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A Sandy Burglar Comeback?

In a report on the efforts of Democratic presidential candidates to attract the "best and brightest" policy advisors for their campaigns, Newsweek columnist Michael Hirsh reports that former national security advisor and document pilferer Sandy Berger is one of the three foreign policy experts most relied upon by Senator Hillary Clinton in her White House bid. No word on whether he would have a White House position — or security clearance — in a potential Clinton Administration.

UPDATE: For prior Sandy Burglar posts, see here.

FURTHER UPDATE: Why do I find the report that Hillary Clinton is using Sandy Berger as one of her key foreign policy advisors so unnerving? Because it shows both poor judgment and a lack of regard for Berger's legal and ethical breaches. I also find it quite surprising. Hillary Clinton has impressed me as a Senator and as a candidate. Whatever her other faults, she is intelligent, savvy, disciplined, and determined; by far the most impressive candidate in the Democratic field. All this makes her apparent inclusion of Berger in her foreign policy "triumverate" all the more difficult to fathom.

For those who forget, Berger repeatedly stole and destroyed classified documents, resulting in the temporary loss of his security clearance. Berger has never provided a plausible explanation for his actions. By voluntarily giving up his law license, he avoided a cross-examination from bar counsel, so we still do not know precisely what he was doing and why. Indeed, the only assurance that Berger did not destroy unique copies of classified national security documents — such as copies of reports containing notations in the margins and the like — comes from Berger himself, something that the 9/11 Commission was not told when it was preparing its report (as I noted here).

In sum, I do not believe one needs to be an anti-Clinton partisan to find this report disturbing. Judging by the comments, it seems many many Democratic-leaning readers agree.

SECOND UPDATE: Lots more at BeldarBlog here.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Is Sandy Berger Back?
  2. A Sandy Burglar Comeback?
Anderson (mail):
Jokes aside, Berger did not seem to be a good influence on Clinton in the struggle with al-Qaeda (to judge by Steve Coll and Richard Clarke's books). Let's hope he stays marginal.
9.10.2007 10:51pm
Ugh (mail):
I'm impressed at how you can spell his last name two different ways in the same post. Really, the substance is overwhelming.
9.10.2007 10:56pm
Teh Anonymous:
Ugh - punning aside, I'd hold my nose and vote for her, but I really really dislike the thought of Berger having a position in her hypothetical administration. (I'm on the left, but I have doubts about the senator's electability, and other things.)
9.10.2007 11:00pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
No word. No question.
9.10.2007 11:05pm
uh_clem (mail):
Sandy Burglar - that's really really funny. Did you make it up yourself? 'cause I've never heard it before.
9.10.2007 11:07pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I think that the answer would be a quick pardon, which would presumably get Burglar his security clearance back. Besides, last time around, the Clinton White House seemed to just ignore the need for such at the top levels, with some appointees there operating for a year or so w/o.
9.10.2007 11:17pm
TyWebb:
Seriously, Prof. Adler--cheap rip. I expect this from Prof. Bernstein. Not from you.

Honestly, I don't particularly like Sandy Berger. It is likely that at least some of what was alleged is true. Having said that, EVERY administration has shady, behind the scenes people who would love to actually be in charge, but can't because the skeletons in their closet A) prevent the public from accepting them and B) actually make them more useful performing dirty deeds. This obsession with these characters from the Clinton years is sad. The nickname makes a respected member of the academy look like Michael Savage.

I'm going to have a tough time taking you seriously from now on.
9.10.2007 11:41pm
JonC:
I'm not entirely certain of how security clearance status is determined, but it seems to me that a pardon wouldn't even be necessary for Berger to regain his clearance. Under the terms of the fairly lenient plea deal he struck in 2005, Berger only had to forfeit his security clearance for 3 years-- plenty of time before the next administration takes office in Jan. 2009.
9.10.2007 11:42pm
Claude Dancer (mail):
TyWebb: I think most VC readers would have a hard time taking seriously anyone who got offended at such a great pun.
9.10.2007 11:46pm
Gaius Marius:
This clown is part of the reason why Bin Laden lived to pull off 9-11!
9.10.2007 11:47pm
Joe Jackson:
It is likely that at least some of what was alleged is true.

