What Law Did Sandy Berger Break?
Even if the story is exactly as Sandy Berger and his attorneys describe it–the documents accidentally fell into his pants and so forth–it’s rather apparent that he broke the law. This law: TITLE 18 , PART I , CHAPTER 37 , Sec. 791., Sec. 793.
Glenn Reynolds, who teaches National Security Law but admits not being an expert on this precise issue, has more. His summation:
[T]he decision to charge someone, even someone admittedly guilty, is always a matter of discretion, and criminal charges against a former National Security Adviser are a rather big deal. It’s easy to understand why the Justice Department might be reluctant to bring such charges even if it’s satisfied that all the elements of the crime are present.
Quite true. I’d like to get a better explanation of exactly what Berger was trying to accomplish and let this one percolate a bit more before deciding what punishment, if any, is appropriate. Berger gave many years in the public service and, so far as I’m aware, this is the first time he’s even been accused of anything remotely sinister. Even aside from the baffling issue of why, I would be interested in knowing–if it’s knowable–what harm Berger’s theft caused.
There has to be a consequence for this type of behavior, though. If a former National Security Advisor– invested with so must trust that it never even occurs to anyone that he needs to be monitored while in a room with highly classified material–can plead “oops” on something so blatant, I don’t know how we can ever hold a soldier accountable again.