Imagine for a moment that Paul Wolfowitz was proved to have stolen classified documents from the National Archives and destroyed them by hand late one night in a lobbyist’s office on K Street in Washington. Somehow, I would guess, “honest mistake” would not be an adequate explanation for The New York Times..
Imagine, in fact, YOU getting caught destroying secret documents that you had stolen from the government. Wouldn’t you expect, say, felony charges to be filed? Maybe even treason? How about a 22 month interrogation at Guantanamo?
Yet when “Sandy” Berger, the former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, admits to doing exactly that he is fined a couple of thousand dollars and has his security clearance suspended for a few years. No doubt there is some shame involved with an advisor to the President for national security matters losing his security clearance just as there might be if the nation’s highest law enforcement official were to lose his license to practice law, but the punishment seems a bit half-hearted.
I mean, what do you have to do to lose your security clearance permanently if stealing secret documents from a government facility, sneaking them past security guards and cutting them up into tiny bits with scissors in the darkened privacy of your office as a registered foreign agent doesn’t reach the standard?
No use lamenting Washington’s multiple standards. More interesting even than why a grown man would call himself Sandy, is why would Berger want to alter the historical record regarding the Clinton Administration’s national security activities? Do you suppose that out of modesty he wanted to conceal that fact that he and the Administration were doing an outstanding job of protecting the United States from terrorist attack and were working heroically behind the scenes to capture or kill Osama bin Laden? Was he afraid that some of the good work of his team would make the Bush Administration look bad in comparison and he was eager to save them from embarrassment?
I have no idea what Berger was doing in the office with the scissors. I do know that I’d be looking at some prison time had it been me instead of him. And that’s not just because I am the greater threat to national security.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Clinton Foreign Policy Team
Posted by Murphy at 7:00 PM