The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Berger the Burglar - might this one be true?

There have been one or two stories recently that have been as heavy on sensation as they were light on evidence: the Seymour Hersh boy sodomy business (July 15) and the Iyad Allawi one-man firing-squad affair (July 19).

Insofar as we've had a (partial) admission from the person accused, the Sandy Berger lifted documents caper is a little more definite, but not much.

Jury questions arising are numerous, intriguing and well in hand elsewhere (Josh Marshall has several pieces with links: start here, and scroll up).

Chapeaux! to the hack who hit on the stuffing down the socks notion: in itself, absurd and, on a sober evaluation, tending to discredit the whole story. But it catches the imagination (à la the Hill and Knowlton Kuwaiti incubator wheeze [1]), and fathers another -gate - and obviously we can't have too many of those!

Point to watch in the coverage: the conflation of documents with copies of documents. The WaPo piece yesterday talks about copies, for instance.

A couple of points on the copy/original question:

  1. If Berger's intention had been espionage - to purloin the information in the documents - it would make no difference whether he had taken copies or originals.

    But if his intention had been to destroy evidence, clearly, copies would be no use to him: he would have needed to take originals - and track down and destroy all the extant copies as well!

    Each alternative motive is patently absurd. But the oops theory being purveyed by Berger's mouthpiece Larry Breuer (on Wolf Blitzer and elsewhere) is also less than convincing.

  2. If Berger removed copies, rather than originals, from the National Archives building, how did the staff know he'd done it?

(How does one reconcile the
thousands and thousands of pages of classified documents
that Breuer says Berger reviewed with the fact that - according to the WaPo piece - Berger only spent three days down at the Archives? I thought we were canning it on the jury questions. Ed.)

Marshall wonders why Berger remained as a Kerry adviser. When did Kerry get to know the investigation was ongoing? How deeply did his operatives go into the case with Berger? Aren't all the Kerrymen subject to what is known in the UK as positive vetting to shake out skeletons like Berger's?

(My guess is that there are so many Kerry advisers that such checks are impractical.)

  1. Links in February 17 2003 piece. Where is Nayirah al-Sabah these days, I wonder?

    Or perhaps JP Morgan and the midget (June 25) is more in point...

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