimed that he had inadvertently removed the classified documents because he had mixed them with his own papers. When this absurd explanation collapsed, Berger changed his story and claimed that he had removed them for personal “convenience” in reviewing the documents. They were “over-classified,” Berger explained. (Well, hell, that’s all right then. The rules certainly don’t apply to you, Mr. Berger.) Unfortunately for Sandy, this excuse also fell apart because the investigators found that on two separate occasions Berger had removed a total of five copies of the same document. (To be perfectly accurate, the five copies were different draft versions of the same document, so there were some variations in the text.) During the subsequent investigation, Berger returned two of the draft copies of this document and was forced by the investigators to admit that he had destroyed the other three copies. (Presumably, he destroyed them for personal “convenience.”) The five-time pilfered document was, in fact, an “after-action report” on the government’s handling of the millennium bombing plot. This document was reportedly sharply critical of the anti-terrorism efforts of the Clinton administration. Whatever was in this report, Berger was hell-bent on trying to prevent it from falling into the hands of the 9/11 Commission. Sandy Berger, Ivy League-educated lawyer and former National Security advisor, was so concerned about the contents of this document that he was willing to risk committing about half a dozen felonies, give or take, to attempt to remove every copy he could get his hands on from the National Archives.

A common misconception about the National Archives is that every document it possesses has been copied and entered into a database. Not true. In fact, the investigation revealed that during his first two visits to the archives, and apparently before his bizarre behavior had raised too many red flags, Berger very definitely had access to various National Security Council papers not yet inventoried by the archives. The staff member at the archives who provided Berger with these papers later stated that it was impossible to know whether Berger stole and destroyed other classified documents. During the Department of Justice investigation of his crimes, Berger assured the investigators that he had not stolen any other documents than the ones that he had actually been caught stealing. Well, that’s all right then, isn’t it? We all know that if a Clinton or one of their close associates assures us that he’s telling the truth, then you can pretty much take that to the bank. Berger, however, initially lied and assured the investigators that the whole thing was just an innocent mistake. Then he retreated to the position that he had removed the documents for his personal “convenience.” Although “convenience” does not explain the subsequent destruction of various documents, Sandy dug in his heels and to this day has never wavered from this fairy tale. This particular tactic is called “stonewalling,” and is the favored second line of defense of the Clinton crime family. They’ve had a lot of experience with this sort of thing, and, at this point, they all know the drill. Since Berger, however, has demonstrated that he is a liar as well as a thief, should we really trust him in this matter? I think not. “Omerta” is apparently a highly prized virtue in the Clinton crime family.

The story that Sandy Berger was under investigation by the FBI for the theft and destruction of classified documents hit the news in July 2004 during the presidential campaign. At that time Berger was serving as a consultant to the Kerry campaign — a consultant on national security, of course. What else? The manner in which the story was handled by the MSM provides an excellent example of their rather selective sense of outrage when dealing with a scandal involving Democrats as opposed to one featuring Republicans. The New York Times buried the story concerning the actual details of the investigation in its inner pages. The Times’ front page story on the scandal was an article concerning the unsubstantiated charge that Republican operatives had cynically leaked the story to influence the coming election. Dan Rather at CBS reported the story with a similar emphasis. So with just a little bit of spin, a story on the criminal activity of a former high official in the Clinton administration was transformed into a tale of Republican perfidy. No evidence was provided for this allegation against the Republicans at the time, and none would emerge later, but no retractions, corrections, or apologies were ever issued by the Times or by CBS. Being the MSM means never having to say you’re sorry. And just a passing thought here: if you were really planning to leak something to damage your opponent’s campaign, wouldn’t it make more sense to wait until late October or early November for maximum effect? You know, like the Gore campaign did when it leaked stories about a decades-old DUI charge involving Bush several days before the 2000 election.

