By Nicholas Stix
July 26, 2004
A Different Drummer, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, etc.
“Part I: BVDgate: All the Ex-President's Men: What was in Sandy Berger's Underwear?”; and
Part II: “The Dick Clarke Show.”
Part III: Timing is Everything
While the media have uncritically repeated charges and insinuations by Democrats, including Bill Clinton, that the publication of the Berger story was politically motivated, in order to upstage the release of the 911 Commission report, the media have refused to put the Berger story in the context of the political stage-managing of the 911 Commission itself, particularly in late March, as a preening Dick Clarke gave his disingenuous apology to relatives of 911 victims, and one Democrat commission member even held up Clarke's book for the TV cameras, a book whose publisher, The Free Press, had scheduled its release to coincide with Clarke's testimony. Live by media manipulation, die by media manipulation.
And yet, Democrats' charges and insinuations – most notably those of David Gergen and Bill Clinton Himself, reflect on themselves more than on their targets. A man is caught jeopardizing national security, and they suggest that the publication of the case is the problem, not the crimes? This is what happens when people live in a bubble, protected by journalistic camp followers. They not only have contempt for the law and the truth, but are so shameless that they don't even feel an obligation to appear to care about them.
According to the previously cited, July 21 NBC/AP report, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said, "What information could be so embarrassing that a man with decades of experience in handling classified documents would risk being caught pilfering our nation's most sensitive secrets? Mr. Berger has a lot of explaining to do."
"House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, told reporters the case was about theft and questioned a statement by Berger issued Monday attributing the removal of the documents and notes to sloppiness.
"‘I think it's gravely, gravely serious what he did, if he did it. It could be a national security crisis,' DeLay said."
In case you were wondering whether stealing government secrets is (there goes that nasty verb "to be," again) still a crime, Deputy Attorney General James Comey reminded the media that it is. As Fox News reported, "‘As a general matter, we take issues of classified information very seriously,' Comey said in response to a reporter's question about the Berger bind, adding that the department has prosecuted and sought administrative sanctions against people for mishandling classified information.
"‘It's our lifeblood, those secrets,' Comey continued. ‘It's against the law for anyone to intentionally mishandle classified documents either by taking it to give to somebody else or by mishandling it in a way that is outside the government regulations.'"
Rest easy, Mr. Comey. Bill Clinton has assured the nation that Sandy Berger is a "good man." And I thought "honor among thieves" was a myth! I don't have the space today to analyze at length the significance of being called a "good man" by Bill Clinton, but one meaning of the phrase was provided by Mae West: "Goodness had nothing to do with it."
My favorite sideshow to the Berger Affair has been the reaction of former Clinton staffer and Berger colleague, David Gergen, an allegedly non-partisan commentator at ABC News. According to Fox News, Gergen responded to the news of Berger's theft and destruction of classified documents, "I think it's more innocent than it looks."
"‘I have known Sandy Berger for a long time,' Gergen said in a television interview. ‘He would never do anything to compromise the security of the United States.' Gergen said he thought that ‘it is suspicious' that word of the investigation of Berger would emerge just as the Sept. 11 commission is about to release its report, since ‘this investigation started months ago.'"
So, for the feds to notify the media about the former national security advisor committing crimes and harming national security is "suspicious," but the crimes themselves – committed on five different occasions – are "more innocent" than they look.
I suppose that the only thing that would have satisfied Gergen's high ethical standards, would have been if the government had held off alerting the media about Berger's crimes until Judgment Day. I know that if I had stuffed secret, federal documents in my shorts, I'd now be sharing a jail cell with my new husband, "Monster," praying that my lawyer can get the government to offer a plea bargain of, say, five years hard time in the federal maximum security lock-up in Marion, IL. As far as leading Democrats are concerned, the laws are for "the little people."
Meanwhile, David Gergen the moralist has seen nothing "suspicious" in any of the monthly "October Surprises" churned out by the media-political complex' political hoax machine.
And Berger's liar, er, lawyer (same difference), Lanny Breuer, insists that, "Mr. Berger does not want any issue surrounding the 9/11 commission to be used for partisan purposes." What a comedian that Breuer is!
To put BVDgate in moral perspective, consider the 1993 White House Travelgate affair, which occurred on moralist David Gergen's watch.
When the Clintons took over the White House, they decided they wanted to put their cronies in charge of the White House Travel Office. Billy Dale had run the office for thirty-two years, under seven different presidents (starting with John F. Kennedy). Hillary Clinton, who held no lawful elected or appointed position, reportedly told White House officials, "We need those people out. We need our people in," and ordered Clinton chief of staff Mack McLarty and White House administrator David Watkins to fire the entire Travel Office staff. Which they proceeded to do.
Though it is not clear how they could do so legally, Clinton cronies, most notably TV producer Harry Thomason, were to take over the Travel Office, and turn it into a private cash cow. Mrs. Clinton then called the Justice Department, and sicced federal prosecutors on Billy Dale, even though she knew that Dale had not committed any crime. Seven months after firing Dale, under the incredible pretext of renewing Dale's access to the White House, White House counsel even prostituted the FBI, requisitioning and receiving Bureau background checks on Dale, in seeking to further smear him. (Dale was clean as a whistle.) Ultimately, not only did Dale lose his job, but he lost his home, his life savings, and two-and-a-half years of his life defending himself against a malicious prosecution. Engineering a malicious prosecution is a crime. So, too, is perjury. Hillary Clinton lied to the independent counsel, when she denied having had any hand in the firing of Dale & Co.
Back in the present, Gergen & Co. insist that Sandy Berger's crimes are "more innocent" than they look. Tell that to Billy Dale.
I suppose there is a certain historical symmetry in the henchman of a president who used to donate his used underwear to charity as a tax write-off getting caught stuffing national secrets down his. I hope that Sandy Berger was wearing fresh drawers and socks during his federal shoplifting jaunts. I wouldn't want archivists or legitimate government researchers picking up any organisms off the documents he returned.
Postscript: Sandy Berger died on December 2, 2015.