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Sandy Berger Hid Stolen Archive Documents

It appears that Sandy Berger’s crimes are more serious than initially reported.

Former national security adviser Sandy Berger removed classified documents from the National Archives in 2003 and hid them under a construction trailer, the Archives inspector general reported Wednesday. The report was issued more than a year after Berger pleaded guilty and received a criminal sentence for removal of the documents.

Inspector General Paul Brachfeld reported that when Berger was confronted by Archives officials about the missing documents, he said it was possible he threw them in his office trash. The report said that when Archives employees first suspected that Berger – who had been President Clinton’s national security adviser – was removing classified documents from the Archives in the fall of 2003, they failed to notify any law enforcement agency.

[...]

The report said that when Berger was reviewing the classified documents in the Archives building a few blocks from the Capitol, employees saw him bending down and fiddling with something white, which could have been paper, around his ankle. However, Archives employees did not feel at the time there was enough information to confront someone of Berger’s stature, the report said.

Brachfeld reported that on one visit, Berger took a break to go outside without an escort. “In total, during this visit, he removed four documents. Mr. Berger said he placed the documents under a trailer in an accessible construction area outside Archives 1 (the main Archives building).” Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.

Rather clearly, this wasn’t a spur-of-the moment decision on Berger’s part to snatch documents but rather a premeditated act. And it’s one for which any military or civil service employee would be in jail.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. [...] I always thought Berger’s sentence was way too light. This only confirms it, for it looks clear to me that what Berger did was premeditated. As James Joyner points out, if any military or civil service employee did the same crime they would be in jail. [...]

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  2. He belongs in jail…

    That is where Berger belongs also. Unfortunately we just one more exhibit in how screwed up the US justice system is….

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  3. Triumph says:

    Rather clearly, this wasn’t a spur-of-the moment decision on Berger’s part to snatch documents but rather a premeditated act.

    Berger is a complete scumbag and should be jailed.

    Remember, this is the same treasonous character who–along with Clinton–could have prevented 9/11. When he was National Security Advisor he had Bin Laden in his hands but called off the hunt when the CIA had the terrorist in his grasp.

    That first transgression was a harbinger for his shameful behavior at the National Archives.

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  4. Report says Berger hid archive documents

    President Clinton’s national security adviser removed classified documents from the National Archive…

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  5. Dave Schuler says:

    I’ve got to admit that this entire matter baffles me. Why did he do it? What was he trying to accomplish? Why was he let off with a wrist-slap?

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  6. LaurenceB says:

    I’m with Dave. I don’t understand the motivation or the wrist-slap. Bizarre.

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  7. Double jeopardy makes him safe as houses. He even admitted it was intentional when he plead guilty, so a perjury rap is going to be hard to pin on him.

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  8. legion says:

    Maybe… if this new stuff demonstrates some crime they didn’t throw at him in the earlier case, it could still go forward, but considering the wrist-slap earlier, it’s hard to imagine the political will to pursue it is there. I too don’t understand why he’s not in the slammer…

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  9. Mac says:

    What does this do to the integrity and credibility of the 911 Commissions report?? What a joke. If this was an average Intelligence analyst (except for maybe V Plamne/Wison) or someone else with access above secret, they would be in a federal prison for the rest of their life. He should have his clearance back in time for the 2008 presidential election.

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  10. Rly says:

    We all act on the sperm of the moment every once in a while. Not that Plame did ’cause those witches just drug you and steal it, so it was all planned.

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  11. SG says:

    Integrity of the 911 commission: Elvis’ piano, made in 1911, is on sale and they knew that guy was British and so did Larry.

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  12. Bandit says:

    Oh, that’s just Sandy, ha, ha, ha — didn’t surprise any of us, when we heard about it. You should have seen his desk at the White House! Sloppy Sandy — ethical as the day is long, though.

    WJC

    “He headed toward a construction area. . . . Mr. Berger looked up and down the street, up into the windows of the Archives and the DOJ (Department of Justice), and did not see anyone,” the interview notes said.

    He then slid the documents under a construction trailer, according to the inspector general. Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.

    “He was aware of the risk he was taking,” the inspector general’s notes said. Berger then returned to the Archives building without fearing the documents would slip out of his pockets or that staff would notice that his pockets were bulging.

    The notes said Berger had not been aware that Archives staff had been tracking the documents he was provided because of earlier suspicions from previous visits that he was removing materials.

    Ethical as the day is long

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  13. Dave Schuler says:

    Well, it is the winter solstice after all.

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  14. andrew says:

    The exact motivation will most likely never be known. The reason for the slap on the wrist is that he’s a Democrat. The Republican politicans are suckers and are lazy. They think that by going easy on him they will one day be granted leniency by the Dems/MSM if a Republican is caught in a similar situation. Of course that’s wrong. I’m not saying that the Republicans have to stoop to the level of the Dems/MSM, but at times they have to be as ruthless as them. One or two GOP Congressmen should have thrown a fit about this until the media gave it the attention it would have received if it had been done by a Republican.

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  15. Sandy Berger hid the documents he stole under…a…

    Sounds bizarre, right? At least, that’s where he says he hid them:…

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  16. A Justice Department lawyer said Berger didn’t prevent anyone from looking at any documents. This was a case of extreme arrogance. But don’t be surprised to see Berger in a future Democratic administration.

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  17. Patriotic American says:

    Thanks for letting us know about this. It must have been a lot of damaging evidence against Clinton. The FBI needs to follow up on it. Along with Hillary Clinton’s ex lawyer partner who allegedly committed suicide. Which was not true because of all the evidence to the contrary. Also has any one seen the names on the Clinton’s hit list who were killed when they were trying to investigate their financial and other ethics charges when Bill Clinton was in office.

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  18. Beldar says:

    I’m not at all sure this is a “Democrat vs. Republican” thing, or a “Conservative vs. Liberal” thing, but rather a “One of Us vs. Everyone Else” thing — in other words, special rules for career Beltway insiders.

    As to why: Cui bono? Anyone who could have been acutely embarrassed — not by the printed document texts, for there were duplicates of those, but by handwritten marginalia … doodles perhaps, but more likely statements of agreement, mockery, disagreement, who knows? And from the time frame of the documents he stole, some of which he admits to having destroyed, we can fairly infer that those who benefited from his acts were those in the Clinton Administration who wanted or needed to hide something at least dimly remembered as having been left in that marginalia that, post 9/11, wouldn’t look good. Either it was Berger own notes being trashed, or someone else’s, which is even scarier, because then by definition it’s someone who wanted it badly enough to enlist, [i]and[/i] had the clout to persuade, a top-level guy like Berger to commit obvious (and ham-handed) felonies to them.

    “I stuffed them down my pants” ain’t far from “The dog ate my homework,” but the ludicrous nature of the crime isn’t inconsistent with it being a very, very serious crime. Every righteous keeper of government secrets, military and civilian, is himself or herself betrayed by this travesty of a plea bargain and “sentence.”

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  19. The Sandy Berger Thought Experiment…

    Former National Security Advisor and current Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was accused of the theft and descruction of classified materials related to 9/11……

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