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“To me the great danger is the complacency we have fallen into three and half years after 9-11.”
Who said that?
A. Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff
B. CIA Director Porter Goss
C. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez
D. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller
Any of those choices would have been a good guess. But none of those men made that statement. Instead, it was made, in my estimation, by a most unlikely character – former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger.
He made the comment a week ago while participating in a panel discussion on national security issues at Purdue University.
Why is it strange that Berger made such a statement?
Because Berger is the perfect, walking, talking example of just how complacent we have become as a nation about national security.
It has been nearly eight months since we first learned Berger was caught red-handed removing highly classified documents from the National Archives. It has been 14 months since he was caught. And it has been at least two months since a federal grand jury began investigating a possible indictment of Berger, and perhaps others, for the crime.
That is my definition of “complacency.”
In a time of war, a former national security adviser is pinched lifting national security secrets and 14 months later he is still out on the lecture circuit talking about national security. He has also lately been advising Sen. Hillary Clinton, thought to be a future presidential candidate, just as he advised Sen. John Kerry, last year’s Democratic nominee for the presidency on national security matters.
You talk about the fox guarding the henhouse! This man should be in a maximum security penitentiary, not lecturing college students and certainly not advising presidential candidates.
And think about the irony of Berger preaching about complacency. Since he was busted, we have learned that Sandy Burglar, excuse me, Berger blocked four separate plans of action against the al-Qaida terrorist network between 1998 and 2000. That’s what the 9-11 commission report found. Oh, and by the way, what was Berger doing in the National Archives when he was found stuffing national security secrets into his trousers and socks? He was said to be preparing former President Clinton to testify before that commission!
They say the wheels of justice move slowly.
In this case they are moving too slowly.
It’s time for the Justice Department, now under new leadership, to get serious about the Berger caper.
Let’s face it. If you or I were caught rifling through highly classified national security secrets, it wouldn’t take 14 months for the government to bring us to justice. If you or I were caught stealing highly classified national security secrets, it’s not likely we’d be taken seriously as a lecturer on the subject of national security on college campuses. If you or I were caught flagrantly violating laws governing national security secrets, we wouldn’t be invited to advise senators or future presidential candidates on national security matters.
Which raises what will become a serious question for this Justice Department and the Bush administration if they don’t indict Sandy Berger or explain to the American people why he’s above the law. What did Berger find in those archives? Did he find something so incriminating on this administration that no one dares lay a finger on him? Was he in the National Archives doing more than refreshing Bill Clinton’s memory? Was he covering up past abuses of his national security efforts? Or was he digging up dirt on the current administration?
What, if anything, does Sandy Berger have on the Republicans that prevents full and speedy prosecution of this crime?
If the Bush administration and the Gonzales Justice Department think they can sweep this crime under the rug and score some political points with their political opposition, they are sorely mistaken. It will then become a bipartisan scandal. It will then become clear to the American people that there are two standards of justice in this country – one for ordinary Americans and another for the privileged political elite.
Sandy Berger said something else of interest while speaking at Purdue more than a week ago. He said: “We need to make sure that the American dream is perceived as positive throughout the world.”
He’s right about that. We also need to make sure it is perceived as positive right here in the good old USA, too. And that’s a good reason to indict Sandy Berger sooner rather than later.