Politics & Policy

Bergergate, &c.

Call me a right-wing paranoid – it’s been done before! – but I think that, if Sandy Berger were a conservative Republican, the story of his criminality would be a really, really big deal. Bear in mind that the man was national security adviser. Do you know about his criminality? You may read about it here. Let me provide just a taste:

In October 2003, the [inspector general’s] report said, an Archives official called Berger to discuss missing documents from his visit two days earlier. The investigator’s notes said, “Mr. Berger panicked because he realized he was caught.”

The notes said that Berger had “destroyed, cut into small pieces, three of the four documents. These were put in the trash.”

As I said, that’s just a taste.


If Berger were a Republican, the word “Nixonian” would be making a big, big comeback – at a minimum.


Remember how President Clinton and his people reacted shortly after the first news about Berger and the Archives came out? Oh, that’s just Sandy, ha, ha, ha – didn’t surprise any of us, when we heard about it. You should have seen his desk at the White House! Sloppy Sandy – ethical as the day is long, though.


Yeah, what a crock.


It could be that Berger performed a real service in stealing and deep-sixing documents – that is, a service to the Clinton administration. (I warned you this would be a paranoid item.) Berger’s lawyer – remember Lanny Breuer, of Lewinsky fame? – says there’s no need to fret: The 9/11 Commission received all the documents it should have; Berger deprived the commission, and therefore the nation, of nothing.


Tom Davis, the Republican congressman – and chairman of the House Government Reform Committee – isn’t so sure. Here’s what he says: “There is absolutely no way to determine if Berger swiped [certain] original documents. Consequently, there is no way to ever know if the 9/11 Commission received all required materials.”


Berger got off pretty lightly: $50,000 fine, 100 hours of community service, no access to classified documents for three years. Whoop-de-doo.


It seems we will never know whether Berger destroyed inconvenient documents. From the look of it, he was trying to avoid embarrassment to himself and the Clinton administration, at the expense of the public’s right to know. To know what? How our government treated al Qaeda before 9/11. In any event, Berger did a lousy, lousy thing.


As would be clear to one and all, in every village and hamlet of this country – if only he were a “neocon” from Texas. (Preferably evangelical!)


Oh, have a little more of the story re Berger:

Berger took a break to go outside without an escort while it was dark. He had taken four documents in his pockets.

“He headed toward a construction area. . . . Mr. Berger looked up and down the street, up into the windows of the Archives and the DOJ (Department of Justice), and did not see anyone,” the interview notes said.

He then slid the documents under a construction trailer, according to the inspector general. Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.

“He was aware of the risk he was taking,” the inspector general’s notes said. Berger then returned to the Archives building without fearing the documents would slip out of his pockets or that staff would notice that his pockets were bulging.

The notes said Berger had not been aware that Archives staff had been tracking the documents he was provided because of earlier suspicions from previous visits that he was removing materials. Also, the employees had made copies of some documents.

But only some.

Remember that Condoleezza Rice has been national security adviser – just like Berger. Can you imagine her doing that? I mean, “the whole bitsy,” as my grandmother would say? Looking up and down the street, up into the windows of the Archives and the DOJ, etc.?

Anyway . . .

‐No, let’s not end on that. You are familiar with this line from one of the Gershwins’ songs: “The world will pardon my mush . . .” (rhymes with “crush”). Well, I hope you’ll pardon my mush, in saying how grateful I am to the readers of this column, and of NRO, and of National Review. Your support and interest are deeply meaningful, and . . .


Well, before the mush piles up further, I’ll just say, Here’s to a marvelous 2007 – and I’ll see you soon.


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