National Archives Needs New Guards

Kevin Drum, reacting to WaPo’s report “Archives Staff Was Suspicious of Berger,” correctly sums up the issue:

Let me get this straight: (a) he had already been caught removing documents on a previous visit, (b) Archives employees set up a special coding system for his second visit, (c) they were watching him like a hawk the whole time — and he must have known it since they had caught him once before, (d) they saw him taking dozens of pages of notes and didn’t stop him, (e) they saw him put those notes into his pockets, and (f) they must have also seen him put some documents in his portfolio as well.

But they let him walk out the door without challenging him. Why?

Agreed. As I noted yesterday, “A former NSA is entitled to be treated as if above suspicion. Until he’s not.” Clearly, once (a) above occured, the rest of the sequence should have proceeded differently. If they caught him with classified docs outside the room, the cuffs should have gone on, big shot or no.

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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 and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    It is odd and I’m sure their procedures will be up for review after this –government is good at nothing if not closing barn doors after cows get out– but apparently this is when they called the FBI.

    That might not be the policy of the future but it is not unreasonable.

  2. Paul says:

    James I hope you deleted that other comment cuz if not, I’m going nutz.

  3. Attila Girl says:

    It seems especially problematic, because once he got home he “accidentally” destroyed a draft or two of Clarke’s report.

  4. Mike says:

    I understand the problem that was facing the NA employees – they have a powerful and influential person who knows lots of powerful and influential people pilfering documents. How to bust him without getting themselves skinned alive by the powers that be? Dilemmas are not fun.

    They finally did what they had to do and call it in (probably because if they didn’t and that became known they would have been deep-fat-fried faster than a corn dog), but the dithering was inexcusable. Understandable, yes; excusable, no. They had to grab that courage and go for it and they hesitated. Now we all pay.

  5. Maybe they were so awestruck by his audacity that they were rendered immobile until after he was gone.

  6. Attila Girl says:

    I imagine the first time it was a case of “did I see what I think I just saw?” That’s when they started marking his copies of the documents, and keeping exact track of what he was looking at, so they would know for sure the second time.