Sandy Berger “pantsgate” update

From an article by Scott Paltrow in today’s unlinkable Wall Street Journal:

Officials looking into the removal of classified documents from the National Archives by former Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel Berger say no original materials are missing and nothing Mr. Berger reviewed was withheld from the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks….

The conclusion by archives officials and others would seem to lay to rest the issue of whether any information was permanently destroyed or withheld from the commission.

Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said officials there “are confident that there aren’t any original documents missing in relation to this case.” She said in most cases, Mr. Berger was given photocopies to review, and that in any event officials have accounted for all originals to which he had access.

That included all drafts of a so-called after-action report prepared by the White House and federal agencies in 2000 after the investigation into a foiled bombing plot aimed at the Millennium celebrations. That report and earlier drafts are at the center of allegations that Mr. Berger might have permanently removed some records from the archives. Some of the allegations have related to the possibility that drafts with handwritten notes on them may have disappeared, but Ms. Cooper said archives staff are confident those documents aren’t missing either.

It probably ruined Sandy’s career, but it was hardly as sinister as some hysterics tried to portray it. Stupid and inexplicable, yes. A risk to national security and a crime worthy of imprisonment, no.

Via pie.

The Discussion: 14 Comments

A risk to national security and a crime worthy of imprisonment, no.

i do not belivev my eyes!!!!
it is no wonder because you are a fan of Kerry.


July 31, 2004 @ 12:35 am | Comment

Ocean, even arch-conservatives like James Taranto acknowledge that Berger does not face imprisonment. If you believe differently, please show your evidence. And if it’s true, if there is no indictment, will you apologize for your insults?


Clinton Adviser Berger Cleared of Document Theft

President Clinton’s national security adviser, Sandy Berger — who’d been accused of stealing classified material from the National Archives — has been cleared of all wrongdoing.

The National Archives and the Justice Department have concluded nothing is missing and nothing in the Clinton administration’s record was withheld from the 9-11 Commission.

The Wall Street Journal reports archives staff have accounted for all classified documents Berger looked at.

Late last year they asked investigators to see if the former national security adviser removed materials during his visits.

Berger’s lawyers said his client had inadvertently removed several photocopies of reports, but later returned them.

What do you think? Was I wildly off-base?

July 31, 2004 @ 10:55 am | Comment

Accusing you of being a Kerry fan is an insult? Did something change radically while I was off on weekend?

August 1, 2004 @ 8:38 am | Comment

No Sam, being a fan of Kerry’s should be a high compliment. But ocean is saying, in effect, “You are a stupid jerk — no wonder you’re a fan of Kerry.” Get it?

August 1, 2004 @ 12:01 pm | Comment


There is something seriously wrong with that article. It simply is not possible that Berger was “cleared of all wrong doing.” He himself admits that he improperly removed classified material from a secure facility and lost it. He himself admits taht he took unauthorized and improper notes and removed them from the room. This is, unmistakably, wrongdoing.

I also know for a fact that the investigation is still ongoing.

August 1, 2004 @ 11:02 pm | Comment

Conrad, I’m sure you’re right — I was surprised that it said the whole thing was over. But I think it’s clear Berger is not going to jail, and this whole thing was overblown.

August 1, 2004 @ 11:10 pm | Comment

I have been a holder of security clearances for over 40 years and I assure you that I would be writting this from a prison library had I compromised classified information through a mistake or on pupose. You (and many other partisan news professionals) need to get a briefing on US Government Classification which includes consequences up through “extremely grave damage to national security”. I am amazed that you can conclude that no damage was done to national security! Please provide facts! Copies or originals DO NOT MATTER! The loss of this highly classified information may have or yet may cause the death of americans. This is by definitions given in said briefings which Sandy Berger well knew. WHAT PART OF “GRAVE DAMAGE TO NATIONAL SECURITY” do you not understand?

Would you excuse any Bush administration official under similar circumstances? Your honest answer to this question provides you with why you are not deserving of any apologies!

God help us!

August 5, 2004 @ 9:23 am | Comment

I have said 100 times it was inexcusable and stupid. I’ve also said there will bo no prosecution and no prison time. If you have been reading the articles, you’ll see the members of the 911 commission said there was no threat to national security and that they had the original documents safe and sound. Try as you wish to insist there was something dangerous and sinister, but the FBI said this is strictly a “backburner” matter that’s no big deal. That’s not what I say necessarily, I’m just telling you what’s out there. This was a silly mistake and it’ll simply blow away. If I am wrong, if the FBI decides to prosecute, you can come back and I’ll apologize for predicting incorrectly.

August 5, 2004 @ 9:30 am | Comment

The 9/11 commision is not the judge of US Government classification standards. They claim that they have seen all originals/copies that their commision needed to make their decisions. I say again it was not a silly mistake (you and Sandy Berger know better) and your reflection (or repeating what Bill Clinton says) ignors what may happen to our national security because of the release of this highly classified information. PEOPLE DIE BECAUSE OF ATTITUDES LIKE YOURS!!
I hope you never are intrusted with any valuable information of any sort.
Please show me where the FBI says the loss of highly classified information does not matter.
Sandy Berger may get a pass because of his political position but I assure you the vast majority of the rest of us would not!

August 6, 2004 @ 6:56 am | Comment

Hal, here’s my attitude: It was a bad thing to do and very stupid. Here’s what I know: This was not so serious that it merits prosecution. Okay? Just like Senator Shelby, who not only “stole” classified information but then revealed it to the mass media! Stupi and terrible, but not meriting prosecution. A reprimand, but not jail. That’s not what I think, it’s what the FBI thinks. So quit your self-righteous moralizing.

August 6, 2004 @ 9:25 am | Comment

When you have friends lost because of compomised classified information let me know.
You assume that I am against Berger because he is a Dem. Sorry but both he and Shelby should be completely investigated. I reserve judgement on Shelby until more detail comes forth. I object to the rediculous excuses given for Bergers action.
Enough said. Don’t bother answering.

August 6, 2004 @ 3:36 pm | Comment

Hal, I don’t assume you’re Democrat or Republican. I’m just telling you what’s happening: the materials Berger accidentally removed were nothing to be alarmed about and it’s been taken care of. They weren’t of the type for which people die. Please, don’t over-dramatize what was an insignificant and silly mistake. Okay, enough.

August 6, 2004 @ 4:33 pm | Comment

One thing I saw in the 9/11 Commission’s report, and agree with completely, is the tendency of the government to overclassify information. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve worked for DOE and DOD for 15 years, and it’s ridiculous how much stuff gets classified more to prevent embarrassment than to protect national security. Most of it is overzealous paranoia (DOD) or an excuse for some people to say to others, “I know something you don’t know” (DOE). Does anyone realize how little of what goes on in government really needs to be kept secret?

August 8, 2004 @ 7:38 pm | Comment

Melissa, I was a news reporter in DC back in the 80s, and you are absolutely right. They stamp nearly every document “Classified” for the slightest reason, or for no reason at all, except maybe because it might be embarrassing someday. And no one’s more guilty of this than the bush administration, where absolutely everything is secret.

August 8, 2004 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

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