Friday, April 01, 2005
Under terms negotiated by Berger's attorneys and the Justice Department, he
has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and accept a three-year suspension of his
national security clearance. These terms must be accepted by a judge before they
are final, but Berger's associates said yesterday he believes that closure is
near on what has been an embarrassing episode during which he repeatedly misled
people about what happened during two visits to the National Archives in
September and October 2003.
The terms of Berger's agreement required him to acknowledge to the Justice
Department the circumstances of the episode. Rather than misplacing or
unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the
archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he
shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices
of his international consulting business.
There has to be something else going on here. I'm guessing that Berger has some "pictures" that would come to light if he were actually prosecuted, and the Justice Department does not want that evidence actually to surface. They played some chicken, and Berger ended up with a slap on the wrist.
I note that the suspension in security clearance ends almost exactly with the Bush Administration, so Berger will be free to take a job in the H. Clinton White House.