Roger L. Simon

Sandy Berger - a rumination

I didn’t sleep well last night. Part of the reason was I was in a hotel room in a new bed, but the other was Sandy Berger. I was up late reading the PDF file of his investigation we posted this morning on Pajamas. Everything we had heard about him was true – and more, possibly a lot more. I kept tossing in my bed, trying to puzzle out what kind of man behaves in the manner he did. Surely, a coward – but a coward of a special sort.

The more you read of the file the more you realize that there are many unanswered questions about Berger’s behavior that the government has not chosen to disclose (if they know). We cited some obvious ones with the PJ post, but so much of the file has been blacked out, there may be whole areas not yet imagined. What interests me here, however, are not the facts (I don’t have the sources for that), nor even the nearly obscene leniency of his sentence. (After reading even the redacted version, I can’t believe this man will have his security clearance back in three years. What judge allowed that?)

No, what interests me is Berger the man. What manner of moral reprobate could act they way he did after some three thousand people were murdered by Islamist terrorists. No doubt the inner Sandy has a raft of rationalizations, varied ways of justifying his criminal behavior to himself whether he was defending his own actions or Clinton’s or both. (It would be interesting to know, wouldn’t it?) Perhaps Berger is even sophisticated enough (though I suspect not) to reference EM Forster’s famous dictum: “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” But the problem is – Berger wasn’t just betraying his country, he was betraying real, living human beings, past and potential victims of terrorism. As we learned on 9-11, it doesn’t matter what country they come from. It is a betrayal of humanity as much as it is a betrayal of our country (though of course it is that.)

So “Pants” Berger is a coward of a special kind – a character out of a novel, something for a modern Tolstoy perhaps, a refined species of modern narcissist. He can also be looked at as an example of another highly-reviled category – traitor. I don’t use that word loosely at all either. I don’t regard Cindy Sheehan, for example, as a traitor or Michael Moore or any of those people, much as I disagree with them. They have vigorously espoused their opinions in a free society. Sandy Berger smuggled top secret documents out of our National Archives. We may never know what that was about, what was in them (or in their notes) or why he did it. He is a traitor. They are not.