How strong are your partisan blinders? Regardless of the lenient terms of his plea, he publicly admitted to stealing and destroying the documents.
9.10.2007 11:56pm
A Berman (mail):
TyWebb,

Let's review what Sandy Berger did:

From Wikipedia:
On July 19, 2004, it was revealed that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating Berger for unlawfully stealing classified documents in October 2003, by removing them from a National Archives reading room prior to testifying before the 9/11 Commission. The documents were five classified copies of a single report commissioned from Richard Clarke, covering internal assessments of the Clinton administration's handling of the unsuccessful 2000 millennium attack plots.

When initially questioned by reporters, Berger claimed that the removal of the top-secret documents in his attache-case and handwritten notes in his jacket and pants pockets was accidental. He later, in a guilty plea, admitted to deliberately removing the copies and cutting three up with scissors. Archive staff stated they witnessed Berger, on more than one occasion, stuffing into his pants and into his jacket papers he was illegally removing. One witness saw Berger stuffing into his socks papers from the archives. [13] Two of the copies were recovered by DOJ investigators and returned to the archives.
...
a report issued by the archives inspector detailed how Berger had perpetrated the crime. Inspector General Paul Brachfeld reported that 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.[24][25]
----
9.11.2007 12:08am
Waldensian (mail):

I expect this from Prof. Bernstein.

And you might get something like this from Prof. B., too, if only Berger had stolen DC-area real estate.
9.11.2007 12:13am
Steve:
I'm curious where I should click to see the good professor's prior Eliott Abrams posts.
9.11.2007 12:13am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Berger's bad on the document episode and bad on the merits. Indeed, he was going around with Madeline Albright floating the Iraq War in 1998.

This seems to me to be one area where left and right can agree.
9.11.2007 12:26am
Anderson (mail):
Re: Sandy "Burglar," I gotta say:

Don't do the crime if you can't stand the rhyme.

That is all.
9.11.2007 1:03am
Cornellian (mail):
Wow, if ever you needed a reason not to vote for Hilary.....

And to think this follows a post about a group of people who put principle before party - the contrast is blinding.
9.11.2007 1:37am
TJIT (mail):
I think Waldensian and Anderson when the entertainment portion of the thread.
9.11.2007 1:46am
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Count me as a hundred times more concerned that Rudy Giuliani's principal foreign policy advisor is a complete nut, Norm Podhoretz, who among other things accuses Brent Scowcroft, an 80 year old, of opposing the Iraq war to advance his career. What an a--hole.
9.11.2007 2:06am
r78:
I guess Mr. Adler is just trying to tune up his sense of outrage at the crimes and misdemeanors of public officials, since he has not employed it much over the past 6 years of the current administration.
9.11.2007 2:21am
Kazinski:
I think Senator Clinton is in terms of policy and understanding the issues an outstanding candidate. But I think her employing Burger is just one more sign that the Circus is going to come back to town if she was elected. She seems to have a huge blind spot when it comes to ethical issues, starting with the payoff she took from Tyson disguised as Cattle futures profits, on to the billing records scandal, Whitewater, Travelgate, and then her brothers selling pardons in the last days of the Clinton adminstration. Like Grant she may herself be personally incorrupt, but she sets no standards for her cronies.

I might add that Brad Delong after serving her in the Health Care task force said that she her lack of executive management skills permanantly disqualified herself from any executive postion. I think she is pretty good Senator, even though I disagree with her on most policy positions.
9.11.2007 3:09am
NotAFan:
Obviously there's no reason to trust me on this (as I am nice and safely anonymous), but...

A good friend of mine worked at the white house during the Clinton administration. She had a fairly menial job, and answered certain phone lines as part of her responsibilities (basically as an operator). Sandy Berger was apparently INFAMOUS for completely losing his temper and screaming, etc at people--especially the "help." One time he was apparently left out of a meeting (or otherwise out of the loop on something--I forget the exact detail), called the white house, my friend answered, and he immediately starting screaming over the phone at her, swearing, etc. (over an issue she had absolutely noting to do with) My friend said she'd never heard anyone talk like that to another person her entire life...

