Regarding last night’s breaking news about former Red China lobbyist, ex-Clinton toady and current Kerry hack Sandy Berger, I won’t spend 500 words here on pants jokes. Instead, I’ll just link to a whole gigantic page of them, and then move on.
Everybody back now? Good. Time to be more serious for a moment.
Unlike Josh Marshall, I do happen to know what the rules are for reading, handling and taking notes from classified materials, and more importantly, what the rule is for removing that information from a secure area without both permission and adequate safeguards.
Here’s the rule: you can’t do it.
It’s a crime.
Everybody who’s ever had a clearance knows that.
If I did what Sandy Berger has already admitted to–smuggling out classified documents in his pants–I could and probably would go to jail. And no, Josh, it doesn’t matter if you remove “copies”; a classified document is a classified document, no matter whether it came from a laser printer, a Xerox machine, or someone’s own handwriting. The media doesn’t matter; the content is everything. There can be 10,000 copies present in the vault, but if you remove one of them surreptitiously, you’re guilty. Period.
That’s a hard thing for “journalists” who bandy about allegedly-leaked classified information to grasp, I’m sure. But it’s still the law.
And one more thing: there is no good reason for Berger to be smuggling out classified information.
If he actually carried either notes or actual documents out of a classified vault, he did so because there was something in those documents he (a) didn’t want anybody else to learn about, and/or (b) was so potentially damaging to himself or his patrons, he felt the need to have a copy of his own for protection (the latter would also prove Berger to be incredibly stupid, as well as venal).
No amount of spin from the left side of the aisle can produce any possible legitimate reason for Sandy Berger to be sneaking out classified paperwork in his pants–or anywhere else. One more time: There is no “good” reason for doing what Berger admits he did.
Those who spent the last year huffing and puffing over the “outing” of Mrs. Joe Wilson are doing their own credibility no favors by making excuses for Berger’s apparent criminal actions. And they certainly aren’t doing their nation any favors if they fail to condemn Berger, or demand that he face justice.