April 01, 2005

L'Affaire Berger

Er, can someone let me know too? I'm as curious as Hindrocket. (Hat Tip: Glenn)

Posted by Gregory at April 1, 2005 05:23 AM | TrackBack (7)
Comments

The news stories are all saying that (despite what Powerline says) only copies were destroyed.

Powerline appears to have no comments on their blog, so I'll post my thoughts here. What is their evidence that originals are lost - that "key documents... are gone forever?"

The stupid but not malicious explanation appears to be that Berger wanted to take his work home with him, accidentally smuggled out multiple copies of the same document and then (here is where the story becomes amazing) shredded 3 copies and did not shred, but rather returned, 2 other copies.

Speculating, another explanation is that he delivered these copies to his friends for their review, so that everyone could get their stories straight when questioned by the 9/11 committee. The missing documents weren't shredded by Berger, but instead are now in the hands of Al Gore, Bill Cohen, or whoever. Problems with that theory appear to be that you really don't need to smuggle 5 copies for that purpose, (smuggle one copy and take it to Kinko's) and one presumes that if Al Gore wants to go the Archives to see the documents, he can. Why have Berger steal them?

The less innocent explanation is that the multiple copies are in the archives because they aren't exactly identical copies. When a report is reviewed by multiple people in my office, for instance, n copies go out and n copies come back, with n different sets of comments in the margins. If what Berger took out of the Archives was 5 copies of a document with 5 different sets of comments by 5 Clinton Administration principles, one can well imagine a motivation for destroying 3 of them. Perhaps some of the principles said something they didn't want the Commission asking them about.

None of the explanations make sense, especially with the media reports explicitly saying that they were copies and not indicating at all that they weren't exact copies.

Posted by: MattJ at April 1, 2005 06:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ok. The Washington Post has this:

Archives officials have said previously that Berger had copies only, and that no original documents were lost. It remains unclear whether Berger knew that, or why he destroyed three versions of a document but left two other versions intact. Officials have said the five versions were largely similar, but contained slight variations as the after-action report moved around different agencies of the executive branch.

This tends to support my third, and least, innocent explanation for Berger's 'error'. If the unnamed 'officials' are telling the truth, then some information is lost forever.

Of course the Archive folks are still saying that no originals are lost, so maybe Berger was given photocopies of 5 drafts of that report, and he stole all of them and destroyed 3 of them. That fits everyone's version of the facts, apparently, but leads to the conclusion that Berger is insane.

Posted by: MattJ at April 1, 2005 06:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Can Democrats be trusted with national security?

Posted by: Liam at April 1, 2005 05:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I do think the theory that makes most sense is that Berger destroyed handwritten comments made by as-yet-unidentified Clinton Administration officials. It remains to be seen whether there is any way those officials can be identified.

But to me the most stupefyingly amazing part of this story is that Sandy Berger can get his security clearance back in just three years -- in time to do more mischief if called upon in the 2008 election cycle, which could just conceivably involve someone named Clinton. I'd have thought that a person who used his secuity clearance in furtherance of a crime might be in for a permanent disqualification.

Posted by: Patrick at April 3, 2005 10:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here's another possibility -- the different copies had minor text changes intentionally, so if one of them got leaked and they got back a copy of the leaked one they'd know which one got leaked.

And if they depended on the original copies to compare against, losing three of them would leave it completely unclear which one was leaked.

On the other side of it, this was a plea-bargain. If they'd insisted on a trail he could surely embarrass the Bush administration more than they could stand. So they have to limit the punishment to something he's willing to accept, hence 3 years disqualified.

Posted by: J Thomas at April 3, 2005 05:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In practical terms, even temporary removal of Berger's security clearance means he's gotten his last government assignment. He might get assigned to blue ribbon commissions investigating the state of trails in the national parks or the value of hydrofoils for regional mass transit, but no future President would risk the political fallout bound to result from Berger's appointment to a national security job.

Posted by: Zathras at April 3, 2005 09:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Shorter J Thomas:
Move along, there, you. Nothing to see here...

