Con­gress­man: Berger theft case is much more dam­ag­ing than re­ported

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

Samuel R. Berger’s theft of doc­u­ments from the Na­tional Archives com­pro­mised na­tional se­cu­rity “much more than orig­i­nally dis­closed” and re­sulted in “in­com­plete and mis­lead­ing” in­for­ma­tion be­ing given to the Septem­ber 11 com­mis­sion, says the for­mer chair­man of the House Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee.

“It is now also clear that Mr. Berger was will­ing to go to ex­tra­or­di­nary lengths to com­pro­mise na­tional se­cu­rity, ap­par­ently for his own con­ve­nience,” Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Vir­ginia Repub­li­can, said on Jan. 9.

“No one ever told the com­mis­sion Mr. Berger had ac­cess to orig­i­nal doc­u­ments he could have taken with­out de­tec­tion.”

In Oc­to­ber, Mr. Davis led an ef­fort by House Repub­li­cans to in­ves­ti­gate and hold hear­ings on which doc­u­ments might have been “de­stroyed, re­moved or were miss­ing” af­ter vis­its to the Na­tional Archives by Mr. Berger, Pres­i­dent Clin­ton’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser from 1997 to 2001.

Mr. Davis said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that the full ex­tent of Mr. Berger’s doc­u­ment re­moval can never be known and, conse-

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quently, the Jus­tice De­part­ment could not as­sure the Septem­ber 11 com­mis­sion — which was in­ves­ti­gat­ing intelligence and se­cu­rity fail­ures — it re­ceived all the doc­u­ments to which Mr. Berger had ac­cess.

“We now know Mr. Berger left stolen highly clas­si­fied doc­u­ments at acon­struc­tion­site­toavoid­de­tec­tion,” he­said.“We­knowMr.Berg­erin­sisted on pri­vacy at times to al­low him to con­ceal doc­u­ments that he stole.”

Mr. Davis noted that dur­ing three vis­it­stotheArchives,Mr.Berg­er­was given ac­cess to work­ing pa­pers of Na­tion­alSe­cu­ri­tyCoun­cil­staffmem­bers, in­clud­ing Mr. Berger, and their con­tent was not in­ven­to­ried by the Archives at the doc­u­ment level. He said Mr. Berger fo­cused solely on orig­i­nal doc­u­ments dur­ing his first two­vis­it­sandthere­was“noway­tode­ter­mine” whether he “swiped any of th­ese orig­i­nal doc­u­ments.”

The Na­tional Archives Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral re­ported last mon­ththatMr.Berg­er­hid­doc­u­ments un­der a con­struc­tion trailer where they could be re­trieved later.

Lanny Breuer, Mr. Berger’s at­tor­ney, said the mat­ter was thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated by the Jus­tice Depart­ment­for­morethant­woyearsand­ef­fec­tively closed for more than a year. He­saidthere­port’scon­clu­sion­swere based on “pure con­jec­ture.”

“Not a sin­gle fact is of­fered to sup­port them,” Mr. Breuer said.

“Sandy Berger made a mis­take. But he has ad­mit­ted that mis­take, fully co­op­er­ated with the gov­ern- ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, paid his debt to so­ci­ety, and moved on. It’s time for the­new­con­gres­sion­almi­nor­i­tytodo the same.”

Mr. Davis de­scribed the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s as­ser­tion that Mr. Berger’s state­ments were cred­i­ble af­ter­be­ing­caugh­tas“mis­placed.”He said, “One wouldn’t rely on the fox to be truth­ful af­ter be­ing nabbed in the hen­house. But the Jus­tice De­part­ment ap­par­ently did.”

Jus­tice De­part­ment spokesman Bryan Sierra said the de­part­ment “has­no­ev­i­dencethatSandyBerger’s ac­tions­de­privedthe9/11com­mis­sion of­doc­u­ments,andwe­s­tand­by­our­in­ves­ti­ga­tion of this mat­ter.”

Mr.Berg­er­plead­edguilty­inApril 2005 to a mis­de­meanor charge of unau­tho­rized re­moval and re­ten­tion of clas­si­fied ma­te­rial, in­clud­ing doc­u­ments out­lin­ing the gov­ern­ment’s knowl­edge of ter­ror­ist threats to the United States.

He was fined $50,000 and barred from ac­cess to clas­si­fied ma­te­rial for three years. He had faced a year in prison and a $100,000 fine, but a plea agree­ment with the Jus­tice De­part­ment re­duced the fine and kept him out of prison.

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