T Nation

Sandy Berger Removing Docs

The spin is out in full force now…and once again, for the second time we have a former President Clinton Administration offical, in hot water for stealing docs. (Matter the first one Louie Freeh, Clinton’s 2nd CIA director, was pardoned by Presidnet Clinton right before he left office).

And why did Sandy Burger do it?

It is being reported that was taken and “supposedly” lost, were very highly classified documents,and notes, which were taken in a very super-secure reading room. Over five visits to the Archives on three separate dates, Berger removed up to six copies of an after-action report on the Millennium bomb plot, which was said to be highly critical of the Clinton administration’s counterterrorism failures.

Also At 15 pages per copy, Berger would have taken a total of 90 pages worth of Millennium reports alone - a quantity of material that defies his explanation that he had "inadvertently lifted the papers. Some of the documents were later destroyed, Berger admitted on Monday.

90 pages gone, and the National Achives people do not know if they have copies of these documents. Now how could you misplace and dsestroy or not know what you did with 90 pages of a very classified documents?

And what was Clinton’s reaction to all of this?

“…We were all laughing about it on the way over here,” the former president said of the investigation into Samuel “Sandy” Berger on classified terrorism documents missing from the National Archives. “People who don’t know him might find it hard to believe. But … all of us who’ve been in his office have always found him buried beneath papers.”

Laughng??? This is NO laughing matter…

And what do we have now? The Democrats crying this is foul!! THis was leaked to divert attentin from the 911 Commission report, being released tommorow. This has been going on for months. And the Republicans been sitting on it. Waiting for the right time to divulge it.

But Mr. Clinton raised more questions. told the Denver Post that he knew about the investigation ?for several months.?So—Bill Clinton knew that Sandy Berger was under criminal investigation and was advising the presumptive democratic presidential nominee. And obviously former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger knew as well. And he kept it quiet!! Ahhh sooner or later, that truth would come out. And as for the Dem saying about the timing… Well, the report will be very highly critical of President CLinton as well. Both admin. have egg on their faces. And again it rasies the point of the validity of this 600 page document.

And then Mr Burger who was advising Senator Kerry, and resigned yesterday…WIll senator Kerry come clean and divulge and show the American people, that these documents that were taken from the archives by mr. Burger were not exploited for political purposes to benefit John Kerry and his run for the White House? We shall see…


I can tell you really care deeply about this story, Joe.

You misspelled Sandy Berger’s name umpteen times in your post, even though it’s spelled correctly in the hysterical article you copied.

I wasn’t a huge Clinton fan, but I do think that it was a mistake. I doubt anything will happen.

I doubt anything in the docs will reveal anything groundbreaking.

Hey Chicken Little, like I said in another thread, at least he resigned and admitted to screwing up, whether inadvertant or not.

It’s nice to see people admitting mistakes and taking responsibility for them. I’d almost forgotten what that looks like under the Bush regime.

By the way, I presume none of us actually know how much paperwork these people deal with. I’m sure a two page report would be more than most of us deal with on regular basis (given the literacy level of this place).

However, some bureaucrats shuffle paper for a living and are simply desensitized to it. I certainly don’t know what really happened in this instance, it is suspicious, but so is the loss of the Bush service records.

You should feel the same way about both paperwork screwups.

A Sandy Burger is what you get when you barbecue at the beach.

If Sandy Berger did something illegal, then nail him.

What I’m hearing is that Berger took photocopies, and he didn’t take any original documents. Maybe that doesn’t matter, though. If he did something illegal, then nail him.

This story has been under investigation for 10 months. Funny how it got leaked to the press, in the week just before the Democratic National Convention.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Hey Chicken Little, like I said in another thread, at least he resigned and admitted to screwing up, whether inadvertant or not.

It’s nice to see people admitting mistakes and taking responsibility for them. I’d almost forgotten what that looks like under the Bush regime.[/quote]

What did he resign from again? Security advisor to a presidential candidate? Given what that position is worth, and given Kerry is still a candidate, I’m not surprised at all to see he “resigned” – political campaigns drop anything controversial as if it’s a hot potato.

[quote]By the way, I presume none of us actually know how much paperwork these people deal with. I’m sure a two page report would be more than most of us deal with on regular basis (given the literacy level of this place).

