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Friday, July 23, 2004

he New York Times > Opinion > Mr. Berger's Incredible Misadventure

The New York Times > Opinion > Mr. Berger's Incredible Misadventure: "Mr. Berger's Incredible Misadventure

Exactly why Samuel Berger removed copies of classified documents from the National Archives last October is not clear. Mr. Berger, the former national security adviser to President Clinton who was a Kerry adviser until Tuesday, wasn't going to be able to alter the records or give John Kerry an edge. The missing documents were copies of memos, which Mr. Kerry would have had access to anyway.
If, as Mr. Berger says, the removal was simply a blunder, it was inexcusably careless legally and daft politically. Senator Kerry can't be too happy that Mr. Berger compounded his initial sin by not informing him of the Justice Department's inquiry when it began in January. Mr. Berger and his lawyers may be indignant about the investigation being leaked, but they must have known it would get out.
Meanwhile, the Republican hyperventilating is overdone. The same Congressional leaders who shrugged at the leaking of a C.I.A. agent's identity to punish her husband, a critic of administration policy, demand hearings on Mr. Berger. The politicians should all let the Justice Department do its job.
Of real concern is that bleeding, yet again, of politics into criminal justice. After initially claiming it knew nothing of the case, the White House has had to admit it was informed. That sort of heads-up taints both sides. It leaves the White House open to questions about whether it timed a leak to the release of the 9/11 panel's report, and it feeds cynicism about the independence of federal prosecutors. Mr. Kerry, by the way, ought to stop stoking that cynicism with groundless claims that the prosecution of Kenneth Lay was improperl"

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