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Berger's Briefs Redux

In what must be one of the most lenient plea agreements ever, former Clinton national security advisor (officially, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs) Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger will be allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for removing classified documents from the National Archives. Berger has admitted to removing documents by stuffing them in his pants, his jacket, and "inadvertently" in a leather portfolio. Mr. Berger claims to have returned most of the documents, but some sensitive documents are still missing. I previously wrote about this cheeky thief on December 3, 2004, and January 12, 2005.

The misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $100,000 fine, but ABC News is reporting the "plea agreement calls for Berger to serve no jail time but to pay a $10,000 fine, surrender his security clearance for three years and cooperate with investigators."

By comparison, Martha Stewart received a sentence of 5 months in jail, 5 months house arrest, two years probation, a $30,000 fine and was forever barred from serving as an officer in her corporation for merely lying to federal agents. Berger, who committed theft of highly classified national security documents, some of which have not been returned, receives no jail time, and, can do it again in three years!? This is not justice!

Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger is a common thief, and in the process, betrayed the trust of the American people. If this doesn't deserve 5 years in jail, I don't know what does. I also think he should have to pay to disinfect the returned documents that had been stuffed in his pants...

Obviously, it's 'who you know and who you blow' at the Justice Department these days, but there is a silver lining in this tough love plea agreement. We can all take solace in the fact that our National Archives will be safe from Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger for the next three years!

Note: Berger, who called his theft of the documents from the National Archives, an "honest mistake," has a habit of downplaying his illicit behavior. In 1997, in another very lenient deal with the the DOJ, Berger agreed to pay (was fined) $23,043 in settlement of a civil suit brought by the United States for an alleged financial conflict of interest violation. The 'fine' was only the dividends and the profits from the sale of Amoco stock between the time he was told divest himself of the stock and actual date of divestiture.

The Department of Justice news release of Monday, November 10, 1997, read in part:

In Berger's answer to the complaint, Berger alleged that he fully intended to divest the stock, but neglected to follow up promptly, and over time totally forgot about the issue and his family's ownership of the stock.

He therefore denied that he had knowingly participated personally and substantially as a government officer in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he had a financial interest, the element of intent required to prove a criminal offense under 18 U.S.C. ยง 208.

Just another "honest mistake"....

Posted by Rick | April 1, 2005 02:28 AM

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