However, some bureaucrats shuffle paper for a living and are simply desensitized to it. [/quote]

True, as I said in my post on the other thread (sorry about that - this one wasn’t up when I posted it). However, the highly classified status of the documents, and the fact he took every single draft of the document in question on the millenium threats, is suspicious. I want to know more about this.

[quote]I certainly don’t know what really happened in this instance, it is suspicious, but so is the loss of the Bush service records.

You should feel the same way about both paperwork screwups.[/quote]

I’m sorry, but these are apples and oranges. On the one hand, you have Bush’s service records disappear at some point over the course of 40 years, likely due to either normal document destruction policies or mistake on the part of the national guard - only a few fringe people have suggested that Bush had anything to do with their disappearence, and there is no evidence of such.

On the other hand, you have Berger taking documents himself out of the National Archive, and losing them or disposing of them himself, in the span of a few weeks.

Nothing about those two situations is comparable save there are documents no longer available.

I dont know…there are allegations published in respectable newspapers, that he stuffed things in his socks to get them out of their…thats very very suspect if true.

Here is a good take on it from the WSJ:

Berger on the ‘Wall’
July 21, 2004; Page A10

"We’ll grant that visions of a former National Security Adviser stuffing classified documents down his trousers or socks makes for good copy. But count us more interested in learning what’s in the documents themselves than in where on his person Sandy Berger may have put them when he was sneaking them out of the National Archives.

For the evidence suggests that the missing material cuts to the heart of the choice offered in this election: Whether America treats terrorism as a problem of law enforcement or an act of war.

Mr. Berger admits to having deliberately taken handwritten notes he’d made out of the Archives reading room. On the more serious charges involving the removal (and subsequent discarding) of highly classified documents – including drafts of a key, after-action memo Mr. Berger had himself ordered on the U.S. response to al Qaeda threats in the run-up to the Millennium – he maintains he did so “inadvertently.”

There’s only one way to clear away the political smoke: Release all the drafts of the review Mr. Berger took from the room.

If it’s all as innocent as Mr. Berger’s friends are saying, there’s no reason not to make them public. But there are good reasons for questioning Mr. Berger’s dog-ate-my-homework explanation. To begin with, he was not simply preparing for his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. He was the point man for the Clinton Administration, reviewing and selecting the documents to be turned over to the Commission.

Written by Richard Clarke for the NSC, the key document was called the Millennium After-Action Review because it dealt with al Qaeda attacks timed for the eve of the Millennium celebrations. In his own 9/11 testimony, Mr. Berger described these al Qaeda plans as “the most serious threat spike of our time in government.” He went on to say that they provoked “sustained attention and rigorous actions” from the Administration that ended up saving lives.

But Attorney General John Ashcroft, who has the advantage of having read the document in question, had a different take. In his own 9/11 testimony in April, Mr. Ashcroft recommended that the Commission “study carefully” the after-action memo. He described it as laying out vulnerabilities and calling for aggressive remedies of the type he and the Bush Administration have been criticized for. Mr. Ashcroft further noted that when he took office, this “highly classified review” was “not among” the items he was briefed on during the transition.

Maybe that is because of the potential for embarrassment at the mentality the memo reveals. Mr. Ashcroft testified that the Justice Department’s “surveillance and FISA operations were specifically criticized for their glaring weaknesses.” The most glaring, of course, were the restrictions on the sharing of critical information between intelligence and law enforcement – even within the FBI itself. This was the infamous “wall of separation” that Clinton Deputy AG Jamie Gorelick instructed the FBI director should “go beyond what is legally required.”

From today’s vantage we can see the consequences. Ahmed Ressam was one of the would-be Millennium bombers whom the French had identified to U.S. intelligence agencies as an al Qaeda operative planning to attack America. But the “wall of separation” meant that when an alert U.S. customs officer stopped Ressam as he tried to enter the country from Vancouver, the Justice Department had no idea who he was. This helps illuminate the claim made in the missing memo, according to Mr. Ashcroft’s testimony, that our success in stopping these 1999 attacks was a result of sheer “luck.”

