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Friday, April 01, 2005

Does Berger Deal Say Something Important About Bush?

President Bush's Justice Department has allowed Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton's National Security Advisor, to cop a plea, pay a fine and accept a firm, very firm mind you!, hand-slap for destroying documents from the National Archives. Read the details here in The Washington Post.

The documents were sought by the bi-partisan congressional commission investigating the 9/11 terrorism attack. Berger previously claimed his removing the documents and then destroying them was inadvertent - i.e. unintentional. Today a source close to Berger and claiming to speak on his behalf says Berger now admits he purposely removed and destroyed the documents.

Bill at INDC Journal and Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters are asking the properly outraged questions here and here. Essentially, those questions are: Why not a felony charge of obstruction of justice and destruction of government property? As the Captain puts it:

"This is a travesty. If a lower-level cleared worker had done a fraction of what Berger did in this case, he would face years in prison. Berger gets off with a fine that any of his well-connected friends will wind up underwriting, a gracious gesture of gratitude for pulling their chestnuts out of the fire."

But there is another, ultimately more disturbing question raised by this deal between the Bush Justice Department and the former Clinton aide. Remember Clinton's midnight pardons? Bush had an opportunity to make public the background documents on those pardons, but he chose to put those documents behind closed doors. Why is Bush again enabling misconduct that so vividly reminds of the Clinton era?