Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Are Those Notes in Your Pants, or are You Just Happy to See Me?

Where in the Justice Department is there another prosecutor with the tenacity of Patrick Fitzgerald? While Mr. Fitzgerald went after VP Cheney and Lewis “Scooter” Libby over the Valerie Plame affair they seemed to be unconcerned that former National Security Advisor and Clinton Historian-in-Chief Samuel “Sandy” Berger had removed many more original, un-archived documents from the National Archives than originally believed. Even for what was known to have been removed, the Justice Department seemed to be okay with Berger’s assertion that the removal of any documents was purely accidental, even though archive staffers witnessed Berger stuffing documents down his pants and wrapping them around his legs. The discovery that he hid garbage bags of documents at a construction site appears to be of little concern to the Justice Department.

The Department continued to pursue Cheney and Libby even after it was public knowledge that Richard Armitage was the original “leaker” and that a federal grand jury had decided that no crime was committed as to the “outing” of Ms. Plame. They are, however, completely satisfied with their conduct in the investigation of the Berger affair even though it is clear federal law has been broken. I guess this should have been expected since during the Plame investigation Justice failed to investigate Ms. Plame using her position to get her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, a federal appointment. Mr. Fitzgerald could have also looked in to what many believe were a manipulation of the facts in Wilson’s report to the Bush Administration on Iraq’s attempt to buy “yellow-cake” uranium from Niger. The Butler Report, released by the UK Government, seems to contradict the assertions made by Wilson in his formal report to the White House.

Mr. Berger’s original statement to investigators has proven to be a lie "Last year, when I was in the Archives reviewing documents, I made an honest mistake. It is one that I deeply regret; I dealt with this issue in October 2003 fully and completely. Everything that I have done all along in this process has been for the purpose of aiding and supporting the work of the 9/11 commission, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply, absolutely wrong." (USA Today 7/21/2004). So hiding documents in ones underpants and then burying them is an honest mistake? Lying to investigators about the number and content of documents is an honest mistake? The federal prosecutor seemed to think that this was a reasonable explanation of his actions. Is this not why Scooter Libby is currently on trial? Mr. Libby, accused of no crime other than lying to prosecutors, awaits the results of a jury, yet Sandy Berger roams free. Why is Mr. Berger held to a different standard?

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