Clinton’s Former Aide Drops Windfall in the Lap of Bush Campaign
July 20, 2004 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Clinton’s Former Aide Drops Windfall in the Lap of Bush Campaign "...Presidential challenger Kerry will have to think twice before attacking Bush on national security issues lest he lay himself open to reminders that a former Clinton aide and his own adviser was caught red-handed misappropriating classified materials that revealed how a Democratic president mishandled the threat of terror...."
posted by Postroad (45 comments total)
And the connection between Kerry and this former Clinton aide is...?

Truly, "but what about Clinton?" has become the "Chewbacca defense" of the 21st century.
posted by deanc at 8:41 AM on July 20, 2004

Apparently Berger has been 'informally advising' Kerry on his campaign. This story has been published in Debka because they didn't like Clinton due to his actions regarding Israel (and, it seems, they don't like Kerry), but they like Dubya. But there is a nebulous connection, at best, with Kerry.

However, they *do* manage to lay blame for Sept. 11 on Clinton's actions in the Balkans, and they try to make sure that anyone reading assumes that Clinton asked Berger to destroy those documents.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2004

And the connection between Kerry and this former Clinton aide is...?

This year, Berger has been informally advising Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Presidential challenger Kerry will have to think twice before attacking Bush on national security issues lest he lay himself open to reminders that a former Clinton aide and his own adviser was caught red-handed misappropriating classified materials that revealed how a Democratic president mishandled the threat of terror.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2004

The connection is that one of Kerry's "informal advisors" may have allegedly performed an illegal act. Unlike several of Shrub's appointees, who actually did perform illegal acts, convicted, and then pardoned by Bush Sr. during the Iran-Contra affair. Folks like Abrams, Negroponte, Reich, and so on.

Pot, meet kettle.

I love this quote: "However, Bush has always forbidden his campaign staff to point the finger at his predecessor in the White House for the ills of today, just as Clinton refrains from criticizing the incumbent."
Absolute shash. That's why he has Rupert Murdoch, of course.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:52 AM on July 20, 2004

Let me clarify, as I missstated some stuff - Abrams was convicted for the Iran-Contra nightmare, and pardoned by Bush Sr.. While Reich particpated, he wasn't actually convicted. And Negroponte is just an out-and-out villain - I confused John Poindexter with Negroponte, for some weird reason. John Poindexter, another Bush appointee, was convicted. Negroponte was criticized for his role, but never actually convicted.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:59 AM on July 20, 2004

I don't get the motive. He was taking copies, he must have known they were copies, why on earth would he be trying to disappear copies when he knew they had the originals?
posted by TungstenChef at 8:59 AM on July 20, 2004

"Kerry will have to think twice before attacking Bush on national security issues"

Oh, Yes. This all makes Bush's fixation on Saddam War On Terror cred rock solid. Every time we get another relelation about how we blew the case, and the execution, for a major land war in the Middle East, the right starts waving it's arms and yelling. "Look!!!! A puppy!!! Who wants ice cream??!!!"

This make it all better. Right.

"lest he lay himself open to reminders that a former Clinton aide"

Reminders? With the Bush Newspeak spin machine working overtime?

"and his own adviser"

For about another 6 hours. Either he gets kicked off the team, or he resigns. That much seems obvious.

"was caught red-handed misappropriating classified materials"

Man, this guy is almost as cavalier and slimy as Cheney.

"that revealed how a Democratic president mishandled the threat of terror"

You made that up. Nice try.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:01 AM on July 20, 2004

Those were the days.
posted by four panels at 9:11 AM on July 20, 2004

So Saint Raygun had something like 183 felony convictions in his cabinet so that makes Dubya double plus bad. Yeah, that logic works.
posted by nofundy at 9:14 AM on July 20, 2004

Josh Marshall has some interesting thoughts on this:

The most obvious, and probably the only, explanation of this leak is that it is intended to distract attention from the release of the 9/11 report due later this week.

From the Washington Post article he links to:

The inspector general of the Archives began an investigation last October and turned it over to the FBI in January. FBI agents searched Berger's office and home safe, and the probe is continuing, Breuer said.

