Skip to comments.Archives Installed Cameras After Berger Took Papers
Posted on 07/23/2004 9:37:06 PM PDT by conservative in nyc
ASHINGTON, July 23 - Officials at the National Archives were so concerned about Samuel R. Berger's removal of classified documents last year that they imposed new security measures governing the review of sensitive material, including the installation of full-time surveillance cameras, government officials said Friday.
The new policy, issued March 31 to security officers at the archives, lays out toughened steps for safeguarding research rooms used by nongovernmental employees who are given special access to classified material. And it demands "continuous monitoring" of anyone reviewing such material.
The restrictions were put in place as a direct result of the Berger episode, said a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding the continuing investigation.
Mr. Berger, the national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, has acknowledged that he took several copies of classified documents from a secure reading room last year when preparing for testimony before the Sept. 11 commission. He said the removal was a careless mistake, but leading Republicans have accused him of stashing documents in his clothing intentionally, perhaps as a way of hiding information that could be considered damaging to the Clinton administration.
The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation to determine whether federal laws on the handling of classified material may have been broken, and the disclosure of the investigation this week forced Mr. Berger to step down as a senior foreign policy adviser to Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign. Democrats have accused the Bush administration of leaking word of the investigation and exaggerating its importance to distract attention from this week's final report of the Sept. 11 commission.
After the issue first flared on Tuesday, Mr. Berger told reporters outside his Washington office that he had made "an honest mistake" and that he deeply regretted it.
He has maintained a low profile since then, even as the political furor over the case has grown. An associate of Mr. Berger said Friday that "this is a situation that any human being would find difficult.''
"He's tired," the associate said, "and he's reading through lots of e-mails from friends and doing work and just trying to deal with all this."
National Archives officials have reached no judgments on Mr. Berger's motives in removing the documents, and one law enforcement official said, "We don't know what he was thinking when he did it."
Nonetheless, officials at the National Archives viewed the episode as troubling enough that they reviewed their security procedures and issued new guidelines for dealing with nongovernmental researchers like Mr. Berger.
The guidelines do not refer specifically to Mr. Berger or his case, but they emphasize careful monitoring of researchers, prohibit cellphones, hand-held computers and other electronic devices in classified research rooms, and limit the volume and type of material that researchers may review.
Archive security officials use surveillance cameras at many of their public research sites. But the archives did not have cameras at the classified site in Washington that Mr. Berger used, and no video was taken of his research, officials said.
Concern over his case led the archives to install a surveillance system in the Washington research room and any areas used for classified research, said a second government official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
Susan Cooper, spokeswoman for the National Archives and Records Administration, said the agency routinely reviewed security procedures. But Ms. Cooper added that after the Berger episode, "it's fair to say that in light of the incident we took a look at what our procedures were and redid the guidelines and regulations to strengthen them."
The National Archives maintains about 25 public research sites around the country that allow researchers to sift through billions of pages of documents, the vast majority of them unclassified. For a small number of former senior government officials like Mr. Berger who retain security clearances, the agency also has separate classified research areas in Washington; College Park, Md.; and at some presidential libraries.
Mr. Berger, designated the Clinton administration's point man in reviewing documents for the Sept. 11 commission, visited the Washington research room three times in the summer and fall of 2003, spending a total of about 30 hours reviewing thousands of pages of classified documents, officials said.
After his second visit last September, security officials became suspicious because some copies of documents he reviewed appeared to be missing. Mr. Berger's lawyer, Lanny Breuer, said Mr. Berger later realized he had mixed in with his leather portfolio three or four versions of a lengthy classified report on terrorism. The report centered on millennium bombing plots in December 1999, and it concluded that counterterrorism efforts had not made a significant dent in Al Qaeda operations and that "sleeper cells" may have taken root in the United States, officials said.
Mr. Berger also acknowledged that he improperly put in his pockets some notes he wrote in reviewing the documents.
This story hasn't died yet.
If there is no video, his accusers are toast. The media will chew them up and spit them out.
Smile! You're on Sandy Camera!
Glad to see the National Archives took my suggestion (from yesterday's thread) to heart.
Closing the barn door after the horse's patootie is already out of the barn...
OK, the barn door's shut. Now WHERE did I put my horse?
So, PD, do we believe the Slimes or is their timeline off regarding the installation of the cameras? (Or are they just unaware of the HIDDEN cameras?)
You don't need video as proof that he took them improperly. The fact that they were in his possesion and he returned them is evidence that he took them. He has admitted taking them.
However, I will agree that the liberal media will do everything in their power to spin this so that he will get off as lightly as possible - "no harm, no foul" so to speak.
HA Ha ,,,I guess only the grand jury will know for sure....and Sandy Burgler shortly thereafter.
Someone needs to pass the "sandy burger act"!! No Clinton's or friends of Clinton's should come within 25 feet of a government building.
Shoot! I was looking forward to the video.
Nobody believes Berger's story, but the liberals will work feverishly to cover his behind. For them, the security of America plays second banana to implementing the liberal agenda.
OK, fine NY Slimes, where's the tape? Let's go to the videotape!
I'll bet Sandy ALREADY knows they have video. What will he say when it too is leaked? Perhaps something like "Can't we all just get along?" :o)
Probably gets front page, above the fold treatment from the Slimes. Sort of a "Haa-HAA!" ala Nelson from The Simpsons.
The Slimes' front page isn't up yet, but it doesn't look like this story will be there, based on where it is on their website.
I guess he will sue whoever leaked the video for his "loss of self-esteem"
In other words, our National Archives had to tighten security measures after the Clinton Mob breezed through town.... just like a drugstore would tighten security after being a new target of local hoodlum shoplifters.
Be proud of your thug politicians, Democrats.
Lots of folks on this thread are missing the point. Berger's problem is a federal felony prosecution that won't be influenced in the least by anything the press says for or against him. If there's enough evidence to convict him then he will pull prison time and the only opinion that will matter is that of the federal judge who passes sentence.
The interesting part is what he might to do avoid or reduce his time in a federal joint.
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