Let Sandy Berger Have His Say

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In response to my U.S. News column this week, Sandy Berger has sent me the following E-mail. I'm presenting it as written, with typos corrected, with his permission. I've had my say; let him have his say.

"Michael: I screwed up. There was nothing sinister about it. I was under serious pressure to digest the entire Clinton record on terrorism for eight years so that we could testify fully to the 9-11 commission. I spent several arduous days at the Archives looking through the files. This document was interesting to me because I had commissioned it in 2000–a look at what we learned from the millennium terror threats that were avoided. Tired, stressed, I made a very stupid decision–to take the documents home with me so that I could review them in more detail and so that I could compare the apparent differences among versions. Since this document had been widely circulated to all the relevant agencies (State, Defense, CIA, Justice, etc.), I felt certain the commission would get it from one or more of these agencies.

There were no handwritten markings on the documents (which were copies) or anything else unusual. I took no other documents–originals or copies–besides the ones specified in my plea agreement.

The DOJ has stated unequivocally that there is no evidence that I took other documents and that the commission received everything.

That's the long and short of it. I made a very stupid mistake. I deeply regret it. Top-level career Justice Department prosecutors investigated it aggressively for two years. We reached a plea agreement that they believed was fair. That was two years ago. Now I wish this thing would go away.

Best, Sandy"