Saturday, April 2


Whether Sandy Berger had served a Republican administration, as its top national security advisor, or a Democratic administration -- that of former President Clinton's -- as he did, the crime and deception he perpetrated in purposefully removing classified documents from the National Archives, destroying certain copies with scissors, and subsequently first denying outright the charges leveled against him, are an outrage, as is the plea bargain deal the Justice Department negotiated with him. Neither justice nor national security interests has been served and the entire disposition of this case smacks of a crass political deal. It makes one wonder what the political quid pro quo was for Mr. Berger to go quietly into the night with but a mere wrist slap. What were the IOUs he was able to call in and who owed him? The whole affair leaves the pungent smell of an "insider deal" that wafts through the ranks of republicans and democrats alike. Berger's crime was no mere misjudgement -- not by a man of his background and former rank. It was a stealth theft gone awry and his egregious conduct had everything to do with his preparation for testifying before a "9/11" commission inquiry. Kevin Drum's reaction is typical of the Left: "What was he (Berger) thinking?"

Well, Kevin, he was thinking: "How do I get these documents out of here clandestinely, so that I can destroy them?" "Bizzare" -- yes! "Inexplicable" -- hardly! He went to the Archives to either find certain classified documents that concerned him or to pour through classified documents to determine whether any should. Pure and simple.

No, when all was said and done, Sandy Berger's was not "an honest" or "inadvertent" mistake, as he claimed at the time. You don't just inadvertently stuff your clothing and briefcase full of classified documents, secret them away from the National Archives, and then take scissors to some of them. A small crime and misdemeanor this was not, no matter how the Justice Department rehearsed the choreography.

More than just a bit ironic, isn't it, that the denouement of the Sandy Berger case came at the height of worldwide press coverage of Terri Schiavo's court-ordered death and this weekend's death vigil for Pope John Paul II, as if the Justice Department could bring the taint of what they've done in under the radar.

If something was once rotten in Denmark, it most assuredly stinks to high heaven now in Washington D.C.