Joel Mowbray writes at Townhall on how our MSM has decided to be quite nonchalant about the huge story of a National Security Advisor stealing classified documents, hiding them behind trailers, and then getting a slap on the wrist:
With the release of an internal investigation (ed. PDF file)last week, we now know that former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger not only knowingly flouted laws for handling classified documents, but he also went to incredible lengths to cover his tracks and thwart investigators.
While Berger’s "punishment" was a pittance of a fine, former Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin has been financially ruined and sentenced to 12 and a half years for passing along far less-classified information to unauthorized third parties.
Unfortunately, disproportionate justice is inherent to the legal system. The written playbook might be the same for various cases, but different judges and different dynamics can lead to dramatically disparate results.
But what excuse is there for the wildly different media coverage of the two cases, both of which came to public attention in the summer of 2004?
A low level employee gets 12 years in prison and a half dozen front page articles while Mr. Berger got fined and ONE….count it…..ONE front page article:
In the end, the FBI’s full-court press only netted one conviction of a government official. Franklin plea-bargained to three counts, including passing classified information to an Israeli government official and two men at pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. (The trial of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman is slated to begin by the spring.)
According to someone with intimate knowledge of the leaked draft presidential directive, the document contained no sources and no methods. It had no sensitive material of any kind. It was nothing more than a policy paper — just a few pages that resembled an opinion-editorial — advocating tougher diplomacy, not war, in dealing with Iran.
Reporters at The Post and the New York Times worked overtime to find new angles in the Franklin case, and that effort yielded considerable ink. On the Berger case, though, the mega newspapers simply reported stories as information came out. There was no digging, no investigative passion. Even the disclosure of the inspector general’s report only happened because of a freedom of information request filed by the Associated Press.[…]Berger claimed in court last year that smuggling classified documents out of the National Archives was about "personal convenience," but the inspector general report states that he walked out of the building and down the street, found a construction site, looked to see if the coast was clear, then slid behind a fence and hid the documents under a trailer.
Which part of that elaborate procedure was "convenient"?
According to the New York Times story last April following Berger’s guilty plea, "Associates attributed the episode to fatigue and poor judgment." While lying to authorities is poor judgment, it is also illegal. And how exactly did fatigue drive Berger to use his scissors to shred three versions of the top-secret document?
Despite the report’s devastating blow to Berger’s excuse machine, it was buried. The Post dumped it on page 7, and the New York Times exiled it to page 36.
And people wonder why the MSM is accused of being biased. Think about this for a minute. If a Republican, oh say Condi Rice, had stolen classified documents from the National Archives and hid them behind a trailer do you think the MSM would be so blasé about it? Hell, they along with every Democrat would be screaming for heads to roll.
On the same subject we have the Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Tom Davis issuing the following statement about the newly released investigation findings:
“My staff’s investigation reveals that President Clinton’s former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger compromised national security much more than originally disclosed,” Davis said. “It is now also clear that Mr. Berger was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to compromise national security, apparently for his own convenience.
“The 9/11 Commission relied on incomplete and misleading information regarding its access to documents Mr. Berger reviewed. No one ever told the Commission that Mr. Berger had access to original documents that he could have taken without detection.
“We now know that Mr. Berger left stolen highly classified documents at a construction site to avoid detection. We know that Mr. Berger insisted on privacy at times to allow him to conceal documents that he stole. One witness with a very high security clearance believed he saw Berger concealing documents in his socks.
“Mr. Berger’s review of documents did not conform to the usual requirements for reviewing classified documents in a secure facility and under strict supervision. The Archives staff’s failure to contact law enforcement immediately and their contacts with Mr. Berger about the missing documents compromised the law enforcement effort.
“The compromised law enforcement effort contributes to reduced confidence that the 9/11 Commission received all the documents it requested. The execution of a search warrant before Mr. Berger knew there was an investigation would have either located additional documents or enhanced confidence that he stole no others than those he admitted to taking.
“The public statements of the former chief of the public integrity section, Noel Hillman, were incomplete and misleading. Because Mr. Berger had access to original documents that he could have taken without detection, we do not know if anything ‘was lost to the public or the process.’
“The Justice Department’s assertion that Mr. Berger’s statements are credible after being caught is misplaced. One wouldn’t rely on the fox to be truthful after being nabbed in the hen house. But the Justice Department apparently did.”
There is good reason to be concerned that the 9/11 Commission didn’t get the whole story since Berger was intent on stealing the DRAFTS of the after action report. The final version was of no use to him since they had been distributed eons ago. But the drafts contain notes and comments that probably would have shed much light on what was known by the Clinton administration about Al-Qaeda in the United States.
This was worse the Watergate and what did we hear from the Democrats and our MSM?
Not a damn thing.