Not unsurprisingly, Berger was quickly booted off the Kerry campaign staff. The Democrats and their sympathizers in the MSM went on full damage control alert. In general, the Berger scandal was to receive very scant attention in the MSM, unlike the saturation coverage afforded the more gratifying Plame affair which was running concurrently. The only sustained attention the Berger scandal received came principally from the more conservative media, e.g., The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, conservative talk radio, and similar sources — the sort of sources that liberals and Democrats charge with “bias.” Their “bias” apparently consists of an eccentric belief that the job of the news media is to report the news, rather than do damage control and serve as water-carriers for the Democratic party, as well as the Clintons.

Anyway, loyal readers — and you must be loyal because you’ve read this far, haven’t you? I have to pose some questions here. Do you really thinkthat if a high-ranking Republican official, acting on a delegation from the president, as Sandy Berger was acting on a delegation from former president Bill Clinton, had stolen highly classified documents from the National Archives and had subsequently destroyed several of these highly classified documents, that the MSM would not have gone totally berserk with the story? If a Republican official had stolen and destroyed highly classified documents with the obvious intent of preventing the 9/11 Commission from examining those documents, and with the intent of subverting the historical record, would the MSM have all but ignored the story? (And make no mistake about it, that is precisely what Sandy Berger was doing — attempting to cleanse the historical record of “embarrassing” documentation. I am open to any suggestions of what other credible explanation there could be for his actions.) If this scandal had involved a Republican, there would have been a media firestorm. The story would have been regularly reported on the front pages of the New York Times and been featured on network news for months. Newsweek and Time would have done cover stories. And I would also note, that during the Plame affair, questions were immediately raised about the possible involvement of higher-ups, and fingers were quickly pointed at Rove, Cheney, and President Bush. But with the Berger scandal, the MSM did no such speculation or finger-pointing and saw no reason to attempt to connect any dots, dots that might have connected with, say, maybe Bill Clinton. No, they very definitely weren’t going to go there.

The Berger scandal, however, involved a Democrat, so many people have never even heard of it. But everyone seems to be familiar with the Plame affair. So maybe you should ask yourself, loyal reader, if there isn’t perhaps some truth to those conservative charges that the MSM slant the news. They emphasize certain stories that comfortably fit their agenda, and distort or ignore stories that don’t. In short, they go in for what is called propaganda. If you consider yourself a Democrat, maybe you should take a step back from your reflexive partisanship, and ask yourself why you know all about the fairy tale of how the Bush administration supposedly abused their power by trying to screw over Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson, but know next to nothing about the very real story of Sandy Berger and his fun and games at the National Archives.

So what was the legal outcome of the Berger case? Well, after a lengthy investigation — all but ignored by the MSM, of course — Berger cut a deal, and was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to two years probation and two hundred hours of community service, and his security clearance was revoked for three years. (Why not for the rest of his life, one might ask.) He was also fined $50,000. The original fine recommended by the prosecutors was $10,000, but the judge in the case was so irate at the light sentence recommended for Berger that she raised the fine to $50,000. Berger received no jail time for his crimes. If the prosecutors had perhaps raised the possibility of some time in a federal penitentiary, one wonders if Sandy might not have been a little more forthcoming during the investigation. After all, that sort of pressure seems to work well in cases involving other crime families.

In June 2007, Berger submitted to voluntary disbarment rather than fight the action to revoke his license to practice law because of his conviction. Berger explained at the time that he had hadn’t actively practiced law in years and had no plans to do so in the future, and blah blah blah. Cynics noted that his voluntary acceptance of disbarment also had the effect of preventing any cross-examination concerning his explanation of his peculiar activities at the National Archives. (At least Berger spared us the usual nonsense about wanting to spend more time with his family.)

And what is Sandy Berger doing with his time these days? Well, he’s resurfaced as an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He’s advising Senator Clinton on National Security. National Security, as we know, is Sandy’s area of expertise. If Hillary is elected in 2008, expect to see Sandy appointed to a high level position. The revocation of his security clearance will have passed by then. The Clinton crime family takes care of its loyal soldiers.

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