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Berger cops a plea

"Inadvertently" my ass.

When the issue surfaced last year, Mr. Berger insisted that he had removed the classified material inadvertently. But in the plea agreement reached with prosecutors, he is expected to admit that he intentionally removed copies of five classified documents, destroyed three and misled staff members at the National Archives when confronted about it, according to an associate of Mr. Berger's who is involved in his defense but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plea has not been formalized in court.

(emphasis mine)


He did indeed admit that he lied as part of the agreement.

And the fallout in the MSM was the equivalent of a tree falling in a forest.

Now, substitute the name Rice for Berger and we'd be reading headlines in the Times like this:


Waxman, Pelosi Demand Hearings

pope dead at 84.

While I don't think that Berger should be allowed to hold any public position as a result of this legal action, the following WSJ article does add some perspective.

Berger's Plea
The Justice Department shows admirable restraint.

Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, April 6, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

We've never been considered soft on the Clinton Administration or its leading personalities. So we hope we'll have some credibility, especially with our friends on the right, when we say that the misdemeanor plea bargain struck by the Justice Department last week with former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger looks to be a reasonable outcome.

In the plea, Mr. Berger admits to knowingly taking and destroying copies of classified documents from the National Archives while preparing for his testimony to the 9/11 Commission. When the illegal behavior came to light last summer, suspicions were raised (including on this page) that Mr. Berger may have been trying to deny evidence to what was then a highly polarized Commission.

Those suspicions were amply justified at the time. Some of the documents Mr. Berger honed in on were multiple iterations of a sensitive "after-action" report on the Clinton Administration's response to the al Qaeda threat around the year 2000 celebrations, and he was obviously lying (he now admits) when he said last year that the documents had been taken inadvertently and as part of an "honest mistake." After a long investigation, however, 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.
More than a few conservatives have been crying foul, or whitewash, in part because Mr. Berger's plea means he'll likely avoid jail and lose his security clearance for only three years. So 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."

It's worth noting that Mr. Berger will still have to explain his actions to a judge at sentencing--a judge who could reject Justice's recommendation and give him to up a year in jail. We hope the judge does insist on a full explanation of motive. Lesser officials have received harsher penalties for more minor transgressions, so a complete airing of the facts will show the public that justice is being done. But given the minimal damage from the crime, this looks to be a case where prosecutors have shown some commendable restraint against a high-powered political figure.

I should've said "illegal" action.

What happened to the trade off to get Mr. Burger off lite? Bush was supposed to receive some confurmed judges. Oh wait the Senate minority leader didn't make the cut. LOL

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