Sandy Berger became National Security Advisor to the White House in 1996. Before that he served as Deputy Assistant to the President (Clinton) for National Security Affairs. His law practice before Clinton was elected, concentrated on international trade and politics. He also served as deputy director of policy planning for the State Department during the Clinton years. Sandy Berger was a man with heavy responsibilities; most recently serving as a political advisor to John Kerry.
Then came the September 11 commission and a visit to the National Archives. There he was given access to classified documents, under the watchful eye of guards. However, on more than one occasion Berger distracted the guards and sent them on spurious missions. He stuffed notes and documents in his shoes and clothing, then left the building.
"When I was informed by the Archives that there were documents missing, I immediately returned everything I had except for a few documents [40 to 50 pages] that I apparently had accidentally discarded," Berger said. Apparently had accidentally discarded????
Later, when questioned, Berger admitted that he hid notes in his jacket and pants in order to sneak them from the Archives. Why did he have to sneak them? If they were his notes they surely would have been cleared by security so they could have been removed openly. Why did Berger not want anyone to see those notes?
According to the 9/11 Commission, Berger had four chances to take action against Al Qaeda: Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999 and August 2000. Each time, Berger was the main reason action wasn't taken.
In his testimony concerning December 1999 before the Commission, Berger said, "We exerted strong diplomatic and economic pressure on the Taliban to give up Osama bin Laden by withholding recognition of their regime, and threatening to hold them responsible for any future attacks on American interests...We increased efforts to stem money laundering...In 1998 and 1999, President Clinton blocked Al Qaeda financial transactions and froze some $255 million in Taliban assets and shut down the Afghan national airline." In all, his testimony revealed that, indeed, the Clinton administration was well aware of the threat of Bin Laden and the Taliban but it neglected to let the American people in on the secret. And it isn't as if we hadn't already experienced at least one Taliban attack on American soil during the Clinton administration -- the first World Trade Center bombing.
Berger's attorney says his taking the documents was "inadvertent." That simply can't be so if he hid them in his clothes.
Colbert King, writing in the Washington Post in July 2004 says, "Officials familiar with the case told The Post that some documents were missing after Berger's previous visit, so archives staffers coded the papers he was interested in reading to help them detect when other papers disappeared. After one of Berger's visits, one source reported to the Post, those materials had disappeared from the files."
Obviously Sandy Berger has violated some serious Federal security regulations. But even convicting him of that will not answer the question of why? And what documents did he destroy? You can ask him of course, but can you believe the answer? I don't think so.
The Democratic Party needs to do some serious housecleaning to remove people who, like Berger, steal and destroy top security documents. This brings back memories of the Clintons being exonerated on real estate scams, but without full exclosure of missing and shredded documents. And it makes one wonder why John Kerry has been so hesitant about releasing his service records and his wife's financial records. The