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BERGER’S “COPIES”

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By thisistwitchy  •  April 1, 2005 07:56 AM

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post describe the five documents taken by Sandy Berger as “copies” of documents he left at the National Archives.

The Times says, “in the plea agreement reached with prosecutors, he is expected to admit that he intentionally removed copies of five classified documents…”

The Post says Berger “will acknowledge intentionally removing and destroying copies of a classified document…”

Later the same Post article tells us:

Archives officials have said previously that Berger had copies only, and that no original documents were lost. It remains unclear whether Berger knew that, or why he destroyed three versions of a document but left two other versions intact. Officials have said the five versions were largely similar, but contained slight variations as the after-action report moved around different agencies of the executive branch.

Why would Berger destroy documents if they were merely copies of originals retained by Archives? For that matter, how did he gain access to copies? (I’m assuming he was not given access to a copy machine.) Did the files he was looking at contain multiple identical copies of each document?

Something just doesn’t smell right.

One of my readers, Jeanne, tries to sort it out:

If one carefully followed last summer’s coverage, it became apparent that each of the 5 versions [taken by Berger] bore unique handwritten notes or markings made by its recipient. That means each copy became an “original” document, i.e. containing information not depicted on the others.

Here is all I want to know: were all of the documents stolen by Berger identical to documents retained by Archives, or did any of Berger’s copies have unique notes or markings on them?

Unfortunately, even if the MSM were inclined to ask this question, it would be difficult to get a reliable answer since Berger shredded three of the five documents.

Update: Last summer, a commenter at Roger L. Simon’s site put it well:

It is becoming clear to me it’s the handwritten marginalia at issue, not the versions, since these would probably be available from computers, etc.

Let’s think about who would have been penning things on these docs for a minute: Berger, Clarke, The Big He, Gorelick, Janet Reno, William Cohen. Loads of possibilities for embarrassing comments from that bunch.

Writing this morning, Ed Morrissey says the documents taken by Berger were not copies:

They were not exact copies; each memo started off as a copy of an original draft by Richard Clarke, but the memos had handwritten notes from each recipient as comments, requests for revision, and suggestions for possible action. Each document was unique, and their destruction by Mr. Scissors means that we will never know what some did with Clarke’s information. All we know is that it must have reflected badly on Berger, Clinton, or both. Otherwise, why would Berger destroy them?

Update: Just had to add this. If you are a parent, you’ll immediately get the allusion in Michael King’s Berger post–best blog post title of the day!

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