Friday, October 13, 2006
Crimes a' Pant-load
Andy McCarthy at National Review Online makes a strong case for why the long delayed investigation into the actions of former Clinton Administration National Security Advisor Sandy Berger in handling classified information.
McCarthy highlights the grand hypocrisy of so many critics of the current Administration by presenting the following situation:
Imagine for a moment a public official of the highest order. He was a confidant of the vice president and the president. Entrusted with the most sensitive national defense information, he enjoyed full access to the gamut of our country’s deepest secrets. In short, he was as central as any member of the executive branch to the decisions on which hinged the security of nearly 300 million Americans.
The times were tumultuous and critics abounded. Some of them accused the administration of rank incompetence, of gratuitously putting loyal public servants lives at risk. The administration circled the wagons, and our high public official became its point-man for rebutting the charges. He used his extraordinary public trust to gain access to relevant classified information.
In his ardor to protect his principals, he went overboard. He was, to put it mildly, recklessly irresponsible with intelligence. When they learned of his actions, others in government decided there was no alternative: However reluctantly, an investigation had to be opened. Investigators confronted the high public official. He was, of course, under no obligation to speak. The Fifth Amendment gave him that protection. But he calculated that the political risk of refusing to appear cooperative was too great. So he submitted to questioning … and lied, wantonly.
Quickly, evidence mounted. The high official had obstructed an official investigation — one that the press and Democrats had clamored for; one that cost the public millions. The potential jeopardy mounted, too. Under federal law, making false statements to investigators is a felony — each individual lie exposing the declarant to as much as five years in jail. Obstruction of justice is at least equally grave. And more serious still is the purloining and misusing of intelligence — each instance exposing an offender to up to ten years’ incarceration. Our high public official was easily staring at a possibility of spending the remainder of his professional prime in a federal penitentiary.
Man, that sounds familiar. From recent press accounts, we all know of whom McCarthy speaks, right? Only for some of us, absolutely not for others.
For rather than advisor Lewis Libby, McCarthy’s forensic examination applies to Sandy Berger.
Do we remember? How can we forget? Here’s McCarthy’s account of the outrageous behavior of Sandy Berger:
Berger was permitted access to the national archives to prepare for his commission testimony (and to help prepare President Clinton for his). He used that public trust as an opportunity to filch, on at least two occasions, highly classified information — stuffing some of it into his clothing to avoid detection. This bizarre behavior caused authorities to investigate and discover the theft. In the ensuing investigation, Berger brazenly lied. He told the government that his undeniable removal of the intelligence was an honest mistake … only to admit later (as the Washington Times reported) that he had quite intentionally stuffed the documents into his pants, jacket and a leather portfolio.
That’s not the end of the story — not by a long-shot. Berger did not take just any documents. As recounted by National Review’s Byron York, among others, he took various drafts of a so-called “after-action report” prepared by top
I routinely handled classified information as part of my duties as an Intelligence Analyst for the US Army, Reserves, and Army National Guard, and I can assure you of one thing.
If I treated classified information as Sandy Berger did, I would have lost my access and my clearance, been formally reprimanded, and probably have done jail time, in addition to being relieved from any position of responsibility. Even the possibility of error or leak of information regularly place Intelligence professionals under clouds of doubt, suspicion, and administrative discipline.
These standards of classified document handling are well known, appreciated, and respected by Intelligence professionals. The same cannot be said of some Clinton Administration officials, and certainly those CIA, State Department, DoD, other government officials, and of course the Editorial Board of the New York Times.
That all goes without saying.
It is astounding, though, when you note the almost total silence from Administration critics and press sycophants, who so obviously ignore gross malfeasance from a partisan Clinton Administration official, intentionally obstructing critical investigations, and clearly acting to protect the reputations and legacy of those Clinton era officials most responsible for potential national security threats, in response to post 9/11 investigations.
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