I recently bemoaned the fact that Americans know more about what Bill Clinton pulled out of his pants than what Sandy Berger stuffed into his. This week a group of House Republicans requested a congressional investigation that has the potential to change that.
The AP reported Wednesday that “ten lawmakers led by House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., released a letter calling for the House Government Reform Committee to investigate” to “determine whether any documents were missing from Clinton administration terrorism records, to review security measures for classified documents and to seek testimony from Berger.”
Berger admitted to taking classified documents from the National Archive in 2003 and to destroying some of them. His guilty plea to one charge of “unauthorized removal and retention of classified material” resulted in a fine of $50,000.
The theft and destruction of classified national security documents by former National Security Advisor Samuel “Sandy” Berger is a topic that never received the attention it should have. In an informal poll of my non-political junkie friends, I was unable to find anyone who knew that Clinton’s National Security Advisor had illegally taken and destroyed classified documents, much less that those documents related to events leading up to September 11.
My outrage, though, comes from the actual theft of the documents, rather than the way the media largely ignored it.
For over a decade I worked as a paralegal, serving as custodian for a depository of hundreds of boxes of documents from a failed financial institution. Those documents, although financial in nature, and evidence in several multi-million dollar lawsuits, were not top secret. They were not classified. There was never even a remote possibility that if a document was lost or stolen or inadvertently released to an unauthorized agent, anyone’s life would be in danger or the security of the nation jeopardized. Yet I was very diligent in my handling of the documents and in the way they were allowed to be handled by other parties reviewing them. All the lawyers I worked with, including opposing counsel, showed respect for the integrity of the documents. I never had any trouble with anyone stuffing a handful of documents into their briefcases, much less their socks.