Sandy Berger, national security adviser under Clinton, is under investigation after removing highly classified terrorism documents and handwritten notes from a secure reading room during preparations for the Sept. 11 commission hearings. The Associated Press reports:
I wonder what Berger is trying to hide. You don't inadvertently stick documents in your pants. This gets even more interesting. According to the Associated Press Berger isn't the first high-level Clinton official to improperly remove classified information:
Berger's home and office were searched earlier this year by FBI agents armed with warrants after he voluntarily returned documents to the National Archives. However, still missing are some drafts of a sensitive after-action report on the Clinton administration's handling of al-Qaida terror threats during the December 1999 millennium celebration.
Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed handwritten notes he had made while reading classified anti-terror documents at the archives by sticking them in his jacket and pants. He also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio, they said.
"I deeply regret the sloppiness involved, but I had no intention of withholding documents from the commission, and to the contrary, to my knowledge, every document requested by the commission from the Clinton administration was produced," Berger said in a statement to the AP.
Lanny Breuer, one of Berger's attorneys, said his client has offered to cooperate fully with the investigation but had not yet been interviewed by the FBI or prosecutors. Berger has been told he is the subject of the criminal investigation, Breuer said.
Berger served as Clinton's national security adviser for all of the president's second term and most recently has been informally advising Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Clinton asked Berger last year to review and select the administration documents that would be turned over to the commission.
The FBI searches of Berger's home and office occurred after National Archives employees told agents they believed they saw Berger place documents in his clothing while reading sensitive Clinton administration papers and that some documents were then noticed missing, officials said.
When asked, Berger said he returned some classified documents that he found in his office and all of the handwritten notes he had taken from the secure room, but could not locate two or three copies of the highly classified millennium terror report.
"In the course of reviewing over several days thousands of pages of documents on behalf of the Clinton administration in connection with requests by the Sept. 11 commission, I inadvertently took a few documents from the Archives," Berger said.
"When I was informed by the Archives that there were documents missing, I immediately returned everything I had except for a few documents that I apparently had accidentally discarded," he said.
[. . .]
In the FBI search of his office, Berger also was found in possession of a small number of classified note cards containing his handwritten notes from the Middle East peace talks during the 1990s, but those are not a focus of the current criminal probe, officials and lawyers said.
Breuer said the Archives staff first raised concerns with Berger during an Oct. 2 review of documents that at least one copy of the post-millennium report he had reviewed earlier was missing. Berger was given a second copy that day, Breuer said.
Officials familiar with the investigation said Archives staff specially marked the documents and when the new copy and others disappeared, Archives officials called Clinton attorney Bruce Lindsey to report the disappearance.
Berger immediately returned all the notes he had taken, and conducted a search and located two copies of the classified documents on a messy desk in his office, Breuer said. An Archives official came to Berger's home to collect those documents but Berger couldn't locate the other missing copies, the lawyer said.
He retained counsel, and in January the FBI executed search warrants of a safe at Berger's home as well as his business office where he found some of the documents. Agents also failed to locate the missing documents.
Kevin Patrick at Blogs for Bush points out that Berger is "John Kerry's chief foreign policy adviser, Democratic Committee Platform member and someone seen as short-listed for a Kerry administration secretary of state."
Former CIA Director John Deutch was pardoned by Clinton just hours before Clinton left office in 2001 for taking home classified information and keeping it on unsecured computers at his home during his time at the CIA and Pentagon. Deutch was about to enter into a plea agreement for a misdemeanor charge of mishandling government secrets when the pardon was granted.
Michele Catalano also has the story posted at The Command Post, where a reader comments that Kerry is showing great foreign policy judgement with advisers like Wilson and Berger.
Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters posts:
From John Kerry's blog on restoring confidence in our intelligence and foreign relations:
As president, I will restore the credibility of our intelligence community by ensuring the basic integrity of the intelligence process. ...
Those who seek to lead have a duty to offer a clear vision of how we can make Americans safer and America more trusted and respected in the world.
Well, they're off to a fine start, by stealing documents from an investigative commission.