Jonah Goldberg

"The innocent explanation is the most likely one, particularly given the facts involved," Bill Clinton said in defense of former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger. Who, you've probably heard, is in some hot water for getting caught illicitly smuggling very classified documents on more than one occasion from the National Archives.

Now, I don't know for sure what to make of Berger's misdeeds, but it's clear that his best defense against criminality is an offensive to prove how sloppy and careless he was. He says that in the process of illegally sneaking the notes he made while reviewing classified material, he "inadvertently" stole several classified documents. He's since lost some of them. And the documents were far from random. He took all of the politically sensitive drafts of the after-action study on the Clinton Administration's response to the so-called Millennium Terror plot, which went to the heart of the Clinton administrations anti-terror policy.

Unfortunately for Berger, even his A-list spin team - Clinton lawyers Lanny Breuer, Lanny Davis and former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart - are having a hard time proving Berger was as dumb as he's claiming. According to various reports, Berger inadvertently took anywhere from four to five drafts of the same report, plus the final copy, over at least two different visits. Some witnesses claim he shoved documents down his pants, in his jacket and - allegedly according to one witness - in his socks. He says he accidentally carried the drafts and final copy away in a leather portfolio. Still, the drafts were somewhere between 15 and 30 pages each, so it's hard to believe he didn't notice swiping 75 to 180 pages.

It's like a 10-year-old telling his parents he knowingly stole $5 worth of candy but in the process he accidentally shoplifted a basketball. And this guy was the National Security Adviser.

In an interview with the Denver Post, Clinton stuck to the most "innocent explanation," that Berger's just a slob. "We were all laughing about it on the way over here," he told the paper. "People who don't know him might find it hard to believe. But ... all of us who've been in his office have always found him buried beneath papers."


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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