Monday, September 25, 2006


Clinton's behavior has made some (including me) think back again to the strange incident of Sandy Berger's document-stuffed pants. As a psychiatrist, I am always trying to understand people's behavior, and the Berger brouhaha has always intrigued me. So we keep coming back to Sandy Berger's pants again and again. Now, Andy McCarthy has this to say:
Berger smuggled documents out of the archives, destroyed at least some of them, and apparently made false statements to investigators about what he'd done. For some reason, the Justice Department allowed him to plead guilty to a mere misdemeanor (Scooter Libby, eat your heart out!). Even more astoundingly, the public has never been fully apprised of the documents that were taken so we could evaluate why Berger might have done this. Not at all astoundingly, the mainstream press has been virtually silent and has never demanded disclosure.

It has been publicly reported, by the Washington Post, for example, that what Berger removed were different drafts of the "after action review" written by Richard Clarke (on whom Clinton prominently relied in his diatribe yesterday) which judged how the administration had performed in response various terror plots at the turn of the Millennium.

Did Clarke judge the administration harshly? Were there various drafts because Clarke was pressed to water down some of his original criticisms? We don't know. We've never been told.

Part of the Justice Department's justification for the kit-gloves approach to Berger's prosecution was that no harm had really been done — there were copies of even the documents Berger destroyed, so the whole paper record could be reconstructed.

Well fine. Let's see it. Sure, redact out anything that still constitutes sensitive intelligence (hard to believe there's much over five years later, but, of course, intel methods and sources shouldn't be exposed). But how come during the 9/11 Commission hearings the press agitated until the Bush White House finally gave in and disclosed all kinds of highly classified materials ... including a Presidential Daily Briefing memo — one of the most closely held intelligence products in the government — but we have still, to this day, never seen or had thoroughly explained to us what Sandy Berger took out of the National Archives?

President Clinton wants historical accuracy? By all means, let's have it.

If we let people who have partisan agendas and personal legacies to protect, historical accuracy will always be the first thing to go.

Nevertheless, Berger behaved in the unbelievable manner he did for a real reason that was very important to him--more important than historical truth or national interest. As a national security advisor to the POTUS, he--probably more than anyone else--must have been aware how unethical; how illegal; and how incriminating some of those documents (or what was hand-written on them) were.

The public deserves to know the truth.

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