The Corner

Berger, 9/11

Well, the 9/11 report doesn’t trash Bush, so the idea that the Berger information was leaked to draw attention away from the supposed anti-Bush report has no legs. Moreover, the Bush administration had this report days ago for vetting purposes. It knew the report didn’t trash Bush. So, the charge that the administration was motivated to leak this information seems way off the mark. In addition, the news reports this morning suggest, to me, that Berger has much to fear and that he will eventually be charged. Apart from stuffing classified information in his pockets, or wherever, he engaged in deceptive conduct over many hours, during separate visits to the Archives, which will be very difficult for DOJ’s Public Integrity Section to overlook. The argument that this was inadvertent is laughable, yet that’s what his defenders continue to throw against the wall.

Keep in mind, these documents would have special covers on them, usually in red, with bold lettering stating that they are, in this case, top-secret/code-word classified. Each page would be stamped with bold warnings. As a former National Security Advisor, Berger has handled hundreds if not thousands of documents of this kind. Even on a messy desk at home, these documents would be difficult to lose.

Lanny Davis’s tactics of leaking bad information in order to control the media spin is clearly in play, if not by him, by others. But he is now a prominent voice pointing a finger at purported Bush motives. The Berger story first appeared in the Associated Press, and was written by John Solomon, whom Davis reveals in his book as his favorite reporter. In addition to Davis, the usual Clinton propagandists are involved as well — Lanny Breuer and Joe Lockhart.

It’s a crime to mishandle classified documents in this manner whether or not Berger had some nefarious intent. Intent would go to the level of law-breaking, not the fact of it. But some have asked what would motivate Berger to do this. My guess is that Berger may well have thought that the various drafts of the after-action Millennium report, and their different iterations, were the only copies, that they were devastating, and that he knew the final Millennium report was a watered down version. After all, he had originally ordered the preparation of the report, tasking the job to Richard Clarke. But even if Berger knew other copies of the drafts existed, the information would be useful in advising John Kerry on security issues to emphasize during his campaign, and in advising Bill Clinton on how defend his administration’s conduct in the days leading up to 9/11. This would also explain why he took notes.

Whatever the motive, this is a major national security breach. Some of these documents have received the nation’s highest security protection — code word. The release to the public of as much of this information as possible — the drafts, the final report and Berger’s notes — would go a long way in explaining exactly what Berger was up to. I wonder if the Kerry campaign and the Clintonoids would support this?

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