Regardless of anything else about Berger, people who lose their temper like that, and ESPECIALLY those who take out their anger on subordinates, are deserving of very little respect, imho..
9.11.2007 4:10am
Mike S.:
If some midlevel defense worker had been caught stealing classified documents like that, or even just putting a copy in his briefcase to work on at home instead of in an approved facility, his clearance would certainly be terminated perminently, and his career at a complete end. The standard for high level advisors to the President should be at least as strict. And what value is advice from someone whose judgement has been proven so faulty, anyway?
9.11.2007 7:31am
Bottomfish (mail):
To Greedy Clerk:

That review of the books by Podhoretz and Ledeen was interesting, given that it's by Peter Beinart of the Council on Foreign Relations.

If you are a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign
Relations, part of your job is to make carefully nuanced distinctions between Moktada al-Sadr, Sunni militants, al Qaeda, and so on. But for all practical purposes, the differences don't mean that much. So Beinart complains that Podhoretz' Islamofascism goes largely undefined. "Podhoretz does call it a "monster with two heads, one religious and the other secular." But if fascism involves worship of the state, how exactly does the eligious "head" — Al Qaeda — qualify, given that Osama bin Laden sees the state as a pagan imposition threatening the unity of Islam?" But the point is that for all the extremists, the state is controlled by Islam, as Beinart surely knows. So there are really only two political domains, dar-al-Islam and dar-al-Harb.

The current situation in the West Bank and Gaza is an excellent illustration of what happens when we try to get too clever about these distinctions. Years back, we got the PLO to renounce the destruction of Israel. Now the international experts are trying to do the same with regard to Hamas.
9.11.2007 8:55am
GV:
Count me in among the many liberals who would oppose Buerger making a comeback in a new adminstration.

It's good to see that at least some conservatives are concerned again about employing criminals in the white house!
9.11.2007 9:26am
GV:
Not sure how that errant "u" made it into Berger's name.
9.11.2007 9:28am
Justin (mail):
Count me alongside the people who don't necessarily like Berger, am completely unimpressed with namecalling as discourse, and think that Berger for all his flaws is 100 times better than Podrhetz and Michael Leedan, who has now accused both Saddam Hussein *and* Iran of masterminding 9/11.
9.11.2007 10:09am
Happyshooter:
That is smart of Rodham.

The guy has been in the office before.

He also is so loyal that he will not only commit a crime for the family but he will clam up and take a conviction for them.
9.11.2007 10:32am
Hoosier:
Two points, that my liberal friends have somehow elided:

1) "Sandy Burglar" is really unavoidable given his actions. Just lighten up;

2) The question of the relative merits of Podhoretz/Ledeen versus Berger/Albright is a distraction from the issue of Berger's fitness for office, to the extent that there are other advisors for Democrats to choose. Now, I'm taking the liberty here of speaking for you Democratic VCers. But I bet you think that the Dem Party's foreign policy stable has more than one horse in it, right? So would-be Pres. Clinton is not obliged by necessity to rely on the advice of a shady character like Berger, is she?

The fine print: I am not a fan of Podhoretz. And Ledeed seems monomaniacal on Iran, advocating policies that would turn pro-American Iranian youths *against* the US. BUT . . . I'm unaware of any illegal actions of official malfeasance on their part.

Besides, if we are to rehablitate Democratic FoPo wonks who have done naughty things, please let's no make it Berger: He confused American security with American trade. And that was kinda bad for us. Why can't the Democrats rehabilitate Stephen Solarz, who actually was a capable FoPo thinker?
9.11.2007 10:32am
Hoosier:
"or official . . "
9.11.2007 10:33am
Justin (mail):
"Now, I'm taking the liberty here of speaking for you Democratic VCers."

Please don't. Really.
9.11.2007 10:52am
Bart (mail):
Why is it a surprise that the Clintons would rehire a incompetent felon to advise them on foreign policy? Berger performs where it counts for the Clintons - he cleans up their messes and takes the fall before the criminal court like a man.

