The New York Post invokes memories of Chuckles the Clown from the old Mary Tyler Moore show to depict Sandy Berger: “A little song, a little dance, a bunch of secrets down my pants.”
But Susan Schmidt’s Washington Post story on the Chuckles escapades states categorically, based on the word of “a government official with knowledge of the investigation,” that Berger stuffed notes in his pockets rather than documents down his pants, that Berger removed the documents from the archives in a leather portfolio, that Berger removed all copies of a particular memo with the highest security classification (codeword), and that some of them are still missing: “Berger quits as an adviser to Kerry.”
It doesn’t add up. Schmidt quotes 9/11 Commission spokesman Alvin Felzenberg (a Republican whom I have met and respect) as saying he believes the commission has copies of all the documents in issue. But did the copies taken by Berger have notes on them that do not appear on the originals? Schmidt doesn’t say.
Schmidt also relies on an unnamed source “knowledgeable about the contents of the review” for her description of the nature of the information that was protected by the security classification. If her description of the information is accurate, it is unlikely that this controversy will be defused by release of copies of the documents in issue, a resolution the Wall Street Journal calls for in its outstanding editorial this morning.
We certainly need additional information to figure out what’s going on here, and I hope we get it. The one thing that seems certain to me is that Berger’s admissions themselves strip him of any benefit of the doubt regarding the innocence of his actions.
UPDATE: NRO has posted Byron York’s “Sandy Berger’s heavy lifting.” See also Hugh Hewitt‘s deconstruction of Schmidt’s story and Felzenberg’s quote this morning.
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