Berger spent three days at the Archives, on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, last summer and fall examining documents to provide the Clinton administration's responses to inquiries from the presidential commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

This incident took place many months ago.
posted by alphanerd at 9:23 AM on July 20, 2004

Actually, on NPR I heard that the documents pertained to the attempted millennium attack on L.A. Note that's the attempted millennium plot. Now I understand that the report contained some information about what Clinton's guys could have improved upon, but remember this:

1. The attack was prevented.

2. Clinton's team was still concerned and conscientious enough to commission a report critical of themselves to try to improve their response for the next time.

None of this changes what Sandy Berger may or may not have done (which looks to me accidental anyway), but IMHO bringing up how the threat of terror was handled by Clinton doesn't make W look good by comparison.
posted by steviehero at 9:36 AM on July 20, 2004

I don't think that he can resign, y6, since he's not, as far as I can tell, officially associated with the campaign. He's apparently been "unofficially advising Kerry," which could mean just about anything.

They've got the infamous Karl Rove working the smear machine for them, and THIS is what they come up with? Pathetic.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:43 AM on July 20, 2004

Read Josh Marshall's take on this, linked to by alphanerd, above. One of the key facts for me is that Berger was removing copies of documents, not the documents themselves. Several of the news sources gloss over this seemingly important distinction, perhaps wanting to make this more of a story than it actually is.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:51 AM on July 20, 2004

I must have missed something; since when does the Bush/Rove smear machine require facts?

This article is by Richard H. Davis, John McCain's campaign manager for the 2000 primary. The purpose of a smear campaign is not so much to persuade voters but to cloud the issues and force them onto your territory. By making your opponent waste money, effort and irreplaceable time on fending off your attacks, you prevent them from getting their own message and you keep them focused on negatives -- it doesn't matter if they're true or not. As Davis says in the article:
Campaigns have various ways of dealing with smears. They can refute the lies, or they can ignore them and run the risk of the smear spreading. But "if you're responding, you're losing." Rebutting tawdry attacks focuses public attention on them, and prevents the campaign from talking issues.
If the facts and the issues don't favor your candidate (and polls show that they don't favor Bush), the smear campaign is your best friend.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:13 AM on July 20, 2004

One of the key facts for me is that Berger was removing copies of documents, not the documents themselves

Indeed. I think that if a document is sensitive and important enough to be viewabe only in "secure reading rooms", the original should be securely locked away in another location.
posted by clevershark at 10:14 AM on July 20, 2004

The big news here is that Sandy Burglar was able to keep it in his pants. His boss had the opposite problem.
posted by republican at 10:15 AM on July 20, 2004

I heard quite a number of possibilities about what Berger did or didn't take. It all seemed rather vague, and so I wouldn't at all be surprised to see the charges quietly dropped in a few weeks - after they've served their purpose.
posted by troutfishing at 10:23 AM on July 20, 2004

Interesting that so manyh comments spend time attacking Debka--the news is readily available elsewhere--and dismiss the thing. Fact is, Berger a top adviser to Kerry. Fact is if Kerry won, Berger was likely to get a key post--this will not now happen. Fact is a crimminal investigation under way so that the theft--a breach of security--not so readily dismissed. But what has not been said: This was known and the timing suggest the Buish camp waited till just before the convention to dump this and stir up trouble for Democrats.
posted by Postroad at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2004

One of the key facts for me is that Berger was removing copies of documents, not the documents themselves

The FBI searches occurred after National Archives employees reported they saw Berger place documents in his jacket and pants and then noticed some documents missing. Three still are. Berger admitted to “sloppiness” and “inadvertently” taking copies of classified documents. They were all immediately returned, he said, except for a few that he had “apparently accidentally discarded.”
posted by thomcatspike at 10:45 AM on July 20, 2004

Postroad, you're totally ignoring the fact that this was most likely an accidental security breach. Yeah, it's serious, but still, accidental.

Since the info is available elsewhere, why didn't you link to it elsewhere? Debka is in the far-right, zionist fringe, and when you link to crappy sites like that you diminish your own credibility.
posted by bshort at 10:48 AM on July 20, 2004

Interesting that so manyh comments spend time attacking Debka--the news is readily available elsewhere--and dismiss the thing.

Of course so many comments are going to point that out! Discussion of the FPP link is interesting precisely because Debka was chosen for the link when the news was readily available elsewhere.

Debka didn't break this as an exclusive, so suddenly many of the posters are interested in what made this link the one to choose.

BTW, Berger was being described as "chief foreign policy adviser" to Kerry, so I take back what I said about the connection being tenuous.

Fact is if Kerry won, Berger was likely to get a key post--this will not now happen.

