Berger hid doc­u­ments un­der a trailer out­side

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Jerry Seper

For­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Samuel R. Berger, fined $50,000 for tak­ing clas­si­fied doc­u­ments from the Na­tional Archives, hid the pa­pers un­der a con­struc­tion trailer where they later could eas­ily be re­trieved, a re­port on Dec. 20 said.

The Na­tional Archives Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral said that dur­ing a 2003 visit to the fa­cil­ity, Mr. Berger left the build­ing un- es­corted for a break, dur­ing which time he “placed the doc­u­ments un­der a trailer in an ac­ces­si­ble con­struc­tion area out­side Archives 1 (the main Archives build­ing).”

The re­port said Mr. Berger ac­knowl­edged that he later re­trieved the doc­u­ments from the con­struc­tion area and brought them to his of­fice.

Mr. Berger, who served as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser un­der Pres­i­dent Clin­ton from 1997 to 2000,

plead­edguilty­inApril2005­toamis­de­meanor charge of unau­tho­rized re­moval and re­ten­tion of clas­si­fied ma­te­rial.The­ma­te­ri­al­in­cluded­doc­u­ments out­lin­ing the gov­ern­ment’s knowl­ed­ge­ofter­ror­ist­threatsinthe United States dur­ing the 2000 New Year’s cel­e­bra­tion.

He was fined $50,000 by a fed­eral judge, or­dered to per­form 100 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice and barred from ac­cess to clas­si­fied ma­te­rial for three years. The top Clin­ton ad­viser had faced a year in prison and a $100,000fine,bu­ta­pleaa­gree­mentin the­casere­ducedthe­fine­and­kepthim out of jail.

The re­moval oc­curred while Mr. Berg­er­wasprepar­ing­totes­ti­fy­be­fore theSeptem­ber11­com­mis­sion­in­ves­ti­gating­in­tel­li­gence­and­se­cu­ri­ty­fail­ures,rais­ingques­tion­s­aboutwhether he was at­tempt­ing to cover up the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism poli­cies and ac­tions.

Mr. Berger, with au­tho­riza­tion fromMr.Clin­ton,al­sowas­re­view­ing Na­tion­alSe­cu­ri­tyCoun­cil­doc­u­ments on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, Su­dan and re­lated pres­i­den­tial cor­re­spon­dence­to­pre­pare­fortes­ti­mony be­fore the House and Se­nate intelligence com­mit­tees.

In his tele­vised tes­ti­mony to the Septem­ber 11 com­mis­sion, Mr. Berger said the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra- tion’s “sus­tained at­ten­tion” to ter­ror­ist­threat­sand“rig­or­ous­ac­tions” had foiled a ter­ror­ist threat in De­cem­ber1999­to­bom­bair­portsinthe United States.

But At­tor­ney Gen­eral John Ashcroft told the com­mis­sion that he saw some of the doc­u­ments that had turnedup­miss­ingfromtheArchives and that the plot was stopped with “luck play­ing a ma­jor role.”

Dur­ing his sen­tenc­ing in Septem­ber, Mr. Berger told the court that he let “con­sid­er­a­tions of per­sonal con­ve­nience over­ride clear rules of han­dling clas­si­fied ma­te­rial.”

“In this case, I failed. I will not again,” he said.

Thein­spec­tor­gen­eral’sre­port,first madepub­licbytheAs­so­ci­at­edPress, said that when Archives em­ploy­ees first sus­pected Mr. Berger was re­mov­ing clas­si­fied doc­u­ments, they failed to no­tify any law-en­force­ment agency.Ital­so­saidArchivesem­ploy­ees­did­not­feelthatthere­wase­nough in­for­ma­tion to con­front some­one of Mr. Berger’s stature.

The re­port said Mr. Berger re­moved four doc­u­ments from the fa­cil­ity.

The­gov­ern­mentchargedthatMr. Berger “know­ingly re­moved clas­si­fied doc­u­ments from the Na­tional ArchivesandRecord­sAd­min­is­tra­tion and stored and re­tained such doc­u­ments at places,” in­clud­ing his of­fice in Wash­ing­ton.

Mr. Berger ini­tially claimed he took­the­do­c­u­mentsas­there­sulto­fan “hon­est mis­take,” but later ad­mit­ted that he placed the clas­si­fied records in his pants and jacket and put other clas­si­fied doc­u­ments in a leather port­fo­lio.

In Oc­to­ber, sev­eral top House Repub­li­cans asked for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and­com­mit­tee­hear­ingstode­ter­mine which doc­u­ments were “de­stroyed, re­moved or are miss­ing” as a re­sult of Mr. Berger’s ad­mit­ted theft.

In a let­ter to the House Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee, the law­mak­er­saskedChair­manThomasM. Davis III, Vir­ginia Repub­li­can, to in­ves­ti­gate­whetherthere­wascrim­i­nal mis­con­ductinther­e­moval­ofthe­clas­si­fied doc­u­ments by the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial.

Democrats will as­sume con­trol of Congress next month, and the re­quest for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is ex­pected to be shelved.

The Wash­ing­ton Times

Clin­ton ad­viser Samuel R. Berger

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