Friday, September 09, 2005

The $50,000 Cover Up

Well, Sandy Berger has received his punishment:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A judge on Thursday ordered Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, to pay a $50,000 fine for illegally taking classified documents from the National Archives. The punishment handed down by U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson exceeded the $10,000 fine recommended by government lawyers. Under the deal, Berger avoids prison time but he must surrender access to classified government materials for three years.

"The court finds the fine is inadequate because it doesn't reflect the seriousness of the offense," Robinson said, as a grim-faced Berger stood silently.

Okay, he gets fined five times the amount recommended by the government lawyers. At least there's an attempt to emphasize the seriousness of STEALING and DESTROYING classified government documents. What I don't get is why he should ever be allowed to access classified documents again. Three years? Sheesh.
The sentencing capped a bizarre sequence of events in which Berger admitted to sneaking classified documents out of the Archives in his suit, later destroying some of them in his office and then lying about it. After initially saying it was an "honest mistake," Berger pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material, which contained information relating to terror threats in the United States during the 2000 millennium celebration.
Kinda makes you wonder what was worth $50,000 to cover up.