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franklin county times

Berger's mistake'

By Staff
July 23, 2004
Over the years, U.S. Sen. Trent Lott has had some fairly close dealings with Sandy Berger, who served as national security adviser for President Clinton before he became a petty thief. Berger walked off with a pocketful maybe a pants leg full of classified, that is, secret documents the other day from the National Archives in Washington.
Berger offered sloppiness as his excuse, and, maybe, he did just absentmindedly make what he calls "an honest mistake." Some of the materials reportedly were used a few days later by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
The documents, copies of the originals, had to do with the Clinton administration's response to the millennium terrorism threat and seem to have showed that follow-through on antiterrorist recommendations was haphazard. This does not help Berger's case, but there is a difference of opinion on whether Berger was trying to hide anything.
In an interview the other day, Lott said he was puzzled by Berger's actions because he had found Berger to be competent, experienced, thorough and conscientious. The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation.
The taking of classified documents is a serious matter because they are believed to contain secret material about intelligence operations. At least two of the documents have not been recovered, apparently because Berger discarded them. In other words, it's conceivable they could fall into the wrong hands.
Berger has quit as a security adviser to presidential candidate John Kerry and, journalists speculate, will not now get a post in a Kerry administration if Kerry should be elected. That seems punishment enough for someone who clearly is dedicated to serving this country of ours. But even if he really did stick those documents in his briefcase accidentally, the carelessness is inexcusable.

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