Mickey has a couple questions to which I have answers:
if, as I suspect, Berger took the various drafts home simply because it’s a lot easier to pore over them at home rather than at the National Archives, that may be understandable and ultimately excusable. But it would also mean Berger has tied himself up in …er, veracity problems by saying he only took the documents “inadvertently.” … P.S.: The WSJ ed board has called for the “release [of] all the drafts of the review Mr. Berger took from the room.” But wait a minute. The reason it was wrong for Berger to take the “review” documents is that they contained sensitive, classified information. If the drafts can now be actually released publicly without damaging national security, then why was it so terrible for Berger to take them home? The WSJ is making Berger’s case for him.
If Berger simply took them home to review them in more comfort, then a) why didn’t he simply check them out, as procedure allowed (assuming that he had a secure place to keep them)? Why be so furtive? And b) why did he not return them–why did they “inadvertently” disappear?
Sorry, but I’m having a lot of trouble coming up with an innocent explanation for this, particularly given the nature of the specific documents of interest. It appears very much to me that he was hoping that he could destroy original (and unique, with no copies) documents that may have contained very damaging information, either to him personally, or the administration that he served, or both. That is not to say, of course, that that’s the case, but it’s certainly how it appears.
Glenn has a lot more on this theme.
And I should add that it would certainly appear that way to the entire media establishment as well, and that this interpretation would be trumpeted from the rooftops, and most of the nation’s ink supply devoted to saying it, were the political parties reversed here.
As for resolving the WSJ’s call for release of the documents with Berger’s behavior, that’s quite simple. The Journal is calling for a declassification of the documents (in the absence of knowledge of their contents). Once declassified (perhaps with suitable redactions to protect the most important information), they can be released to the public. Whether this is a good idea or not cannot be known except to those with current access to them, though if it occurs, then we can all judge after the fact.
But they haven’t been declassified, and Berger, at least in his current role as private citizen, cannot unilaterally make a decision to do so. They retain their classification level until someone decides to change it. That someone cannot be Sandy Berger, and he has to treat them properly until that situation changes. And unlike the Journal, he knows their contents. And at this point, with regard to the missing ones, he may now be the only person on the planet who does.
Or ever will.
[Update a few minutes later]
Iowahawk has further updates.
New York Times ombudsman Daniel Okrent defended the newspaper’s scant coverage of the Berger imbroglio, pointing out that “newsprint doesn’t grow on trees.”
“If you run the numbers, printing that Berger is a Kerry advisor would have cost the newspaper over $300 in additional ink costs, not to mention the potential strain on delivery trucks,” said Okrent. “The Times has a fiduciary duty to its st0ckholders and employees to keep an eye on the bottom line.”
Okrent said that ‘Berger’ may appear in an upcoming Sunday crossword, “if [editor] Will Shortz finds a suitable 6-letter space, and comes up with a really, really hard clue.”
[Update at 10:40 AM PDT]
This is pretty funny, too.
While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle celebrated the discovery of Mr. bin Laden in the former White House aide’s trousers, this latest episode left Mr. Berger, once again, with much explaining to do.
The former adviser to President Clinton said that his lawyers would not permit him to divulge how, when, or why the world’s most wanted man had found safe haven in his pants, but he did tell reporters, “It was an honest mistake.”
At the White House, President George W. Bush ordered an immediate and thorough search of Mr. Berger’s pants “to see what else might be in there,” hinting that the discovery of Saddam Hussein’s long-sought weapons of mass destruction might be at hand.