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Jason Holliston
 
Tuesday, July 20, 2004  
Is Sandy a Burglar?
 
It sure seems as though he is. Now that this story has had a chance to saute a bit, and the big hitters of the blogosphere have all commented, I'll chime in as well. It seems as though Sandy Berger "inadvertently" took some top secret documents from the National Archive home with him. Here's from the AP:
 
Berger and his lawyer, Lanny Breuer, said the former Clinton adviser knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket and pants and inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio.
 
Everything I've heard so far indicates that the law states that, until notes based off of top secret documents are cleared, they are to be considered just as top secret as the source documents. Perhaps that's why he stuffed them in his pants? Too much in a hurry? Or hiding something? Politics aside, it sure looks bad for the former National Security Advisor. If he did break the law, he should be treated as anyone would be for such a crime. Destroying some of the documents looks even worse.
 
My one comment about spin coming from Democratic boosters and operatives is this: if Condoleezza Rice was caught taking top secret documents from the National Archives without being cleared first and then destroying some of the documents at home, would the Democrats be shrugging it off so easily? 

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner wrote the following as part of a longer post about Sandy Berger's problems:

One counterpoint -- some are using this story as an example of media bias, implying that if Condi Rice had done this it would have gotten more play. That's true, but not because of ideology. Berger is now a private citizen (albeit one advising the Kerry campaign); Rice is a government official. This type of behavior will (and should) command more attention from those in power than from those who are now out of power.

I'm not asserting, in my last point, that there should be no difference between a sitting government official versus a ex-government official. Of course there should be -- the abuse of power in a sitting official is definitely more serious and troubling. Putting that aside, I still believe without a doubt that the mumbling excuses we're now hearing from the Democrats would be transformed into an uproar if it weren't for partisan politics. The media bias issue is there, but a bit more iffy.



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