Berger: It’s All About the Socks

CNN – Colleagues defend Berger in documents probe (printer friendly)

Sources said that among the documents Berger took were drafts of a Clinton administration “after-action” report on efforts to thwart the so-called “millennium plot,” a suspected al Qaeda attack planned around the New Year’s holiday in 1999.


Law enforcement sources said archive staff told FBI agents they saw Berger placing items in his jacket and pants, and one archive staffer told agents that Berger also placed something in his socks.

That allegation drew sharp responses from two of Berger’s associates. President Clinton’s former spokesman, Joe Lockhart, said Berger “categorically denies that he ever took documents and stuffed them in his socks.”

“That is absurd,” said Lockhart, who is now advising Berger. “And anyone who says that is interested in something other than the truth.”

Former White House lawyer Lanny Davis challenged any unnamed official who accuses Berger of stuffing documents into his socks to come forward and level that charge publicly. “I suggest that person is lying,” he said. “And if that person has the guts, let’s see who it is who made the comment that Sandy Berger stuffed something into his socks.”

This is deja vu all over again: “It’s all about the socks.”

Now, Davis, the mastermind of the “it depends on what the meaning of is is” defense brings out an oldie but goodie from Bob Marley as reprised by Eric Clapton: “I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy.”

Berger and his attorney have already admitted that he intentionally stole classified documents (handwritten notes) and “inadvertantly” smuggled other classified documents in his pants. But, damn it, he did not put them in his socks.

Not in my socks.
Not with a fox.
Not in a house.
Not with a mouse.
I would not hide them
here or there.
I would not hide them anywhere.

Glad we have that cleared up.

Update (7/21 0950): Kevin Drum has an interesting take on this:

I can’t really think of anything else to say about this bizarre story except the obvious: what on God’s green earth was he thinking? Crikey.

Oh, and this: despite dark allegations that the investigation into Berger was leaked by Republicans to take attention off the upcoming 9/11 report, I think it must have actually been a Democrat who leaked it. Frankly, if I were a Republican, I would have waited until around the last week of October or so. My guess is that some sharp Democratic operative figured out that this wasn’t going to stay a secret forever and decided (correctly) that it was better to get it into the open now rather than later.

Matt Yglesias doesn’t insinuate they had something to do with it, but note that Richard Holbrooke and Joe Biden seem to be the beneficiaries.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Of course, the Republicans will try and make a wedgie issue out of national security over this.

  2. James Joyner says:


    Honestly, the reaction to this is stunning. Unless I’m missing something, this is a Berger-only problem. Kerry got rid of him, which is all one would expect. But Davis and the others give the impression that the Democrats aren’t serious about protecting classified docs. It’s amazing.