Friday, September 09, 2005

Sandy Berger's $50,000 Dockers

Remember Sandy Berger? The national security adviser under President Clinton? Got caught in 2004 with a bunch of classified documents in his trousers, being snuck out of the National Archives?

They sentenced him yesterday: 50 grand plus 2 years' probation and 100 hours of community service:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson handed down the punishment in federal court, stiffening the $10,000 fine recommended by government lawyers. Under the deal, Berger avoids prison time but he must surrender access to classified government materials for three years.

"The court finds the fine is inadequate because it doesn't reflect the seriousness of the offense," Robinson said, as a grim-faced Berger stood silently.

The sentencing capped a bizarre sequence of events in which Berger admitted to sneaking classified documents out of the National Archives in his suit, later destroying some of them in his office and then lying about it.

Berger's lawyer, Lanny Breuer, said his client will not appeal the sentence.

Well, I should think not, given how serious Berger's crime was.

It's interesting to note that the prosecutors said they'd've been satisfied with a 10 grand fine. The judge thought that was too weak, and overall I'm inclined to agree: it's the difference between being able to afford a Vespa and beinfg able to get a Mustang.

Understand that Berger was, in a bizarre way, attempting to re-write history. Not the type that's created by pundits for a "Scandal of the Week" special, but the type that gets studied by the academics and professors, decades and centuries away, who use the National Archives for their source materials. The Clinton Administration didn't come out too well during the testimony of 9/11, and Berger figured some of the warts needed to be hidden.

And the attempt cost him 50 grand. Re-writing history shouldn't be cheap.