Los Alamos on the Potomac
President Clinton national security adviser, Sandy Berger, is the focus of a Justice Department 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 has learned.
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.
Berger said, ""I deeply regret the sloppiness involved", demonstrating the little known fact that it is common to stick documents of all descriptions into pants, especially when you are looking for places to store classified material. As of this writing the story had not yet found its way into the Washington Post or the New York Times although the incident apparently took place at least some weeks ago.
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.
Following on the recent revelations that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson lied to discredit the Bush administrations claim that Saddam was seeking uranium yellow cake in Africa and a 9/11 Commission involvement that Iran was linked to at least 10 of the September 11 attackers one might be forgiven for thinking that there were efforts to twist the facts to suit a political agenda. It's time to dust off those old Watergate adages: 'It's always the cover up that gets you' and 'Follow the money'.
Reader DN links to the Seattle Times
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.
... Justice Department officials have told the Sept. 11 commission of the Berger incident and the nature of the documents in case commissioners wanted more information, officials said. The commission is expected to release its final report Thursday. Congressional intelligence committees, however, have not been formally notified.
Berger is the second high-level Clinton-era official to face controversy over taking classified information home. 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