The Corner

Re: Berger

Mona, I hadn’t heard that.  If it’s true, I obviously feel very sorry for Berger and his family. 

But, I would note that his theft of highly classified information, and attendant lying about it, did not happen yesterday.  It occurred four years ago.  It was carried out over a course of months with great care and stealthiness.  At the time, Berger was the Clinton administration’s chosen liaison for purposes of the 9/11 Commission — obviously his friends did not see him as in anyway unfit.  In the interim, he testified before the Commission, was a top advisor to the Kerry campaign, continued to be a public commentator, conducted extensive negotiations with the Justice Department, and entered a guilty plea – all with no evident mental incapacity or hint of any any other relevant medical condition, even though such a condition might have provided both a defense that he was not in his right mind when he took his actions and a claim that he was not fit to stand trial or otherwise dispose of his case.  (Indeed, under federal rules, he had to have been asked, before a court could accept his guilty plea, whether there were any mental or medical conditions that were relevant to his state of mind in entering the plea, and both his counsel and the government would have been bound to inform the court if they had any doubt that Berger was in his right mind — either at the time of the crime or the time of the plea).

Moreover, Berger negotiated for, and got Justice to agree to, a provision that he would only lose his security clearance for a period of three years.  Clearly, this was done with an eye toward getting his clearance back in 2008, in time to serve in future years for the next administration. 

Further, given the egregiousness of Berger’s conduct and Justice’s inexplicable decision to give him a mere slap on the wrist, it would have been greatly in both their interests to disclose a condition like a brain tumor if that had had anything whatsoever to do with the case and how it was resolved.

So I certainly hope Berger is not ill, much less gravely ill.  But I don’t know how a brain tumor now would shed much light on what happened back then.

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