Can you believe this?
WASHINGTON – A judge on Thursday ordered Sandy Berger, President Clinton’s national security adviser, to pay a $50,000 fine for illegally taking classified documents from the National Archives.
The punishment handed down by U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson exceeded the $10,000 fine recommended by government lawyers. Under the deal, Berger avoids prison time but he must surrender access to classified government materials for three years.
Three years? That’s it? Just as startling as that are his comments over his conduct:
"I let considerations of personal convenience override clear rules of handling classified material," Berger said. "I believe this lapse, serious as it is, does not reflect the character of myself."
"In this case, I failed. I will not again," he said.
The sentencing capped a bizarre sequence of events in which Berger admitted to sneaking classified documents out of the Archives in his suit, later destroying some of them in his office and then lying about it.
I am seriously at a loss to explain how someone with his clearance could steal and destroy classified documents from the National Archives and only have his access taken away from him for just three years as a result. If this had been a Republican, the press and the Democrats in DC would have called for that Republican’s head on a platter, blamed Karl Rove, and called for President Bush’s impeachment over it.
As Austin Bay notes:
I’ve seen “security violation” investigations, and they are serious affairs. Even minor slip-ups can have negative effects on military careers.
So how the heck did Berger manage to get this slap on the wrist??