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Sandy Burglar:

From today's Washington Post:

On the evening of Oct. 2, 2003, former White House national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger stashed highly classified documents he had taken from the National Archives beneath a construction trailer at the corner of Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW so he could surreptitiously retrieve them later and take them to his office, according to a newly disclosed government investigation.

The documents he took detailed how the Clinton administration had responded to the threat of terrorist attacks at the end of 1999. Berger removed a total of five copies of the same document without authorization and later used scissors to destroy three before placing them in his office trash, the National Archives inspector general concluded in a Nov. 4, 2005, report.

So, Berger stole and destroyed classified material on multuple occasions — some of which had hand-written notations that are permanently lost — and his only punishment was a fine, some community service, and the temporary loss of his security clearance. At the very least, Berger should never have access to classified documents again.

[Oops! I forgot the link. It's fixed now.]

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Sandy Burglar OIG Report:

The Inspector's General report on Sandy Berger's theft of classified documents is available on-line here. One does not need to believe that Berger was part of some sort of conspiracy to believe his actions, as described therein, were serious breaches of the public trust.

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What Did Sandy Berger Burgle?

As this Washington Post report indicates, we still don't know for sure what Sandy Burglar took from the National Archives.

A report last month by the Republican staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said for the first time that Berger's visits were so badly mishandled that Archives officials had acknowledged not knowing if he removed anything else and destroyed it. The committee further argued that the 9/11 Commission should have been told more about Berger and about Brachfeld's concerns, a suggestion that resonated with Philip Zelikow, the commission's former executive director.

Zelikow said in an interview last week that "I think all of my colleagues would have wanted to have all the information at the time that we learned from the congressional report, because that would have triggered some additional questions, including questions we could have posed to Berger under oath."

The commission's former general counsel, Dan Marcus, now an American University law professor, separately expressed surprise at how little the Justice Department told the commission about Berger and said it was "a little unnerving" to learn from the congressional report exactly what Berger reviewed at the Archives and what he admitted to the FBI — including that he removed and cut up three copies of a classified memo.

"If he took papers out, these were unique records, and highly, highly classified. Had a document not been produced, who would have known?" Brachfeld said in an interview. "I thought [the 9/11 Commission] should know, in current time — in judging Sandy Berger as a witness . . . that there was a risk they did not get the full production of records."

Sandy Berger did not "burgle" any thing, as he did not commit burglary — the act of breaking and entering to steal — but he did steal documents, and we only have his word that he did not steal anything that was irreplaceable or otherwise left a hole in the historical record. Nonetheless, the man will soon be eligible to have his security clearance restored.

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Sandy Berger Leaves the Bar:

Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger has agreed to forfeit his law license, according to this report. As I've noted before, we still do not know precisely what documents Berger burgled from the National Archives. It also appears Berger may have been eager to strike a deal over his bar license to avoid further scrutiny: "In giving up his license, Mr. Berger avoids being cross-examined by the Board on Bar Counsel, where he risked further disclosure of specific details of his theft." It also does not seem like that great a sacrifice for, as Berger commmented, he has not practiced law in 15 years. (LvIP)

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