Friday, August 12, 2005

Why Was Berger's Sentencing Postponed?

Curiouser and curiouser. Back in July when Sandy Berger was scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty to charges of removing classified documents from the National Archives, this was what the Free Republic news report had to say:

Sentencing for former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who pled guilty in April to stealing and destroying top secret terrorism documents from the National Archives, has been delayed, has learned.

Asked why Berger wasn't sentenced as scheduled on Friday, July 8, a Justice Department spokesman told NewsMax on Tuesday that Berger's sentencing has been postponed till September.

The spokesman declined to offer an explanation for the delay. Repeated calls asking about the postponement to Berger's lawyer, Washington, D.C. attorney Lanny Breuer, went unreturned.

Federal District Court's U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson, who is presiding over the Berger case, also did not return a call inquiring about its disposition.
After Justice Department prosecutor Noel Hillman allowed Berger to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, he requested what some consider an extraordinarily light sentence given the gravity of the crime - a $10,000 fine, a three-year suspension of Berger security clearance and no jail time.

The recommendation for leniency was in stark contrast to the comments of Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who suggested after the document theft story broke that Berger could be headed to jail.

"We take issues of classified information very, very seriously," Comey told reporters, before adding, "All felonies in the federal system bring with them the promise of jail time, that's all I can say about that."

Prosecutor Hillman's recommendation would still have to be approved by Magistrate Robinson, a prospect that is expected but not assured.

Under Justice Department guidelines, Berger's misdemeanor plea could still yield a $100,000 fine and a year in prison.

Since the announcement of Berger's light sentence, several online petitions have sprung up, urging Magistrate Robinson to impose a stiffer penalty.

It's not clear whether the delay in Berger's sentencing has anything to do with a reluctance on Robinson's part to accept Hillman's recommendation.

What is extremely interesting is that there are no mainstream media links from googling "berger sentencing postponed" and they all come from the same source (like the one above). It was not reported in any MSM newspaper that I could discover. No one involved in the case would answer any questions (which goes against the idea that this was a mere procedural postponement).

Why was his sentencing postponed? Why was he scheduled to get such a light sentence, when his actions were tantamount to espionage/treason in time of war--even though he claimed that stuffing classified documents into his pants and socks was "an honest mistake"? What kind of deal has been struck for his cooperation--and why?

It is astonishing how UNcurious the media have been about this.

UPDATE: Sigmund, Carl & Alfred have done a little digging, and sent me the following information in an email:
I found this- a story, which references an AP story on Berger's sentencing delay. It is an AP story that was linked to CNN (click on dateline/location)- and that CNN page is no longer available (which is interesting in itself, as CNN keeps everything!)
(2:28 pm)

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