Assuming Mr. Ashcroft’s characterizations under oath are true, it would explain why Mr. Berger’s “inadvertent” actions seemed to zero in on the various drafts of this review. Sources tell us that Archives staff noticed documents missing after one of Mr. Berger’s visits. After gently raising the issue with him, they were shocked to have him return other documents they hadn’t even noticed missing. The result was that the next time Mr. Berger went to the Archives, the documents he was given were all marked.

Mr. Berger attributes the disappearance of this classified information to the kind of “sloppiness” that comes from reviewing “thousands of pages of documents.” But it strikes us as amazing that mere sloppiness could account for how Mr. Berger seized on the same memo during two different visits.

We’re not interested in rehashing what the Clinton Administration or even Mr. Berger did or didn’t do vis-a-vis the al Qaeda threat pre-9/11. Nor are we much interested about Mr. Berger’s troubles with the law. What does interest us is what this memo might tell us about how America should respond to terror.

Given Mr. Berger’s role (until he resigned yesterday) as a Kerry adviser, surely this is something worth debating. And if the missing memos say what Mr. Ashcroft has hinted they do, we can well understand why Mr. Berger would want to keep them in his trousers during a crucial election year.

Here’s a nice little observation concerning the “suspicious timing” allegations that Terry McCauliffe, among others, has attempted to float on this:
[Internal links in original post]

When Would Be a Good Time For You?

It occurred to me last night that the Democrats are always whining about the “timing” of news developments. So, I thought I’d Google it. Let’s look at Republicans first:

* Bush DUI Leak: He questioned the timing of the revelation.

  "I do find it interesting that it's come out four or five days before the election," Bush said.

* Rangle's Military Draft: However, Corbin questioned the timing of renewed discussion of the draft, saying: ?I don?t see it as something viable politically. Right now the feeling of not wanting troops in Iraq is as strong as it?s ever been with all the reserve mobilization. There seems to be growing resistance to the operation in Iraq.?

Now, if you have several minutes, let look at the Democrats:

* Ashcroft Warns of Attack (March): Senator John Kerry, the expected Democratic presidential candidate, said the timing of the announcement appeared intended in part to distract attention from Mr. Bush's sagging poll numbers and problems in Iraq. ...and...Two Kerry supporters questioned the timing of the administration's threat report, wondering in a conference call arranged by the campaign whether the latest announcement was politically motivated.

* Ashcroft Warns of Attack (July): Democrats have criticized a number of such warnings by the administration and questioned the timing of the latest televised news conference that provided no new specific intelligence about an attack on any specific site.

* Capture of Saddam Hussien: On Seattle radio yesterday, Rep. Jim McDermott questioned the timing of Saddam Hussein's capture, saying, "I'm sure they could have found him a long time ago if they wanted to."

* FBI investigation of Philadelphia City Hall: Democratic State Senator Vince Fumo questioned the timing of the investigation and Ashcroft's visit, saying "I don't know how often the Attorney General of the United States goes to visit attorney generals throughout the United States and if this is just a stop-by to check on the office to see how it is doing, that timing is not exactly appropriate either."

* U.S. Allegations Against Cuba: "We know that Cuba has been doing some research with respect to biological offensive weapons possibly, and so we think that it is appropriate for us to point out this kind of activity," Powell said.

  But Carter questioned the timing of the allegations that came during his visit to Cuba.

* Report Released Showing the Administration Withheld Medicare Estimates: One staffer also questioned the timing, suggesting that the administration wanted to release it when the news media was focused on Sen. John Kerry?s (D-Mass.) decision to name Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) as his running mate.

* Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: Meehan and other Kerry aides questioned the timing of the group's emergence just as the Kerry campaign was launching a $25-million television ad campaign based on his Vietnam War record 

So we are left with the question, “Is any time a good time?” Quite obviously, for the Democrats, the answer is, “No.”

Boy, that is a sloppy post…

[quote]Bush DUI Leak: He questioned the timing of the revelation.

“I do find it interesting that it’s come out four or five days before the election,” Bush said.[/quote]

According to another poster, FoxNews was the source for the Bush DUI story.

Then Republicans claimed that it was “dirty tricks”. Coincidence? I don’t know.

