Patterico's Pontifications

4/6/2005

Sandy Berg(l)er

Filed under: General — Xrlq @ 7:42 pm



Did Sandy Berger take originals or copies? I still don’t know. Do you?

I use the word “original” to include any document that bears original handwritten notations, even if the rest of the document is otherwise an exact copy of another document.

I also include any document that is substantively different from other versions, even if it is otherwise a copy. (This commonly occurs with drafts.)

I’m not sure that officials of the National Archives use the term “original” in the same way I do. So when they say Sandy Berger took only copies, what do they mean?

Power Line summarized the available evidence, and concluded here that Berger took originals (as I have defined the term).

But if he took irreplaceable originals, that seems to me far more significant. I have previously described the distinction as “the difference between mere incredible sloppiness, and a potential cover-up.”

This seems like a good topic for some enterprising journalist — and I include bloggers in that description.

Note: This is actually Patterico’s post, not Xrlq’s.

UPDATE: Legally, of course, it makes no difference. I said this originally but cut the passage for space reasons.

8 Responses to “Sandy Berg(l)er”

  1. Patterico, you need to be reading my site on a more regular basis.

    The relevant information:

    ISIKOFF: According to Noel Hellmann, the chief of the Public Integrity section at the Justice Department, he said nothing has been lost to the U.S. government archives.

    [I am aware of Hellman’s claim; it is referenced in Power Line’s post. But I find it hard to square with the other evidence: Berger having taken and destoyed documents with original marginalia. Nobody has *clearly* said that we still have copies of those marginalia. Power Line thinks we don’t. Obviously Berger thought no other copies existed. Why else destroy what he had?

    I’m not satisfied that the press has gotten the full story. — Patterico.]

    Matthew Hoy (d3f447)

  2. My understanding is that Berger took multiple copies of the same document–they differed by having different HANDWRITTEN NOTES on them.

    Those *notes* are now lost.

    I could be wrong (notice how I have no link), but it’s something to look into. And it would provide someone like Hellmann with wiggle room to claim nothing has been lost.

    Bostonian (0198d8)

  3. Why would the #1 man in Nat Security not know he was destroying copies? Does it make sense to destroy copies or originals? As a bean countger the destruction of copies when other copies and originals exist makes no cents! I do no buy it!

    Rod Stanton (d1994c)

  4. I guess that’s the problem with a plea bargain isn’t it? The only thing Bergler admits to is wrongdoing, and he pays a small fine. Oh gee, thanks for the info. Someone explain to me what the reason for the plea bargain is, other than the obvious one of lazy prosecutors.

    Ladainian (91b3b2)

  5. Thank you patterico for addressing this.
    hugh hewitt has said that if the official word is that “nothing was destroyed” it is hard to argue with that.
    I find it very hard to believe that someone with top security clearance would take documents out of the archives and destroy them by mistake, oversight, etc. If he did, what does that say about the competency of the staff in the Clinton White House??
    who was assigned to sort through mr. berger’s trash cans, anyway?

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  6. Patterico, will you believe the Wall Street Journal?

    The confusion seems to stem from the mistaken idea that there were handwritten notes by various Clinton Administration officials in the margins of these documents, which Mr. Berger may have been able to destroy. But that’s simply an “urban myth,” prosecutor Hillman tells us, based on a leak last July that was “so inaccurate as to be laughable.” In fact, the five iterations of the anti-terror “after-action” report at issue in the case were printed out from a hard drive at the Archives and have no notations at all.

    “Those documents, emphatically, without doubt — I reviewed them myself — don’t have notations on them,” Mr. Hillman tells us. Further, “there is no evidence after comprehensive investigation to suggest he took anything other than the five documents at issue and they didn’t have notes.” Mr. Berger’s sentencing is scheduled for July, and Mr. Hillman assures us Justice’s sentencing memo will lay out the facts and “make sure Mr. Berger explains what he did and why he did it.”

    It’s not very sinister, but it is very stupid. This guy was the National Security Adviser for several years. He was on the short list for Kerry’s Secretary of State.

    He’s dumber than a bag of hammers.

    Hoystory (1c0ad7)

  7. P.

    I assume you’re trying to figure out whether there are still originals somewhere with/without the scribbles.

    However, if you trying to use the the originals-copies conundrum to judge the gravity of Burglar’s offense, it matters not. Absconding with either should have resulted in him doing time and being without a security clearance for life. Even making unauthorized copies of classified material is a no-no.

    Juliette (7ebcf6)

  8. I just like the story that Bill Clinton laughed out loud when he heard of what Berger had done. That tells you something right there, I think.

    Toby Petzold (cd28cf)


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