Do you folks on the left really intend on voting for these people a third time? Apart from being corrupt as hell, the Clintons have sold you out in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Apart from her probable surrender in Iraq which will prolong the war with al Qaeda, this libertarian Elephant is not worried about a third Clinton presidency because she will follow the polls in what is essentially a center right country - just like her hubby. Nothing much will happen, which is fine by this libertarian.
9.11.2007 11:00am
Hoosier:
Justin--

So that's it? You respond to my post, and that's your reponse?
9.11.2007 11:05am
Shertaugh:
Kazinski said:

. . . I think her employing Burger is just one more sign that the Circus is going to come back to town if she was elected.


Just imagine how many rings the "circus" would have had the past 6 years if Fox News covered Bush the way it covered Clinton.

Clinton's circus would now seem like "Mouseville".
9.11.2007 11:22am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
FWIW, if Norman Podhoretz is truly a "senior" advisor to Rudy Giuliani on national security matters, that does not speak well of Giuliani's judgment.

JHA
9.11.2007 11:53am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Why the surprise. This is exactly how the Clintons have always behaved. They get an underling to commit felonies for their benefit (and in this case perhaps the for the benefit of the underling Berger as well), and then they pay that person off. Money, a job, continued relevance, etc. these are all the payoffs to Berger. If they don't pay him off for his crime he might actually tell the truth.

This whole Berger thing is not just an example of what's wrong with the Clintons (actually just a reminder more than an example). Its also a vivid demostration of what is wrong with the entire DOJ, especially the career prosecutor bureaucracy, that Orin loves and respects so much. They gave Berger an unbelievable sweetheart deal on his crimes, and then didn't even bother to enforce parts of that sweatheart deal (such as Berger being required as part of the deal to take a lie detector test about the documents he stole and destroyed. Something the incompetent DOJ permanent career class have failed to this day to do).

Says the "Dog"
9.11.2007 11:57am
Thales (mail) (www):
Bart raises an interesting point, if laced with unnecessary invective: Why would anyone left of center support another Clinton white house run, except perhaps that she has the strongest chance of beating the Republican candidate (this is highly debatable in terms of ability to sway the crucial swing voters, but on pure campaign organization and cash grounds, it seems hard to deny)? But also, it is a mystery why libertarian Republicans oppose either Clinton so vehemently. Bill was in many respects simply a continuation of the Reagan revolution--his signature achievements were in the end welfare reform, lowering capital gains tax and a budget surplus--actually he outperformed Republican presidents on that point, thanks to sound advice from Rubin and Summers), plus more palatable (again, to a libertarian) social policies. Contrast any prominent Republican candidate on social issues, and the Clintons are a clear win for libertarians. And on economic issues, the big difference is . . . anyone? Canada-style national health care didn't happen the first time when the Clintons had a friendly party, and now that the Democratic majority is considerably more conservative than it was in 1992, it ain't gonna happen, so libertarians can breathe a sigh of relief there. As for warfare, does anyone truly think Giuliani or Romney has more credibility or will hire better advisors than Clinton? At worst, Giuliani is more of a belligerent on Iran. But it's not like Bill Clinton was loath to use force abroad or retaliate against threats, real or perceived, to American security. Why assume Hillary would "surrender" in Iraq, any more so than any other candidate--she voted for it and won't apologize, remember?
9.11.2007 11:59am
Hoosier:
"As for warfare, does anyone truly think Giuliani or Romney has more credibility or will hire better advisors than Clinton?"

I don't know. which frustrates me. I'm not clear on whom Giuliani would choose as Sec State or National Security Advisor. It's easy to imagine him choosing, say, Richard Haass for NSA (which would be excellent). Or any of the pragmatic GOP foreign policy hands. He's not an ideological hawk.

So, if your question was rhetorical, then I suppose you don't realy care what I "truly think." If not, then I'll say that I think it's a distinct possibility, but still impossible to say for sure.
9.11.2007 12:09pm
Bryan DB:
I'd care more if HIllary Clinton was hiring him to go in a room and inspect classified documents. Since she's picking the brain of someone who presumably is smarter than all the people she *didn't* ask, I really don't care. If we ruled out getting counsel from all those of bad morals (or rap sheets), there wouldn't be a whole lot of bright bulbs left.
9.11.2007 12:24pm
Adeez (mail):
"by far the most impressive candidate in the Democratic field."