Your list of Democratic complaints included the Philadelphia mayor’s race, where the mayor’s office was bugged. The Justice Department was investigating the (Dem) mayor, beginning in the days before the election. Too bad… the mayor was re-elected. The investigation smelled like a rat, and voter turnout reflected that.

All I can make from your list is a bunch of suspect events, and then your tag line “Gee the Democrats sure do complain a lot”.

Umm… what?

Boston, I’m not convinced Bush’s records dissappeared “sometime”… based on the fact that some documents are out there (as you’ll recall on that site I was referring to not too long ago).

Clinton hires an absent-minded idiot for his staff, and its a laughing matter? Then Kerry hires the same guy? Gee, I sure feel secure with these clowns in charge of things. Imagine if any one on this forum ‘absent-mindedly’ walked out with documents like these? See you in 20 years.
FTGT (flush the goddamn toilet)

I just perused a “hysterical” article in that rag of right-wing reaction called the Washington Post. Tee-hee-hee another one of the Clintonian Best and Brightest in a very oops moment. Gee, as former National Security Advisor, I didn’t know they took that ‘Top Secret’ and ‘Classified’ stuff so seriously. Who da thunk?

How, pray tell, would the staff know which documents one of the cognitive elite would so absent mindedly amble out with time and time again, and code them? What are the odds, to forget one is in possession of the same things and walk out with them multiple times? He must not have gotten it right the first time, so he had to read another copy, and another, and another, and another, and another.

Lumpy, you are going to have to do a little better than “hysterical” and spell checking (you could start with your own posts).

If on down the line Condi Rice did the same thing after Dubbya was shown the door I’m 110 percent sure that your posts would be exactly the same. Actually, I’m more sure that you would blow a freakin’ gasket.

More than three years since Bubba left (with lots of goodies!) the Oval Office and yet one can call this so very positively Clintonian.

I believe Sandy Burger (Berger, sorry Lumpy). But then again, I believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Now if ya’ll will excuse me I’m going to surf the Net and score some HMB.

Sources have told The Washington Post, and other news organizations, that Berger was witnessed stuffing papers into his clothing. Through attorneys and spokesmen, Berger has denied doing that.

I don’t think the Republicans leaked the Berger investigation at all.

Berger has known he was under investigation since it started. Hell, he knew he took the documents from the National Archives.

Guess who knew nothing about their top national security advisor being under investigation? Go on - guess. Kerry.

Guess who had to get out in front this before the DNC or before the debates started up? Kerry

If the Republicans were going to leak this story, why would they do it now when it wouldn’t get much mileage?

I think Berger fessed up to Kerry about being under criminal investigation, and the Kerry folks floated the story in order to get out front of what would have been very very damning to them later on.

I’d really like to know how he got the documents out, considering how tight security is through the whole building. You have to check all bags and briefcases before you get close to any reading rooms, and they check notebooks and reams of papers on your way out. The last time I went with my g/f in December we were allowed to bring in all of 3 pens and a single notebook, and they flipped through every page on our way out.

If Condi Rice had done the same thing, there’d already be a documentary in the works.

One question only - why?

[quote]vroom wrote:
Boston, I’m not convinced Bush’s records dissappeared “sometime”… based on the fact that some documents are out there (as you’ll recall on that site I was referring to not too long ago).[/quote]


You’re right – some are. But they are different records. The records there are payroll records, and records from some bases. Remember, these are paper records from the days before computer files, not centralized records - and they’re from at least two different state national guard systems. So it’s perfectly consistent internally to think that some of the recordkeepers would have different policies, or that only one or two of the recordkeepers would have mistakenly gotten rid of records.

This article seems to undercut the whole “inadvertently removed” excuse Berger had been proferring:


Archives Staff Was Suspicious of Berger
Why Documents Were Missing Is Disputed

By John F. Harris and Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 22, 2004; Page A06

Last Oct. 2, former Clinton national security adviser Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger stayed huddled over papers at the National Archives until 8 p.m.

What he did not know as he labored through that long Thursday was that the same Archives employees who were solicitously retrieving documents for him were also watching their important visitor with a suspicious eye.

After Berger’s previous visit, in September, Archives officials believed documents were missing. This time, they specially coded the papers to more easily tell whether some disappeared, said government officials and legal sources familiar with the case.

