GREG DJEREJIAN says that The New York Times has no shame in its treatment of the Berger story:
Rarely have I seen a major newspaper play a story in such brazenly partisan fashion.
It truly beggars belief.
Check out today’s lead NYT story on the unfolding Sandy Berger scandal by Eric Lichtblau and Dave Sanger.
Boy, is it a whopper. . . . Your baffled NYT readers might be excused, at this juncture, from thinking George Bush himself was stuffing docs down his socks and trousers.
Read his dissection. I think this tells us that they’re really scared that this story has real substance, and legs. As with Pravda, you have to read between the lines. And this Washington Post story may explain why they’re scared:
Last Oct. 2, former Clinton national security adviser Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger stayed huddled over papers at the National Archives until 8 p.m.
What he did not know as he labored through that long Thursday was that the same Archives employees who were solicitously retrieving documents for him were also watching their important visitor with a suspicious eye.
After Berger’s previous visit, in September, Archives officials believed documents were missing. This time, they specially coded the papers to more easily tell whether some disappeared, said government officials and legal sources familiar with the case. . . .
The government source said the Archives employees were deferential toward Berger, given his prominence, but were worried when he returned to view more documents on Oct. 2. They devised a coding system and marked the documents they knew Berger was interested in canvassing, and watched him carefully. They knew he was interested in all the versions of the millennium review, some of which bore handwritten notes from Clinton-era officials who had reviewed them. At one point an Archives employee even handed Berger a coded draft and asked whether he was sure he had seen it.
At the end of the day, Archives employees determined that that draft and all four or five other versions of the millennium memo had disappeared from the files, this source said.
This makes the “inadvertence” defense look less plausible, and the uniqueness of each draft — with different people’s handwritten notes — explains why he might have taken them all.
No wonder the Times people are frantically spinning. Ed Morrissey has more thoughts, and also links this story on more suspicious-sounding behavior:
WASHINGTON – Former national security adviser Sandy Berger repeatedly persuaded monitors assigned to watch him review top secret documents to break the rules and leave him alone, sources said yesterday.
Berger, accused of smuggling some of the secret files out of the National Archives, got the monitors out of the high-security room by telling them he had to make sensitive phone calls.
Berger also took “lots of bathroom breaks” that apparently aroused some suspicion, the source added.
It is standard security procedure to constantly monitor anyone with a security clearance who examines the type of code-word classified files stored in the underground archives vault in the building where tourists view the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Asked if guards left Berger alone in the classified reading room while he made calls, archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper replied, “I’m not going to say I haven’t heard that.”
Curiouser and curiouser. I suppose that it’s possible that this could all be innocent — but it sure doesn’t sound that way, does it?
UPDATE: Martin Peretz writes in The New Republic:
I do not like Sandy Berger; and I have not liked him since the first time we met, long ago during the McGovern campaign, not because of his politics since I more or less shared them then, but for his hauteur. . . . Still, here’s his story about the filched classified materials dealing with the foiled Al Qaeda millennium terrorist bombing plot from the National Archives: He inadvertently took home documents and notes about documents that he was not permitted to take from the archives; secondly, he inadvertently didn’t notice the papers in his possession when he got home and actually looked at them; and, thirdly, he inadvertently discarded some of these same files so that they are now missing.
Gone, in fact. One of his lawyers attributes this behavior to “sloppiness,” which may better explain his career as Bill Clinton’s National Security Adviser and certainly describes his presentation of self in everyday life. But it is not an explanation of his conduct in the archives or, for that matter, at home. . . .
So my question is: Did Berger, who knew that he was under scrutiny since last fall, alert Kerry to the combustible fact that he was the subject of a criminal probe by the Justice Department and the FBI? My guess is not. Kerry is far too smart, too responsible to have kept him around had he known. But if Kerry didn’t know, it tells you a lot about Berger, too much, really.
(Emphasis added in all cases.) Yes. And, I should note, the New York Times’ frantic spinning of such a major story tells us a lot about the Times. Too much, really.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More disappearing documents here. Interesting.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dave Johnson finds the phone-call bit intriguing: “Who was he calling and what where they talking about? The Feds should subpoena his Cell phone records. Then they need to see who that person called. This story has legs.” Perhaps they’ve already done that.