HAHAHAHA!!! Great stuff. But what does it mean coming from someone not inclined to vote for a Democrat? I guess she's the one most in that category want to win b/c out of the media's pre-selected Big 3, she's the easiest to beat.
9.11.2007 12:29pm
PLR:
I sort of agree with Thales, in the sense that Republicans shouldn't have that much of a problem with Senator Clinton when it comes to policy matters.

But does policy matter any more in the Rove era? Isn't it all about political power?

Just from a policy standpoint, I don't like anyone in the GOP field (but I'd like to see Ron Paul drag the party back to where it used to be), and I don't particularly like Senator Clinton either. But if she is the nominee I think she will win. I didn't think so a year ago, but despite her negatives the GOP candidate is going to have even more negatives come fall 2008 as the Iraq war bill comes due.

At least we would get better federal judges out of her. Much, much better.
9.11.2007 12:51pm
Gaius Marius:
The return of Sandy Berger to the Beltway in a position of authority will be a godsend to Al-Qaida.
9.11.2007 2:41pm
Hoosier:
PLR--Do you really mean to imply that the Clintons had policy committments. But then came Rove, and now it's all about power?

I mean, I used to watch TV during the 1990s, but I read the paper from time to time, too. And that's not how I remeber it.
9.11.2007 3:11pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Shertaugh, just out of curiosity, how exactly is it you think Fox News covered Clinton? I mean, the network didn't exist at all for his first term. Even after it was created in 1996, it didn't get broad market penetration for several years after that; it just wasn't available in a lot of markets until the very late 1990s, and it didn't start achieving significant ratings until this century, frankly.

Could you perhaps supply a single example of a Clinton scandal which was broken by Fox News because of what you imply is harsh, relentless coverage by them of President Clinton and his FOBs?

But back on point, of course Sen. Clinton is relying on Sandy Berger. It's part of the Clintons' modus operandi. They have governed always by the poll and by personal relationships, little else. Procedural protections were certainly never their strong point. Remember how important it was to be an FOB (Friend of Bill) in those days? When Pres. Clinton took office, key White House staffers sometimes went a year or two without obtaining the supposedly required security clearances. "I trust him" was the apparent mantra; if you were "with them" then you could do no wrong and it would be insulting to question such a staffer by requiring them to go through some bureaucratic process. And when they did start working on security clearances, they wound up starting with the FBI files of FORMER White House staffers, from the first Bush presidency. Hmmm....

As for the laughable suggestion that libertarians ought to like the Clintons? Remember the Clipper Chip fiasco? The Clinton Administration wanted to require by law that every encryption device in the country use a government-approved chip with a government-mandated back-door to listen to whatever conversations you might be having. How about that waste of time and money, the V-Chip, now required by law (passed at his urging and signed into law by Pres. Clinton) in every single TV set sold in this country. And don't get me started on the socialistic HillaryCare...
9.11.2007 3:19pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
And those signature reforms like welfare and reducing the budget deficit? The deficit reduction was mostly because of post-Cold-War cuts in the defense budget and economic growth brought about by the Reagan tax cuts, though Clinton certainly deserves some credit for them as well. Welfare reform, Clinton resisted for many years, until the Republicans took over the House in 1994. Then he triangulated and walked away with most of the credit it for it.

I've got an historical chart of the budget deficit (as a percentage of GDP) showing which party was in charge of the White House and the House of Representatives at StubbornFacts.us. You can see that the trend towards shrinking the deficit began under Bush 41 and continued with Clinton, with most of it taking place while there was a Republican House of Representatives.
9.11.2007 3:31pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Contrast any prominent Republican candidate on social issues, and the Clintons are a clear win for libertarians.


Right except for the part about the Brady Bill, suing gun companies because criminals misuse their products, suing tobacco companies because insurance companies and States who already charge (tax) smokers at higher rates (excise taxes) wanted even more money, supporting racial preferences and setasides, opposition to any school choice that challenges the government school monopoly, and promising to "take away things from you for the common good" what's not to like?