The notion of one of Washington’s most respected foreign policy figures being subjected to treatment that had at least a faint odor of a sting operation is a strange one. But the peculiarities – and conflicting versions of events and possible motives – were just then beginning in a case that this week bucked Berger out of an esteemed position as a leader of the Democratic government-in-waiting that had assembled around presidential nominee John F. Kerry.

As his attorneys tell it, Berger had no idea in October that documents were missing from the Archives, or that archivists suspected him in the disappearance. It was not until two days later, on Saturday, Oct. 4, that he was contacted by Archives employees who said that they were concerned about missing files, from his September and October visits. This call – in Berger’s version of the chronology, which is disputed in essential respects by a government official with knowledge of the investigation – was made with a tone of concern, but not accusation.

Berger, his attorney Lanny Breuer said, checked his office and realized for the first time that he had walked out – unintentionally, he says – with important papers relating to the Clinton administration’s efforts to combat terrorism.

Berger alerted Archives employees that evening to what he had found. The classified documents were sensitive enough that employees arrived on a Sunday morning to pick them up.

Several days later, after he had retained Breuer as counsel, Berger volunteered that he had also taken 40 to 50 pages of notes during three visits to the Archives beginning in July, the lawyer said. Berger turned the notes over to the Archives. He has acknowledged through attorneys that he knowingly did not show these papers to Archives officials for review before leaving – a violation of Archives rules, but not one that he perceived as a serious security lapse.

By then, however, Archives officials had served notice that there were other documents missing. Despite searching his home and office, Berger could not find them. By January, the FBI had been brought in, and Berger found himself in a criminal investigation – one that he chose not to tell Kerry’s campaign about until this week.

But three days after the disclosure of the Berger investigation, many of the basic facts of the controversy remain unknown or are contested, as well as more subjective questions about how seriously his lapse should be regarded or its effect on politics this year.

A government official with knowledge of the investigation said Archives employees took action promptly after noticing a missing document in September. This official said an Archives employee called former White House deputy counsel Bruce Lindsey, who is former president Bill Clinton’s liaison to the National Archives. The Archives employee said documents were missing and would have to be returned.

Under this version of events – which Breuer denied – documents were returned the following day from Berger’s office to the Archives. Not included in these papers, the government official said, were any drafts of the document at the center of this week’s controversy.

The documents that Berger has acknowledged taking – some of which remain missing – are different drafts of a January 2000 “after-action review” of how the government responded to terrorism plots at the turn of the millennium. The document was written by White House anti-terrorism coordinator Richard A. Clarke, at Berger’s direction when he was in government.

Lindsey, now in private legal practice in Little Rock, did not return telephone and e-mail messages.

The government source said the Archives employees were deferential toward Berger, given his prominence, but were worried when he returned to view more documents on Oct. 2. They devised a coding system and marked the documents they knew Berger was interested in canvassing, and watched him carefully. They knew he was interested in all the versions of the millennium review, some of which bore handwritten notes from Clinton-era officials who had reviewed them. At one point an Archives employee even handed Berger a coded draft and asked whether he was sure he had seen it.

At the end of the day, Archives employees determined that that draft and all four or five other versions of the millennium memo had disappeared from the files, this source said.

This source and another government official said that archivists gave Berger use of a special room for reviewing the documents. He was examining the documents to recommend to the Bush administration which papers should be released to the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said that employees closely monitor anyone cleared to review classified presidential materials.

The contradictions over essential facts, such as when Berger was first alerted to missing documents, have characterized the controversy this week.

Sources have told The Washington Post, and other news organizations, that Berger was witnessed stuffing papers into his clothing. Through attorneys and spokesmen, Berger has denied doing that.

Berger has known for months that he was in potential jeopardy. Breuer was hired in October, and in January former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart was enlisted to remain on standby if a public controversy blossomed. But Berger allies said he did not inform Kerry because he had resolved to work privately with Justice Department officials, and received assurances that these officials would treat the matter confidentially.

The controversy is likely to continue, even after Berger relinquished his role as informal Kerry adviser on Tuesday. House Government Reform Committee Chairman Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) said yesterday that he plans an investigation.

