Politics & Policy

Criminal Behavior

There are two kinds of crooks. The first cuts a deal. He tells the government what he knows and forever after is ostracized and hunted by his old partners in crime. The second is “stand-up.” He keeps his mouth shut. After serving his time, he is welcomed back into the fold. He might even get a “bump up” in rank from his grateful bosses.

No, we’re not talking about The Sopranos. What we have in mind is a new episode of a tawdry soap opera that began in the 1990s. Welcome to the case of disgraced former national security adviser Sandy Berger — and what it portends about a potential President Hillary.

Now Berger is back in business at Camp Clinton, advising New York’s junior senator in her bid for the White House. This warrants a review of Berger’s recent history. After his stint as national security adviser, he became Bill Clinton’s liaison to the 9/11 Commission as it investigated intelligence failures (many of which happened on Berger’s watch). Berger was accordingly given access to the national archives, both to prepare his own testimony and to get the former president ready for an interview with the commission.

Berger used his privileged access to steal top-secret national-defense documents. On at least two occasions he stuffed them into his clothing and briefcase, smuggling them out of the archives. He secreted some of these stolen papers under the wheel of a truck at a nearby construction site so that he could return for them later. Other documents he intentionally destroyed. These actions were serious felonies.

Berger’s behavior was so strange that the government noticed and investigated. Berger then lied to the authorities, denying what he had done and absurdly claiming he had taken the documents in an honest mistake. Only later did he fess up to his theft.

Because the archives lacked filing controls, it is impossible to know exactly how much Berger stole. Yet — as our Byron York has reported — among the highly classified haul were various drafts of an “after-action report” prepared by top Clinton counterterrorism officials after the Customs Service, in a stroke of luck, foiled the millennium plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. That report has been widely described as a scathing internal assessment of the Clinton administration’s performance and state of preparedness for domestic terrorist attack. It was highly relevant to the 9/11 Commission’s investigation, as was the manner in which it was finalized and the question whether the Clinton administration acted on its recommendations.

Yet the commission was not told about Berger’s unlawful actions. He was not questioned about them, and the public has never been permitted to see copies of what he took (such copies are said to exist). President Clinton and the Clinton Library are conveniently immune to Freedom of Information Act disclosure requests for 12 years. And the Bush Justice Department shamefully tucked this whole affair under the rug by permitting Berger to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, effectively shielding him from public disclosure of the evidence.

What kind of advice is Berger giving Mrs. Clinton, anyway? It can’t be legal advice: Berger forfeited his law license. It’s unlikely he’d be much help on Iran: The Clinton administration didn’t respond to the Khobar Towers bombing (in which19 U.S. Air Force personnel were killed) because Berger and others were convinced that then–Iranian president Mohammed Khatami was going to “reform” the hard-line mullahs. Berger failed on al Qaeda, too: Clinton declined to respond to the terror network’s bombing of the U.S.S. Cole (17 U.S. Navy personnel killed) because, according to Clinton, Berger’s intelligence services couldn’t tell him who did it.

Sandy Berger was a failure as national-security adviser. Then he became a criminal. As Americans contemplate making Hillary their president, they would be wise to consider the company she keeps.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

Most Popular

Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More
Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
Elections

Late Campaign Stops Don’t Seem to Do Much

Growing up in New Jersey, we called nights like tonight – where there were expectations for hooliganism -- vandalism, breaking windows, and perhaps even arson, “Mischief Night.” In Detroit, they called it “Devil’s Night.” In 2020, Americans just call it “Friday.” On the menu today: wondering ... Read More
Elections

Late Campaign Stops Don’t Seem to Do Much

Growing up in New Jersey, we called nights like tonight – where there were expectations for hooliganism -- vandalism, breaking windows, and perhaps even arson, “Mischief Night.” In Detroit, they called it “Devil’s Night.” In 2020, Americans just call it “Friday.” On the menu today: wondering ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More
Economy & Business

Daylight Savings Forever

Before I became a parent, I didn't have especially strong feelings about the time shifting by an hour twice a year. Like most people I was aware of the downsides -- increased car accidents, schedule confusion, etc. -- and I figured it would be better to knock it off. But I didn't feel personally offended by ... Read More
Economy & Business

Daylight Savings Forever

Before I became a parent, I didn't have especially strong feelings about the time shifting by an hour twice a year. Like most people I was aware of the downsides -- increased car accidents, schedule confusion, etc. -- and I figured it would be better to knock it off. But I didn't feel personally offended by ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More