Posted by: BradH at April 4, 2005 01:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

More comments on this subject at http://beldar.blogs.com/

Posted by: Luc at April 4, 2005 01:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Matt J wrote:
The news stories are all saying that (despite
what Powerline says) only copies were destroyed.

What is [Powerline's] evidence that originals are
lost - that 'key documents... are gone forever?'"

It's simple: The folks at the Archives--seeking to minimize the appearance of their incompetence at letting Berg(l)ar make off with a butt-load of docs--assert that the docs are merely "copies", and that the originals (presumably more valuable) are still safely in their care. The Archives people can get away with this because they know the media won't ask them the pointed and obvious question: "Were all of those so-called 'copies' *identical*?"

Because of course, the media don't want to skewer Billy Bob Clinton's former National Security Advisor.

Of course, Berg(l)ar's theft of *copies* only makes sense if he knows that neither the *original* NOR any other existing copy has anything harmful to Clinton on it. Thus, clearly (as Powerline and others have concluded), the damaging material is in handwritten marginal notes. This is a normal procedure when lots of agencies have to sign off on a doc--there's rarely time for a single copy to wind thru 20 or more offices for approval.

Matt again:
The stupid but not malicious explanation appears
to be that Berger wanted to take his work home
with him, accidentally smuggled out multiple
copies of the same document and then (here is
where the story becomes amazing) shredded 3
copies and did not shred, but rather returned, 2
other copies.

I agree: this is indeed a stupid but not malicious explanation. Just kidding, Matt. But it's hard to believe that anyone could *seriously* claim that he "accidentally" *smuggled* not just one--not two--not three--but *five* copies out. *One* we might believe. But *five*??

We'd have an easier time believing him if he'd said "Well, the receptionist was this total *babe*, so I decided to, um, impress her with my, uh, 'package', y'know? But one document didn't quite have the effect I wanted--you know, I wanted to *reeeallly* make her notice my, uh, goods. So I rolled 3 or 4 of 'em together. And then when I left later, of course, I forgot they were in there."

Now *that's* something I could believe.

Matt again:
"The less innocent explanation is that the multiple copies are in the archives because they aren't exactly identical copies. When a report is reviewed by multiple people in my office, for instance, n copies go out and...come back with different sets of comments in the margins... Perhaps some of the principles [sic] said something they didn't want the Commission asking them about."

I think you've got it, Matt.

"None of the explanations make sense, especially with the media reports explicitly saying that they were copies and not indicating at all that they weren't exact copies."

Again, of course, the MSM doesn't want to ask any pointed questions of a Democrat. One almost expects them to ask, "Was it traumatic for you when you got home and discovered those documents stuffed in you socks? Did you need psychological counseling afterward, for the shock?"

What's really enlightening is to consider how the same MSM would respond if an official in the *Bush Administration* smuggled docs out of the archives that plausibly had notes on 'em pertaining to what the FBI may have told Bush about the threat of a domestic hijacking around September of '01. And then said official destroyed those docs, but claimed it was "an accident".

Oh yeah, the MSM would surely react just like they have with Berg(l)ar. Sure.

--sf

Posted by: sf at April 4, 2005 03:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rumour has it that on one of the Clarke reports contained handwritten notes from Clinton that say

"Clarke's plan will definitely deal a knockout blow to Al Quaeda. But remember, Bin Laden has a copy of that snuff film where they caught me strangling that crack whore at Mena airport. He says if we dont let his operatie Mohammed Atta into the country, he will reveal it to the world."

To think, we were this close to catching those bastards.

Posted by: Wally at April 4, 2005 10:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Clinton couldn't spell operative? That's an impeachable offense.

Posted by: washerdreyer at April 5, 2005 06:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

sdogubtuami poiuyt http://ghjklcahk.com/

Posted by: Godfrey at April 5, 2005 07:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

WSJ takes a dive on it. That sure is interesting given all the above. Loks like the elite are circling the wagons.

Posted by: Mrs. Davis at April 6, 2005 02:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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