“These allegations are deeply troubling, and it’s our constitutional responsibility to find out what happened and why,” Davis said in a statement. “It boggles the mind to imagine how a former national security advisor walked off with this kind of material in his pants, or wherever on his body he carried it. At best, we’re looking at tremendously irresponsible handling of highly classified information – some of which, I understand, has not yet been located.”

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said that “a few individuals” in the White House counsel’s office knew about the investigation before news reports.

There was bitterness among Berger allies this week in the timing of the disclosure and the wealth of detail – inaccurate detail, they say – about the allegations.

“This is a terrible experience for him, and he’s embarrassed by his mistakes,” Lockhart said, “but I think he also feels a sense of injustice that after building a reputation as a tireless defender of his country that many Republicans would try to assassinate his character to pursue their own ends.”

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

My understanding is that the most important document Berger took was drafted by Richard Clarke. Since most Republicans will tell you Clarke is full of shit (he is not real complimentary of the Bush administration when it comes to their tactics for fighting terrorism), what is the big deal?

john p, I have had the same experience that you had when reviewing any material at the National Archives. I have gone several times for different research projects, and everytime, each note I took was scruntinized. And security is at the utmost in that building. In the fear of people trying to steal ot remove very precious articles, wrtiings, maps, photos, etc. in the National Achives.

But I have also found a very good article that shows how Mr. Berger got away with taking those documnets, and the notes. out of that National Archives Building…
It is from the Springfield, Missouri News Leader

Guards left Berger alone, sources say
Ex-security adviser reportedly told monitors to violate rules as he took breaks, took files.

By James Gordon Meek
New York Daily News

Washington ? Former national security adviser Sandy Berger repeatedly persuaded monitors assigned to watch him review top-secret documents to break the rules and leave him alone, sources said Wednesday.
Berger, accused of smuggling some of the secret files out of the National Archives, got the monitors out of the high-security room by telling them he had to make sensitive phone calls.

Guards were convinced to violate their own rules by stepping out of the secure room as he looked over documents and allegedly stashed some in his clothing, sources said.

“He was supposed to be monitored at all times but kept asking the monitor to leave so he could make private calls,” a senior law enforcement source told the Daily News.

Berger also took “lots of bathroom breaks” that aroused some suspicion, the source added. It is standard procedure to constantly monitor anyone with a security clearance who examines the type of code-word classified files stored in the underground archives vault.

The same archives monitors told the FBI Berger was observed stuffing his socks with handwritten notes about files he reviewed that were going to the Sept. 11 panel. It is prohibited to make notes about the secret files and leave with them without special approval.

And this I just found from Newsday.com

"… Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst for the Washington-based National Security Archive, which is not affiliated with the government.

The process is somewhat different for those who have security clearance or otherwise are allowed access to classified information, as Berger was.

“He was a special case,” Kornbluh said. “He was a former government official who was there to look at still-classified material.”

Only a few come to the archives to thumb through classified information, and they go to a different room with its own strict set of rules, said Cooper. Only a few archives employees are authorized to work with classified material, and elaborate regulations govern who is allowed to come in to see them.

Former presidential appointees such as Berger may, under certain conditions, see papers that they dealt with while in office.

Such researchers must have clearance, sign a form pledging to safeguard the material and authorize a review of their notes.

Because they are not working in the main reading room with others, they are not required to put everything in lockers.

“You can ask them to leave their briefcase and coat over at the other side of the room,” Cooper said. “It’s a very different thing.”

So now the hows are coming out…All that is left is why did Mr. Berger do it?

And in reference to the Dem. saying that this 9/11 commission report was the reason to divert attention away from the document. That is fizzling out completely. That report is critical of both admin. And not laying blame to any Presidental admin. Where there faults ? Absolutely there were. It was not blaming this one or that one. Mistakes have been made on all fronts. And now we have to work together, both dem and rep. and fix those wrongs. Mean you can see the failures right before your eyes just watching that chilling video of the 5 hijackers being checked by security at Dulles. And being let go. Matter of fact one Dem one Rep from that commission, are going to go on tour across the US. talking about the commission and its findings. I am SO happy to see even in Congress. There is no blame game going on … And going to work together and united, in fighting this war on terrorism…