And on economic issues, the big difference is . . . anyone?


Quite a bit actually:

Health Care Reform -- each of the major Republican candidates* is focusing on free market reforms like expanding HSA's and/or giving the self-insured the same tax benefits as employers who provide their employees with health insurance, expanding competition by allowing consumers to purchase policies across State lines regardless of their State's unfunded mandates, and letting small groups and individuals band together in Association Health Plans to buy insurance at better rates. In contrast each of the Democrat candidates is pushing for expanding the number of people who get their health care paid for by the government including people who already can afford it on their own.

Entitlement Reform -- each of the major GOP candidates supports allowing younger workers to invest at least a portion of their FICA and is open to slowing the rate of growth of entitlement spending. None of the Democrats support choice for younger workers and most of them have come out in favor of just raising taxes (again).

Taxes -- each of the major Republican candidates has come out in favor of extending the existing tax cuts and/or lowering taxes even further. Senator Clinton voted "no" on pretty much all of them (and tried to repeal the capital gains tax cuts), supports their expiration and wants to raise taxes even higher.

Spending -- pretty much all of the major Republican candidates have criticized Congress and the President for spending too much whereas Senator Clinton has called for even higher levels of spending (and in the few times she voted "no" such as Medicare Part D, it was because it didn't spend enough).

As for warfare, does anyone truly think Giuliani or Romney has more credibility or will hire better advisors than Clinton?


At this point, the only Republican candidate likely to hire worse advisors would be Ron Paul.



* Who I define as Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain.
9.11.2007 4:40pm
Deoxy (mail):
This trikes me as a dumb (though probably requried: quid pro quo) move by someone who is usually fairly smart on stuff like this.

My opinion of Clinton as a candidate or even a Presidnt is not really relevant to that.

"If some midlevel defense worker had been caught stealing classified documents like that, or even just putting a copy in his briefcase to work on at home instead of in an approved facility..."

HE WOULD BE RROTTING IN PRISON for some double-digit number of years. The whole Berger thing has stunk to high heavin since the start! And that stink involved BOTH parties (the Clintons, obviously, but also Republicans... who in the world approved that ludicrous plea bargain? And what was the leverage used to get that approval?!?)
9.11.2007 5:34pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Deoxy.

I think we forget the power of example. Remember the Travel Office. Not only were they fired. To make it stink, to be assholes, and to cover up their transparent desire to get a gig for a couple of friends, the Clintons called in the FBI and put the guys through the expense of trials.

Also the 93 US attorneys fired in a bunch.

What, some of the folks must be thinking, if Hillary wins?
9.11.2007 5:55pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
And Ledeed seems monomaniacal on Iran, advocating policies that would turn pro-American Iranian youths *against* the US. BUT . . . I'm unaware of any illegal actions of official malfeasance on their part.

Didn't Ledeen have a role in the Iran-Contra scandal and also a role in the Chalabi stuff before the Iraq War?

I wouldn't let him off the "official malfeasance" hook so quickly.
9.11.2007 5:57pm
Hoosier:
Dilan--If he had a role in Iran-Contra, I have forgotten this. No surprise: that was a long time ago. And he wasn't a Big Player.

Any details?
9.11.2007 6:30pm
Deano (mail) (www):
Hey, if she wants Sandy representing what her administration is going to be like, I say more power to her. Doing this will allow her to explain why Berger hid took those 9/11 papers out of the archive. Be a good chance to clear the air.
9.11.2007 11:53pm
Mark Poling (mail):

Honestly, I don't particularly like Sandy Berger. It is likely that at least some of what was alleged is true.

If he did any of what he was accused of (and of course he did), and wasn't as politically well connected as he obviously is, he'd be doing hard time right now. That he isn't should be considered a national disgrace, whatever your party affiliation.
9.12.2007 12:30am
The Ace (mail) (www):
It is likely that at least some of what was alleged is true.

Hilarious.

Let me ask you a question, at what point to you become so partisan that you can't acknowledge facts?
Seriously, when?