This will be in stark contrast to the Bush administration, where having a legal/criminal scandal in one's past seems to be a requirement for getting a kery post, or at least keeping one already granted.
posted by deanc at 10:50 AM on July 20, 2004

"Bill Clinton was right"
posted by dhoyt at 10:55 AM on July 20, 2004

Well, what the hell. I guess we'd better invade someone then...
posted by spilon at 11:50 AM on July 20, 2004

Where Michael Moore to spin this into a conspiracy when you need him?
posted by soulhuntre at 12:14 PM on July 20, 2004

Yes, you should obviously blame the whole Iraq war on Clinton. Idiot.
posted by bshort at 12:19 PM on July 20, 2004

To reiterate... Clinton NSA advisor takes copy classified of report. Not currently in a position of power, though he advise's Kerry from time to time. Admits to making the mistake and possibly criminal charges are pending.

Bush staffer breaks a federal law and risks the lives of CIA operatives by leaking Plame's occupation to the press and we still don't know who did it.
posted by drezdn at 12:24 PM on July 20, 2004

Hey, what about the whole thing where a whitehouse person revealed to Ahmed Chalabi that we had broken the Iranian codes, and he promptly took that all the way back to Tehran.

Wasn't that a more serious leak? What every happened to that?
posted by rks404 at 12:34 PM on July 20, 2004

Well, what the hell. I guess we'd better invade someone then...

Will do, boss!
posted by laz-e-boy at 12:59 PM on July 20, 2004

rks404: A link to the Iranian Code issue here. I'd be interested in knowing if the "whitehouse person" was actually drunk - [reportedly how s/he was described in the intercepted Iranian message that the New York Times cited]

I think thomcatspike and drezdn deserve some props for pointing out the obvious. As far as the Berger issue goes, it's not worth talking about yet ... but might be very serious in the future. Like Clinton's former CIA Director John Deutch, all Berger seems to be guilty of so far is taking his work home with him. Just like Cheney got help from his friends crafting energy policy. "No Big Deal"

I've read that Berger told the 9/11 commission that no "war plan" for dealing with Al Qaida was given to the Bush administration by Clinton's people. And whatever it means, Berger's statement seems to be a "scoop" only Fox News picked up on.

Not that I believe everything i read in the Daily Howler.

who does this on craigslist?!
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 2:14 PM on July 20, 2004

I declare this thread moot now that it's raison d'être no longer exists. Berger has stepped down form his status within the Kerry Campaign, so Kerry can -- like -- criticize Bush all willy nilly. However, I think it's interesting to point out that sans Berger, Kerry's critiques might know be less well researched:
Berger was designated as the official from the Clinton administration who would review documents relevant to 9/11 commission inquiries. He also was a witness at commission hearings and reviewed records to prepare for his personal testimony.

He had served as an informal adviser to the campaign of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, but announced Tuesday that he would no longer do so.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Fox News channel Tuesday that Berger may have taken the documents to help Kerry's campaign.[me own emphasis, eh?]

"I've seen Sandy Berger's protestations and he's proclaimed his innocence and his good faith and said it was just a mistake -- he was just sloppy. I think we accept that," Hunter said.

But Hunter said there was a "certain discipline" needed to separate politics from public duty, "and obviously he's violated that discipline."

Kerry spokesman David Wade said the candidate was unaware of the probe, and Wade said the campaign would have no comment on the investigation.
IMHO losing Berger as an advisor makes this a political coup for the Republicans.

[via CNN via Wonkette or vice versa or whatever]
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 2:41 PM on July 20, 2004

erase errata: Kerry's critiques might now be less well researched:
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 2:45 PM on July 20, 2004

Someone who had no official role within a campaign takes photocopies of a document--which he returns the next day with an apology for the mistake--and this is somehow bad for the campaign?

