WASHINGTON -- I guess 3,500 classified documents would be too many to stuff into your clothing if you were a high-ranking government official and wanted to take them home for leisure reading. Perhaps that explains why this week one of the State Department's most knowledgeable experts on China, Donald W. Keyser, a Foreign Service officer with three decades of experience, was sentenced to a year in the hoosegow after these documents were found in his Fairfax County residence. Keyser claimed he had just been "careless." Without the comic touch of stuffing the documents into one's clothing, being "careless" with classified materials is apparently a serious offense. So off to the hoosegow Keyser will go.
The Clinton administration's former national security adviser, Samuel R. (Sandy) Berger, claimed carelessness too after he was nabbed for taking classified materials home from the National Archives, where in 2002 and 2003 he had been preparing to testify before the 9/11 Commission. Among his documents were draft documents, memos, e-mail messages and handwritten notes, some from the Clinton administration's counterterrorism expert, Richard A. Clarke. These would be very relevant to the Commission's deliberations.
Employees of the Archives espied the chubby Berger stuffing the documents into his socks. He claimed that he had accidentally mixed the classified papers in with his other papers when he left the Archives. Apparently Bill Clinton's national security adviser was given to carrying his personal papers in his socks. That would be in keeping with the administration's dog patch ambiance. Carrying an attache case might have been eschewed as "elitist."
At any rate, in April 2005 Berger got off, pleading to merely a misdemeanor. He was fined $50,000 and barred from access to the Archives for three years. After that, perhaps the archivists will require that he remove his socks before being given classified material, or maybe he will allay the staff's concerns by wearing flip flops.