Damn Right, I’m Mad. You Should Be, Too.

From Jonah Goldberg, at The Corner:

We have lots of military and defense industry workers as readers (and we like having them!), so it should be no surprise that I’m hearing from so many people who’ve dealt with classified materials in the past or currently. What’s interesting is that these readers are — to a person — more furious about the Berger story than almost any other reader. It seems that the more you know about how these things work, the less plausible Berger’s explanations are. Something to keep in mind throughout the day’s coverage.

Exactly right.

If you’ve spent a good chunk of your life being responsible for protecting classified information, the Berger story (not unlike John Deutch’s derelictions of duty a while back) is an absolute blood-boiler. As I said yesterday, if I did what Burger has already admitted to, I’d probably go to jail. I would certainly lose my clearance, my job, and my career, in short order.

But based on the tepid media reaction, and reflexive defensive posture of Democratic politicians, I’d bet good odds that Berger will get away with it. He’ll probably be rehabilitated down the line and start re-appearing as an “expert” on television and in future Dem campaigns. After all, he’s a big fish, and the rules are only for little people (as aptly noted yesterday by “jerry,” one of Roger L. Simon’s readers).

This guy stole code-word-level classified documents, people. And half the political apparatus in the country, as well as most of the media, thinks that’s no big deal.

You shouldn’t have to work for the military or an intelligence agency for that to make you furious… but it does help.


23 Responses to “Damn Right, I’m Mad. You Should Be, Too.”

  1. Dignan Says:

    Apparently this is a laughing matter, at least former Pres Clinton thinks so

  2. Norman Says:

    In one sense, he’s already gotten away with it. Everyone had a good laugh, Clinton included – albeit probably for different reasons, but the man should be arrested, pending the investigation.

  3. The Old European Says:

    OTOH does the story deserve that much outrage … compared to an act of destroying an active CIA agent’s cover?

    So far nobody is accusing Berger of handing classified information out for public consumption. And nobody says he destroyed that information.

  4. Duane Says:

    Consider another scenario- let Berger dominate the news cycle for a while, then at an appropriate time during the campaign, Bush magnanimously pardons him after privately extracting an appropriate price.

  5. UtilityGuy Says:

    Yer right TOE.

    Nobody can really say at this point what Berger was doing/or thinking when he did what he’s admitted to doing.

    Even he hasn’t really said. His statements have been so lawyered up that we’re left with more questions than answers.

    I know for myself, that’s a large part of the outrage. “WTF were you doing,” is the question I’d like to ask.

    And if he didn’t destroy any documents, then why the hell can’t he “find” some of the documents? Either he destroyed them, gave them to someone, or has lost them. All three are terrible possibilities, and I’m not sure which I’d prefer.

    I hope the guy is well on his way to the further public humiliation he deserves not to mention probable prosecution.

  6. Charlie (Colorado) Says:

    OTOH does the story deserve that much outrage … compared to an act of destroying an active CIA agent’s cover?

    You bet. I think Aldrich Ames should have been shot. But this deserves plenty of outrage. The last time someone made this kind of fuckup — and let some pressbot know that we were intercepting bin Laden’s satphone calls — we lost the channel that could have saved the WTC.

    But because I’m psychic — and have seen the same talking point in almost exactly the same words about a dozen times already — I perceive you’re talking about Valerie “Cover Girl” Plame.

    Those of us who have actually been overseas covertly know that the Plame story doesn’t hold up: if Plame had been under cover, when Novak tried to confirm her employment, CIA would have said “who?”

    It’s a nice talking point, but only because there are a lot of ignorant people.

  7. The Old European Says:

    To: Charlie

    If everybody worked by the rules all the times, yes.

    The Berger case, the Plume case and the Los Alamos investigation are reminders that people sometimes do make mistakes and conduct sloppy work.

  8. The Shape of Days Says:

    “Damn Right, I’m Mad. You Should Be, Too.”

    Will Collier, the world-famous Vodkapundit (I prefer gin myself) has a different perspective on the Sandy Berger flap. This guy stole code-word-level classified documents, people. And half the political apparatus in the country, as well as most of the …

  9. Russ Says:

    I’m one of those guys with extensive experiance handling classified material, and I’m pissed.

    If I’d done what Berger admits to having done, I’d have been locked away in very short order, with a high probability of the key being thrown away.

  10. Cybrludite Says:

    Just to make it clear how serious this is (by using a little humor), codeword level classified documents are the sort that are labled “Burn Before Reading”, “Do Not Release To Aviation Week”, and “Shoot Self After Reading”. Swiping that sort of stuff, even accidentally, is googlplex-plus ungood. This isn’t the Battalion phone list we’re talking about here…

  11. Dean Says:

    Consider what it takes to get “codeword” level clearance.

    It’s not the stuff in the report. It’s HOW the stuff got IN the report. Sources and methods.

    This is how people get killed (agents). This is how sources get compromised (new satellites, new algorithms).

