Unless you've been living under a rock, or you are hyptonized by "reality" TV, you're probably aware that former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger is under investigation concerning some classified materials he took from the National Archives while preparing for his testimony before the 9/11 commission. At first, reports were that he "only" took the notes he made while studying the documents. As attorney Ron Kuby, hardly a member of the vast right wing conspiracy, points out this is still illegal:
"You're not permitted to remove anything from that room - period," he said Tuesday morning. "And that means even your notes. If you're taking notes about classified information, those notes are now classified. They're placed in a secure area. You can have access to them only while being viewed by a security officer. Nothing gets removed."
Even if Berger had removed only his personal notes on classified material, it would still be a crime, said Kuby, who learned about classified reading room procedures during his own involvement in the trial of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.
Now it appears that Berger also took documents other than his notes from the archive. Some of these documents have not been located as of yet. Berger stepped down today as an informal advisor to Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry.
Many on the right are speculating that Berger was trying to conceal documents that did not reflect well on the Clinton administration's handling of terrorism. The folks on the left side of the aisle are questioning the "timing" of the leak that Berger is being investigated. Further, many have stated their belief of Berger's statement that this was all an accident. Berger has said that this is just a case of "sloppiness".
Sloppiness? According to some reports, Berger was seen stuffing documents in his pants and socks. I find it hard to believe that even the most enthusiastic left-wing kool-aid drinkers among us believe him.
If there are two things I know about, it's stealing and lying. After I was discharged from the Army in 1990, I found employment in retail loss prevention. I spent five years as a store detective and seven as a loss prevention manager/investigator. In that time, I caught somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 thieves (give or take a crook, or two). If there is one thing I can say without equivocation, it's that people who take something they aren't supposed to have, conceal it in their pants (or socks), and then leave the building with it, are thieves. He meant to steal. Another thing worth noting is that when "respectable" thieves get caught, they almost always say it was an accident ("Honestly sir, I have no idea how that 10 lb lobster got into my purse." Yeah, musta crawled in there looking for tictacs; happens all the time).
Sadly, Berger will probably get off with little or no punishment for what he did. The Republicans, ever fearful of being called "partisan", will let him skate. I hope I'm wrong about that.