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July 21, 2004


The Kid

Jonah Goldberg has this update today linking Lanny Davis with, among others, the AP’s John Solomon. Jonah writes, “And According to Davis, Solomon was ‘the most fair’ reporter he knew because Solomon was willing to take so many items from Davis.” For those who’ve not been paying attention, it was the AP’s John Solomon who broke the Berg(l)er story Monday.

Goldberg quotes from an April 12, 1999 article by the WaPo’s Howard Kurtz:

Davis coins the marvelously bureaucratic phrase "deep-background private placement" to describe negative stories about the White House that he leaked to put the least damaging version in play. Davis's favorite outlet was the Associated Press, not only because it is "notoriously fact-oriented and fair" but because once a story was on the wire, such newspapers as The Washington Post and New York Times "would not be inclined to give it front-page play."
Thus, Davis called the reporter he deemed most fair, the AP's John Solomon, with documents suggesting that Clinton had made fund-raising calls from the White House residence. The leak occurred on July 3, 1997, so the story would get lost on the Fourth of July holiday.

Two writers – Marshall and Goldberg – from the opposite ends of the spectrum. One pushes what he wants other to believe (spins) while offering no supporting evidence, the other does some research and presents the results in support of his conclusions. It’s not that “Mr. Marshall's imagination is so limited,” it’s that Marshall is less interested in the truth. We never really know what Marshall knows, only what he wants us to believe.

Tom, please don’t let Josh know about this; it might upset him.


Kevin Drum joins in on the pre-emptive Democratic leak crowd.

He also asks this:

So this all happened in October 2003, the FBI searched Berger's home and offices in January, but they still haven't interviewed Berger or concluded their investigation. Does that make sense? What's taking so long? .

I have no idea (but I'll give you one) - the investigation was put on the back-burner while Berger helped Clinton (and himself) prep for the 9/11 Commission.

Clinton says he knew about this months ago; maybe the FBI figured that, given the people involved and the importance of the 9/11 project, they could take a back seat.

Which implies that not much is expected to come of this.


With Jaimie Gorelick inside the Commission, and Berger on the outside stuffing his pants, how can anyone think the Commission's findings - especially as regards the Clinton administration - can be fully trusted?

J Mann

My random speculation is that it's an FBI agent or AUSA who is frustrated that no one has even gotten around to interviewing Berger, and is trying to light a fire under the investigation.

Drum's theory makes sense too, though.

The Kid

Berger was appointed by former President Clinton to vet Clinton-administration documents stored in the National Archives before those documents were turned over to the 9-11 Commission. Byron York has a ">http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york200407210837.asp"> guess better than most as to what Berger what up to.

With all of the controversy about hearings in Washington and New York and the evident political gamesmanship, let’s not forget this about the ">http://www.9-11commission.gov"> 9-11 Commission:

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks.

So it’s rather important and Berger was the Clinton Administration’s agent for fulfilling the commission’s request for documents.

According to WaPo’s Susan Schmidt in today’s edition:

Archives officials discovered that some documents were missing after Berger's review of the files on Sept. 2, and again Oct. 2. The archives inspector general's office alerted Berger and former Clinton aide Bruce Lindsey, who is overseeing presidential documents. Berger returned two of the after-action drafts within days, according to his attorneys. Other drafts of the after-action document, they said, were apparently discarded. The archives inspector general began an investigation in October.
The FBI opened a criminal probe in January after receiving a referral from the archives inspector general. "This was not a routine investigation for this office for a number of factors," said Inspector General Paul Brachfeld, who declined to comment further.

Berger’s legal eagles are making the case that he purposefully took his handwritten notes and inadvertently took the documents stored at the archives for a very good reason – taking National Archives documents on purpose can land you in jail, even if you are well-respected and even if they are unclassified. Ask Shawn P. Aubitz, the guy who was sentenced to 21 months in prison for doing so.

Read ">http://www.civilwarnews.com/archive/articles/document_theft.htm"> this from The Civil War News (April 2002):

A "trusted employee" of the National Archives has been charged with stealing and selling hundreds of documents and photographs in his keeping that were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfeld said Aubitz had been considered a "trusted employee" before the thefts were uncovered. He worked at the Archives in Philadelphia for 14 years and "had unique access to records" because he organized exhibits, Brachfeld said.

He pleaded guilty, but ya gotta love ">http://theftreports.com/enews/news.asp"> this:

A former National Archives curator who admitted stealing hundreds of historic documents and photos from the vaults at a regional archives branch has been sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay the National Archives $73,793 restitution.

The July 31 sentencing of Shawn P. Aubitz, 45, of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, marked the end of an 18-year-career during which Aubitz burnished a reputation as a man with a talent for sifting through archive's 120 million items and creating public exhibits illustrating American history.

Aubitz blamed the thefts between 1996 and 1999 on mental illness, what he called a "compulsive need to amass collections for self-esteem and approval."

Aubitz apologized to archivists nationwide, telling the federal judge: "I have hurt the integrity of my profession and the mission of the National Archives."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer said Aubitz did "the worst thing he could do except burn down the building."
The documents included presidential pardons signed by 13 presidents from John Adams to Rutherford B. Hayes and a collection of 316 space photos signed by the U.S. astronauts.

Although Aubitz said he had not withheld any documents, only about 60 items, including a Lincoln pardon and almost all the space photos, were recovered.

Pardon me, as Sandy hisiownself might say, but did he take pardons? Now haven’t we seen the word “pardon” in recent Berger coverage? Some versions of the 7/21/04 AP/ John Solomon story Clinton Aide Investigated on Terror Memos (f’rinstance ">http://www.herald-sun.com/firstnews/37-502487.html"> this one and ">http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/9192891.htm?1c"> this one and ">http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-072004berger_wr,1,70396.story?coll=la-home-headlines"> this one have this final paragraph:

Former CIA Director John Deutch was pardoned by President Clinton just hours before Clinton left office in 2001 for taking home classified information and keeping it on unsecured computers at his home during his time at the CIA and Pentagon. Deutch was just about to enter into a plea agreement for a misdemeanor charge of mishandling government secrets when the pardon was granted.

Which points to Bill Clinton’s regard for personal accountability and attitude toward security. But there’s a closer link to Berger than even this paragraph indicates as the WaPo’s Vernon Loeb wrote on 2/16/01 in ”Senate to Probe Deutch Pardon, Committee to determine whether CIA was consulted which can be found here . Extracts? Sure:

Clinton pardoned Deutch on Jan. 20 for mishandling hundreds of highly classified intelligence documents on unsecure home computers linked to the Internet, making them vulnerable to cyber-attack.

The pardon caught Justice Department officials by surprise. It came less than a day after they had secured Deutch's signature on a plea agreement - nullified by the pardon - in which he admitted to a misdemeanor for unauthorized retention of classified material and agreed to pay a $5,000 fine.
It is unclear whether Deutch requested clemency from Clinton or whether the president acted on his own. But a former senior administration official said yesterday that numerous individuals with prior government national security experience had called the White House and expressed support for a Deutch pardon.

Having fielded some of those calls, national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger told President Clinton that he supported pardoning Deutch on the merits, the former official said, adding that Berger was not directly approached by Deutch or his attorneys.

Berger and other senior White House officials believed Deutch deserved a pardon even though his home computer security violations were egregious. They cited his overall contributions to the government over many years and the fact that there is no evidence that any of the classified material he mishandled was ever obtained by unauthorized individuals.

So Sandy, back with the Rat Pack – Bill, Bruce, Lanny B and Lanny D – overlooked only one little detail, and that was that Bill no longer had pardon power.

The matter of the source of the leak has been addressed quite well ">http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/04_07_18_corner-archive.asp#036149"> elsewhere . In typical Clintonian rapid response action, Dee Dee Meyers and other surrogates are engaging in obfuscation, witness tampering, or diversions, but I do admit that Terry DNC McAuliffe’s FOIA request is a fantastic diversion that far exceeds what these folks have done in the past.

One issue on the timing of the leak is that if the leaks were preemptive, now is as good a time as any. Last week Berger, ">http://www.miaminewtimes.com/issues/2004-07-15/kulchur.html"> snookered the far-far left and Dennis Kucinich in the fight over the Democrat party platform, although his ">http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/07/14/1410234"> contribution to that effort were not fully reported in the national ">http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/ap/20040710/ap_on_el_pr/democratic_platform"> media. So his negotiation skills proved critical in keeping the far-far lefties at bay and in the tent.

Next week the Democrat convention starts (and OBL is ">http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040719&s=aaj071904"> caught), whatever comes of the investigation, Berger’s goose is honked, so it wouldn’t do to have him around Kerry’s neck, would it? This week works out rather well, doesn’t it?


No surprises here.

What would be surprising is if, as impossible as it sounds, there were ever any news of any lawful, honorable actions taken by anyone ever associated with the Clinton Administration.

This crowd must be the most corrupt, mendacious, duplicitous group to ever constitute an Administration. Berger is only the latest in a stream of Clinton associates to get caught - and I fear he won't be the last.

Regardless, the Clinton/Dem spin machine already knows who is responsible - the Republicans and their vast right wing conspiracy. Only pathetic morons will continue to drink that Koolade.

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