    This is “keys to the kingdom” type stuff.

    Yes, in fact, in many ways this is MORE serious than outing a covert agent (assuming that that actually happened, which remains to be seen). As one small example: This might have been a NETWORK of people.

  12. Knight Of The Mind Says:

    TOP SECRET!, but no big deal….

    Gradually, I manage to calm down. It seems a large number of the powerful and mighty of DC are not too concerned about the absolute mockery that Sandy Berger has made of our government’s information classification system. This system is no joke.

  13. Tom Says:

    I agree that it’s unlikely he’ll face criminal charges as he should. However, its more important to me that his clearances for anything and everything be stripped. When this is all over this guy shouldn’t have the clearance to read the lunch menu at Denny’s.

  14. Slartibartfast Says:

    I’ve seen various people around the internet that have claimed that compromise of classified information isn’t even illegal. Can you believe that?

    I can’t.

  15. BradDad Says:


    First, Berger admits to destroying (by discarding) at least some of the documents he took. I’ve yet to see anyone confirm that copies of the documents he discarded are otherwise “in the system”.

    Second, that Plame was, indeed, a covert agent is hardly settled fact.

    Third, the law pertaining to exposing covert agents is only violated if the party accused knows he/she is exposing a covert agent – – – which, again, is far from a settled question.

    Fourth, it is a fact that Plame at least “talked up” her husband for the job of investigating the Niger Yellowcake story, despite the many aspects of his resume which would make him unqualified for that job, and he was ultimately sent. Which, given Wilson’s animosity toward W. and the contradictions between what he actually reported and what his leaked news stories reported, would be enough for reasonable people to question whether some sort of nepotism was involved in the assignment.

    And, Fifth, we’ve seen the “talking points” which say “When asked about Berger, attempt to change the subject to Plame”.

  16. Sandy P Says:

    OE – regarding Valerie Plame, what makes you think she wasn’t outed by convicted spies Hanssen or Ames?

    She was moved around after they were discovered.

    I had posted that at Roger Simon’s place and someone research the law – we may never know, because of the statute of limitations.

    Just something to keep in mind when you toss that argument out. Especially considering it was a “well-known secret” who she worked for BEFORE Novak wrote the article.

  17. mailman Says:

    So we have to listen to three years of caterwauling about private meeting minutes from the energy task force not being made public, because we have a right to know! But an ongoing investigation of a former NSA removing and losing classified documents pertaining to the handling of terrorist threats? It

  18. hey Says:

    i’m sorry but anyone that scrws around with highly classified documents, especially a senior official, should be shot out of hand.

    this could impact the lives of millions of people and blow job clinton is LAUGHING!!!!

    People need to die, seriously die, over this. Starting with Sandy Berger. And we need to change the laws and practices of the national security establishment so that people who do this get treated extremely harshly and irreversibly.

    Cause we are in an existential war of civilisaitons, and every day that someone screws around like this and diverts our attention from the war is one more day closer to the loss of one US city and the nuclear annihilation of the middle east.

    Both are things we should try to avoid by winning quickly.

  19. Hogarth Says:

    So far nobody is accusing Berger of handing classified information out for public consumption. And nobody says he destroyed that information.

    Oh, well it’s ok then.

    Or, maybe the reason it is against the law to STEAL very highly classified documents is that NO ONE KNOWS what happens to the documents once they are STOLEN from the room.

    Oh, and where is this outrage you speak of? Damn sure not in the MSM where the manufactured “outrage” over the Plame affair was hammered for all it was worth, and much, much more.

    TOE, are you sure you don’t want to “question the timing” while you’re at it?

    Geez, you’re not even a very good troll.

  20. erp Says:

    If I remember correctly, a significant number of Clintonistas never got security clearance. Can it be that Berger was one of them.

    Russ – you poor dear. You don’t understand. You can’t be trusted to shove classified material into various apertures because you aren’t a leftwing nutcase and as such can’t be trusted to do the right thing with the classified stuff.

    You might make it public thereby finally finding the stake to put into the heart of bubba and bubbette.

  21. Don Says:

    As a young drafter working on Navy stuff back in the late 80s, I had some limited exposure to fairly low level classified documents. I both used and created documents, and as such was constantly reminded of how important it was not to take anything out of the secure area, including sketches. I was thoroughly checked, even to the point of making certain that my calculator was zeroed, and that there was nothing written on the tissues I used when I had a cold.
    Accidental release? Sure, and I’m Mr. Frigging Universe!

  22. The Old European Says:

    To: Hogarth

    I never considered myself a Troll and I don’t read anybody’s talking points. But it sounds like a idea to make money with.

    So if anybody out there on the loony left or in the Kerry/Edwards campaign needs a Troll and pays handsome money (preferably in Euros), make me an offer I can’t refuse. If you pay a premium I’ll try to do it also in French.

  23. dever Says:

    You know, the fact that Clinton is laughing about this whole flap says more about his attitude towards national security than I ever could…

    The man is a disgrace.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: