When the story broke that a former Clinton Administration National Security Advisor had removed highly classified documents from the national archives, and had destroyed some of them, Sandy Berger claimed it was an accident. Today it was announced along with his plead deal that Berger acknowledges the incidents were not inadvertent.
Under terms negotiated by Berger’s attorneys and the Justice Department, he has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and accept a three-year suspension of his national security clearance. These terms must be accepted by a judge before they are final, but Berger’s associates said yesterday he believes that closure is near on what has been an embarrassing episode during which he repeatedly misled people about what happened during two visits to the National Archives in September and October 2003.
I look at this news and can’t help but ask “Is that all?” On two occasions Berger removed documents related to an ongoing investigation into pre 9/11 intelligence. He destroyed several of those documents before returning others to the National Archive. He then lied through his teeth about the whole thing. This man will eventually get his security clearance back?
The fine is meaningless and I somehow doubt Berger will even notice paying it. But that he gets his clearance back – just in time to allow for the possibility of a role in a potential Democratic administration is appalling. His security clearance should be permanently reduced to the level of crossing guard.
This deal stinks and it sends a foul message about the state of justice and the value of national security.