I'm not getting it. This has about as much relevance to the Kerry for President campaign as Laura Bush's running a stop sign and killing her high school boyfriend has to the Bush campaign--i.e., none.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:45 PM on July 20, 2004

????: What was the part about him taking his notes. Were these notes on the official copies, post notes stuck to official copies, or notes that could not be viewed on the original documents. These were the documents that pertained to his foreign affair with Israel & Iran. Think the media is just reporting the news DC gossip.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:03 PM on July 20, 2004

No, the notes he took with him appear to have been the notes he made himself about the classified documents. Inappropriate, certainly, and it would make me think twice about giving Berger a security clearance in future. The connection with Kerry, though, seems specious.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:06 PM on July 20, 2004

The connection with Kerry, though, seems specious.

no, there's definitely a connection. therefore we must liberate sandy berger!
posted by mcsweetie at 5:17 PM on July 20, 2004

to clarify and justify one again. I found the piece at Debka before I realized a bit later on that the story was in fact all over the media. That Debka added some coments is to me somehow of interest--right or wrong--rather than simply the story as news item. That the stuff was copies is still a serious breach of security. I once was in a war zone and just arrived I was given a top secret document to proof read..the officer in charge, a dimwit, grabbed the paper out of my hand and handed me the copy, telling me I was not to have original top document stuff till my clearance came through! You don't have to be a 200 watter to know that you don't take classified stuff out of where it is kept (let alone guiltily stuff in your socks), no matter if it is a copy and no matter for what reason. Now Berger has stepped down as advisor, a good move, and the Bushies will go after him to deflect the 9/11 report. I repeat: this Berger incident took place months ago; the GOP oerpative knew about it (cam got it), and they waited till just now--Dem convention and 9/11 report. If you discount the editorialilzing by Debka, the story is the same as elsewhere. So either object to what they Make of the story and so state, but you can not reject the piece in toto because it is Debka, not trustworthy. The story has appeared on every TV news show--should we disbelieve becasue ilt was here posted by me via Debka>
posted by Postroad at 5:31 PM on July 20, 2004

three words when it comes to this administration and national security:

osama bin laden

or how about two:

valerie plame

or perhaps just one:


? for starters postroad.
posted by specialk420 at 6:22 PM on July 20, 2004

"Stepped down" from what? His informal connection?

I agree that taking copies of classified documents, and the notes you made on them, out of a supposedly secure archive is completely inappropriate. However, this doesn't seem like a Huge Spy Scam, considering that Berger sent stuff back.

I'm just wondering why anyone thinks this will reflect poorly on Kerry. Berger's a "top advisor"? Since when?

Berger's one of a kajillion Democratic hacks who was hanging around hoping for a job in the Kerry administration, just like there were a kajillion Republican hacks hanging around hoping for a job in the Dole administration and Bush administration during the Clinton years.

Karl Rove is going to have to do a lot better than this. Bullshit happens. Even bullshit having to do with classified information. Sometimes, classified information even gets to Iran.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:45 PM on July 20, 2004

Postroad - your mea culpa rings hollow. You post crap from Debka, you're going to catch shit for it. Also, you know you could at least try and edit your comments for legibility, or use the spell checker.

The "socks" thing also smells of a false accusation thrown in to make it look like Berger had some ulterior motive. Which is stupid, because he was reviewing copies so it's not like removing the copies, or notes of the copies, would have covered up squat.
posted by bshort at 10:40 AM on July 21, 2004

Guess who else is being investigated by Justice? (and you're not hearing about it in the news)  Sen.Richard Shelby (R)
The case involves the leaking of intercepted messages from Sept. 10, 2001. The National Security Agency intercepted the messages — "The match begins tomorrow" and "tomorrow is zero day" — suggesting an attack might occur the next day. The Arabic messages were not translated until Sept. 12.

more here: Several years ago, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, mounted a campaign to crack down on the unauthorized disclosure of secret government information. Under his proposal, almost any leak of so-called "classified" material would have become a federal crime punishable by up to three years behind bars.
That campaign ultimately failed, but in what one observer described as a "deliciously ironical" twist, Shelby is now reportedly the focus of a federal probe of a leak of sensitive intelligence related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

posted by amberglow at 12:45 PM on July 24, 2004

Clinton Adviser Berger Cleared of Document Theft
President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger -- who'd been accused of stealing classified material from the National Archives -- has been cleared of all wrongdoing.

The National Archives and the Justice Department have concluded nothing is missing and nothing in the Clinton administration's record was withheld from the 9-11 Commission.

The Wall Street Journal reports archives staff have accounted for all classified documents Berger looked at.

posted by y2karl at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2004

ah, Karl, you just beat me to it.

This might be worthy of an FPP.
posted by bshort at 1:40 PM on July 30, 2004

(okay, not really, but nearly.)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:46 PM on July 30, 2004

I think Glenn just jumped the shark.
posted by bshort at 2:15 PM on July 30, 2004

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