I admit I haven't been listening to the right wing nuts lately so I guess, from reading Cat's and Deer's responses, that they're banging on Sandy Berger again trying to assuage any stinging sensation amongst the Conservative ranks over the conviction of Libby. This, however, is not a partisan thread but, since there are misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and factual inaccuracies let's review the final outcome of the Berger case briefly;
On July 19, 2004, it was revealed that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating Berger for unlawfully mishandling classified documents in October 2003, by removing them from a National Archives reading room prior to testifying before the 9/11 Commission. The documents were commissioned from Richard Clarke covering internal assessments of the Clinton administration's handling of the unsuccessful 2000 millennium attack plots.
When initially questioned by reporters, Berger claimed that the removal of top-secret documents in his attache-case and handwritten notes in his jacket and pants pockets was accidental. He later, in a guilty plea, admitted to deliberately removing materials and then cutting them up with scissors.
Berger eventually pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material on April 1, 2005. Under a plea agreement, U.S. attorneys recommended a fine of $10,000 and a loss of security clearance for three years. However, on September 8, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson increased the fine to $50,000 at Berger's sentencing. Robinson stated, "The court finds the fine [recommended by government prosecutors] is inadequate because it doesn't reflect the seriousness of the offense." Berger was also ordered to serve two years of probation and to perform 100 hours of community service.
Critics believe Berger's motives were more sinister than a mere mishandling of classified documents. They suggest he destroyed primary evidence revealing anti-terrorism policies and actions, and that his motive was to permanently erase Clinton administration pre-9/11 mistakes from the public record. Public statements to this effect have been made by talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, former Clinton campaign advisor Dick Morris, USA Today reporter Jack Kelley, multiple times by Fox News correspondent John Gibson (the last as recently as December 2006), and former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Republican-Illinois), who said: "What information could be so embarrassing that a man with decades of experience in handling classified documents would risk being caught pilfering our nation's most sensitive secrets?"
After a long investigation, the lead prosecutor Noel Hillman, chief of the Justice Department's public integrity section, stated that Berger only removed classified copies of data stored on hard drives stored in the National Archives, and that no original material was destroyed. His and the FBI's opinion of the case initially led The Wall Street Journal to editorialize against the allegations, stating in part:
“ Justice says the picture that emerged is of a man who knowingly and recklessly violated the law in handling classified documents, but who was not trying to hide any evidence. Prosecutors believe Mr. Berger genuinely wanted to prepare for his testimony before the 9/11 Commission but felt he was somehow above having to spend numerous hours in the Archives as the rules required, and that he didn't exactly know how to return the documents once he'd taken them out... We called Justice Department Public Integrity chief prosecutor Noel Hillman, who assured us that Mr. Berger did not deny any documents to history. 'There is no evidence that he intended to destroy originals,' said Mr. Hillman. 'There is no evidence that he did destroy originals. We have objectively and affirmatively confirmed that the contents of all the five documents at issue exist today and were made available to the 9/11 Commission.' ”
Despite prosecutors' statements, some critics continued to make unsubstantiated allegations. This led The Wall Street Journal to reiterate its position, stating "Some people won't let a bad conspiracy theory go". The paper went on to say: "The confusion seems to stem from the mistaken idea that there were handwritten notes by various Clinton Administration officials in the margins of these documents, which Mr. Berger may have been able to destroy. But that's simply an 'urban myth,' prosecutor Hillman tells us, based on a leak last July that was 'so inaccurate as to be laughable.' In fact, the five iterations of the anti-terror 'after-action' report at issue in the case were printed out from a hard drive at the Archives and have no notations at all."
On December 20, 2006, more than a year after Berger plead guilty and was sentenced, a report issued by the archives inspector detailed how Berger had perpetrated the crime. Inspector General Paul Brachfeld reported that Berger took a break to go outside without an escort. "In total, during this visit, he removed four documents ... Mr. Berger said he placed the documents under a trailer in an accessible construction area outside Archives 1 (the main Archives building)." Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.