I'm going to have a tough time taking you seriously from now on.

Parody.
9.12.2007 10:24am
SIG357:
Thales

It comes down to the courts. Not all libertarians want a country in which power is taken out of the hands of the elected branches and transfered to unelected judges. These libertarians, I among them, will have a hard time voting for Hillary.
9.12.2007 12:54pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
Steve, how much hard time do you think Abrams should have done for two misdemeanor counts of concealing evidence? It's these false equivalences that Clinton defenders have been throwing up for the last 16 years that strain credibility. Other commenters reference all these worse corruptions under Bush, except, upon examination they turn out to be small beer.

Do you really not appreciate the difference?
9.12.2007 2:38pm
Pantapon Rose (mail):
Clinton was the most personally corrupt president in our history. Why would anyone expect anything different from his wife?
9.12.2007 3:07pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Hoosier:

What I remember was that Ledeen pushed Shimon Peres and the Israelis to participate in the secret sale of arms to Iran in exchange for hostage releases and also obtained the assistance of Manuchar Ghobanifar, the shady arms dealer who served as the intermediary for the sales. He might have been involved in other ways as well.
9.12.2007 3:49pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Clinton was the most personally corrupt president in our history. Why would anyone expect anything different from his wife?"

*Blink* Isn't Nixon a slightly better candidate for this dubious title? Unless by the adverb "personally" you mean to remove Watergate burglary and the coverup. Grant and Harding come to mind as Presidents whose corruption actually involved letting their cronies loot the public trough. Not sure there's any evidence of that with the Clintons, any personal ethical failings or perjurious testimony re same aside.
9.12.2007 3:52pm
Bill Dyer (mail) (www):
From a much longer post on my own bandwidth:

Sen. Clinton is, of course, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and serves on its Airland, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and Readiness and Management Support subcommittees. I presume that as a senator with those assignments, she has regular and routine access to classified documents and information. I also presume that, as a presidential candidate, she has regular and routine meetings with her senior staff to advise her on political aspects of her foreign policy positions.

Golly, I hope she's being careful not to let a shred of classified information slip into her discussions with the Triumvirate. Receiving classified information from Sen. Clinton over the coming year, even if unintentionally and inadvertently disclosed by her, would be a violation of Mr. Berger's probation. Him having voluntarily put himself into a situation in which he was likely to be privy to such unintentional and inadvertent disclosures would certainly be something a federal judge considering probation violations could and should consider. And even though he's no longer under active supervision, a violation of this continuing term of his probation could still send him back to prison for a year.
9.12.2007 9:24pm
Jay Myers:

Bill was in many respects simply a continuation of the Reagan revolution--his signature achievements were in the end welfare reform, lowering capital gains tax and a budget surplus--actually he outperformed Republican presidents on that point, thanks to sound advice from Rubin and Summers),

I wasn't aware that Presidents had the power to levy (and cut) taxes and appropriate spending. Instead of praising Treasury secretaries, perhaps you should be praising the Republican-controlled Congress from six of Clinton's eight years in office? If only they had continued their restraint after Dubya's election.

And as someone else mentioned, the only actual reduction in spending was from the "peace dividend" gutting of our armed forces. So although this war is Dubya's legacy, the way it has overextended our military capabilities is the legacy of Bush 41, Clinton, and their associated Congresses.
9.13.2007 12:19am
Jay Myers:

"Clinton was the most personally corrupt president in our history. Why would anyone expect anything different from his wife?"

*Blink* Isn't Nixon a slightly better candidate for this dubious title? Unless by the adverb "personally" you mean to remove Watergate burglary and the coverup.

Since Nixon had no knowledge of either of the Watergate break-ins, I think it probably should be excluded from consideration of "personal" corruption. As for the coverup, not only have Presidents done far more corrupt things both before and since, Nixon himself did far worse when he took the US off of the gold standard and instituted price controls not because he thought it was sound policy for the nation but in an effort to use his official powers to jigger with his popularity going into an election. Nobody seems to mind about that abuse of power though even though it caused nearly a decade of high inflation coupled with a stagnant economy. I think it may be responsible for disco as well.

