FEBRUARY 21, 2007
It appears that the Department of Justice helped cover the major security breach committed by Clinton’s national security advisor when he stole classified documents from the National Archives.
New details of Sandy Berger’s premeditated theft of highly classified terrorism documents in 2003 indicate a cover up among Justice Department officials who refused to notify the important commission that Berger intended to hide the stolen information from.
Berger took the documents from the National Archives as he prepared to testify, on the behalf of the Clinton Administration, before the September 11 Commission. He stole the files, hid them under a construction trailer and later tried to get a trash collector to retrieve them. He also destroyed and cut into small pieces several of the documents.
The National Archives Inspector General tried to force the Justice Department to notify September 11 Commission officials that Berger’s actions could have obstructed Clinton’s terrorism policies, but it refused. The commission’s former executive director, Philip Zelikow, now says the commission should have been told what Berger did because it would have triggered additional questions under oath. The commission’s general counsel said it was “unnerving” to later learn what Berger did.
It wasn’t until reading a Congressional report published earlier this year that commission members got the full scope of the severity of Berger’s actions. The scathing 61-page document said that the Justice Department cannot guarantee that Berger did not remove original copies of highly classified terrorism documents from the National Archives and the full extent of what he actually took will never be known.
It goes on to say that the country may never know the full effect of Berger’s misconduct and that his deliberate calculating actions to remove highly classified documents compromised the national security of this country in more ways than one.
Berger eventually pleaded guilty to unlawfully removing the classified files and got a tiny slap on the hand–$56,905 fine, 100 hours of community service and a three-year bar from accessing classified material. Incredibly enough, the judge (Deborah Robinson) imposed a stiffer penalty in the case than the Justice Department sought.
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