In his latest syndicated Newhouse column, James Lileks begins with a rhetorical question:
Please. C’mon. Who among us hasn’t shoved classified documents into his pants and jacket by accident? It happens.
You’re reviewing some notes — OK, classified notes, but it’s not like they’re the secret formula for Coke or anything. Somehow they get in your clothing. Maybe you’re the sort of person who’s always putting things in your pants, and every night you empty out the contents — a gallon of milk, some lawn statuary, some D-cell batteries, one shoe, loose rosary beads. And hey, what’s this? Dang: classified documents.
Well, better do the right thing, and return them. But somehow they get cut up and thrown away. You’re bad. But it’s not like you were intending to sell them to the Chinese, or worse, Fox News.
Should you get sent to the Martha Stewart Memorial Wing of the White Collar Timeout Complex? Not if you’re that lovable rapscallion, Sandy Berger, who has admitted that those classified papers didn’t leap unaided into his wardrobe.
His verdict: a $10,000 fine and a three-year suspension of his security clearance. Just in time for 2008, when he could be President Hillary’s secretary of — now what was the name of that office? He wrote it down somewhere. Must be in his other pants.
When the story first broke, Bill Clinton himself found it risible: Why, that’s just Sandy, always a pack rat; once we found him, yelling for help, buried under 200 pounds of documents he’d carted off from the Folger Library.
Professional chameleon David Gergen suspected the story of Berger’s crime was released to draw attention away from the 9/11 commission report. (Apparently Karl Rove made Berger walk off with documents months in advance just to set up the diversion.) No harm, no foul — the real crime was 40 million uninsured caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge etc.
Read the rest–and then check for hidden documents inside your 501s or Ralph Lauren khakis.