This continuing national obsession with Watergate as if it were significant is ludicrous. It was laughably minor compared to the stuff that both parties did semi-openly back then. Heck, JFK bragged to Ben Bradlee about illegally viewing the tax returns of prominent Republican donors and ordering audits of many of them. Unlike Watergate, Bradlee didn't bother to publish those crimes until over a decade after Kennedy's death. Even then, there wasn't a hint of reproach in his account. But don't take my word for it, read Conversations with JFK ISBN: 0393301893. But, yeah, let's keep pretending that Nixon was the antichrist and everyone else was as pure as the driven snow.
9.13.2007 1:01am
Thales (mail) (www):
"I wasn't aware that Presidents had the power to levy (and cut) taxes and appropriate spending. Instead of praising Treasury secretaries, perhaps you should be praising the Republican-controlled Congress from six of Clinton's eight years in office? If only they had continued their restraint after Dubya's election."

True enough from a bird's eye view, and I definitely agree about Dubya's Congress. But the way it works in modern practice is for the President to submit a budget, which he and the Congress then fight over (or not). And of course the President has significant persuasive/bullying power, ability to command media attention, etc. The more personally credible the President is, the more he has this power, which of course hurt Clinton near the end. To overly credit Clinton's Republican Congress does miss the larger point that he did truly confront his party on some stock issues and did make tough choices, even before the 1994 takeover. He believed and also was further persuaded by his Treasury guys to focus on deficit reduction and thereby lowering interest rates rather than on expensive expansions of government that couldn't be paid for. He had the political and fiscal courage to raise taxes (though not much) to cover the shortfall, while still restraining new spending, which is precisely the opposite tactic of Bush 43 and his Congress, who apparently believe in the empirically false doctrine of starve the beast (or just in looting the public coffers for the benefit of their friends).
9.13.2007 12:01pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

Why do I find the report that Hillary Clinton is using Sandy Berger as one of her key foreign policy advisors so unnerving? Because it shows both poor judgment and a lack of regard for Berger's legal and ethical breaches.


Jonathan, I think you're making one unjustified inference here: I think there's a very good argument that this could be explained by Sen Clinton's extremely high regard for Berger's legal and ethical breeches breaches.
9.13.2007 1:14pm
i b squidly (mail):
I'm looking forward to having the whole crew back. Sandy at NSA, Webb Hubbell at DOJ, Charlie Trie in Commerce, Craig Livingston at Homeland Security, and Hsu can have HUD.

Corrupt president? Nixon was a piker. JFK was slease. I've always had a fondness for LBJ who entered government $3k in debt and retired from service with $60mil. Too, when E Howard Hunt spied on the Goldwater campaign for Lyndon he was still active duty CIA.
9.13.2007 2:32pm
Rich7041 (mail):
PNR:
"At least we would get better federal judges out of her. Much, much better."

For real? We are doomed, as is our Constitution.
9.13.2007 6:26pm
Old Guy:
It seems to me a lot of you are missing the point. The issue is not who was the most corrupt president, who the other candidates have as advisors, was Hillary a good administrator in the health care fiasco, the travel agency scandal, the missing billing records, etc. etc. etc.

Please consider this:
1. Sandy Berger, admittedly, stole classified documents knowing that it was illegal to do so. He pled guilty to the "Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents."
2. Hillary Clinton is both smart, shrewd and calculating. (like her or not, it is true - she is no dummy)
3. Mrs. Clinton has selected Sandy Berger as one of her four closest advisors on foreign policy.
4. Mrs. Clinton must have known this was a controversial choice and could cause her substantial political trouble,
but gaining her nothing in the political arena, unless, of course Mr. Berger was either the most qualified person to do the job and no one else could do the job as well as he could. (A ridiculous conclusion.) Or - he had access to politcal money no one else had (Also, a ridiculous conclusion)

So - why would a very smart political person like Mrs. Clinton use Sandy Berger, a politcal liabilty, a not indispensible person, as part of her team of closest advisors?

Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Berger could become more of a liability to Mrs. Clinton (and her husband) if she didn't use him.

I leave you to draw your own conclusion.
9.15.2007 4:48pm