The report also stated "There were not any handwritten notes on the documents Mr. Berger removed from the archives. Mr. Berger did not believe there was unique information in the three documents he destroyed. Mr. Berger never made any copies of these documents." In the end, according to the report, "[Mr. Berger] substituted his sense of sensitivity instead of thinking of classification" in deciding to remove the documents.
In January 2007, departing Republican staff of The United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report titled Sandy Berger's Theft of Classified Documents: Unanswered Questions. It states that the FBI or the Department of Justice never questioned Berger about two earlier visits he made on May 30, 2002 and July 18 2003, when he reviewed White House working papers not yet inventoried by the National Archives, and speculates that, had Berger previously been entirely successful in actions at which he was later caught, "nobody would know they were gone." It also contains the FBI's statement as to why they concluded there was no exposure on those dates: "Berger was under constant supervision". Despite senior Bush Administration officials giving the report's authors highly unusual access to internal information about an ongoing DOJ investigation, the report contains no new facts that the career prosecutors handling the case overlooked.
The report did, however, cause the Wall Street Journal to, in January 2007, retract their initial opinion of the case, saying there are substantial questions concerning the truth of Berger's statements and that other documents may have been removed. They now argue that Berger's taking of multiple copies of the same document contradict his statement that he took them only for his personal research, since they note that he could have simply kept his copy. However neither they, nor the committee report, detail an alternate theory in which multiple thefts of the same document are key. Mr. Berger continues to insist that he took the copies of the same document for personal convenience, and thought them overclassified (i.e. the information they contained was not actually sensitive to national security).
I'm not really sure how, although I think I may understand why, anyone still thinks there are any teeth to the Sandy Berger docugate drama -- especially after the Conservative newspaper the Wall Street Journal issued this op-ed on April 8, 2005;
Some people won't let a bad conspiracy theory go. We're referring to those who loudly assert that former NSC adviser Sandy Berger was trying to protect the Clinton Administration when he illegally removed copies of sensitive documents from the National Archives in late 2003.
On Wednesday, we quoted Justice Department prosecutor Noel Hillman that no original documents were destroyed, and that the contents of all five at issue still exist and were made available to the 9/11 Commission. But that point didn't register with some readers, who continue to suggest a vast, well, apparently a vast left- and right-wing conspiracy. The Washington Times, the Rocky Mountain News and former Clintonite Dick Morris have also been peddling dark suspicions based on misinformation.
The confusion seems to stem from the mistaken idea that there were handwritten notes by various Clinton Administration officials in the margins of these documents, which Mr. Berger may have been able to destroy. But that's simply an "urban myth," prosecutor Hillman tells us, based on a leak last July that was "so inaccurate as to be laughable." In fact, the five iterations of the anti-terror "after-action" report at issue in the case were printed out from a hard drive at the Archives and have no notations at all.
--conservatives don't do themselves any credit when they are as impervious to facts as the loony left.
I was wondering where you all have been during the recent threads on Pelosi, Hillary and the like.
I can't speak for anyone but myself, and even that would be hard to say since - I haven't really noticed any threads lately besides the Gay-Rights Activists bashing one -- but, it's possible I was shoveling snow, playing guitar, building guitars, having my truck totaled by a moron who thought he could do anything because he had an SUV with all-wheel-drive, spending time with my kids, or doing something else that actually interested me.
and writes an Op-Ed citing Cheney as the one who sent him, when it was his wife
three CIA officials testified that Wilson's trip was in fact in direct response to Cheney's inquiry as stated by Wilson.
Most reporters in DC worth their salt knew who that was. So Wilson, Plame and the Anti-War crowd cry Foul! and immediately implicate the White House, even though Armitage worked for the State Department.
From the facts of this case we know that Rove and, of course, Libby, two White House officials -- were in fact spreading the word too -- the fact that Armitage leaked to Novak and that he was the first to take the bait does nothing to exonerate the White House -- in fact --it was the jury's contention that Cheney directed Libby to do the leaking.
I didn't think there was anyone left who was still trying to cast doubt on the covert status of Plame.