At Least He Didn’t Use a Truck

Just as I think lawyers should keep their law licenses current, or shouldn't be judges, so too I think that people who handle classified documents ought to play by the rules. Of course, the rules for classified documents in many cases are even sillier than the state bar system, since the government records system is rampant with over-classification.

So I'm not inclined to be all that charitable about Sandy Berger's admitted misdeeds, even as I think he's entitled to be presumed innocent of the ones he denies.

That said, just as there's a context in which every lawyer knows he's supposed to keep his bar membership current, so too there seems to be a context in which NCS types are sometimes a little fast and loose with the very same meaningless classifications they help create. And part of the context of the standard of this trade is the exploits of Henry Kissinger, who at the end of his government service made off with a truckload of secret documents (prepared by government workers at government expense) on the specious grounds that they were his personal property and had them conveyed to the David Rockefeller estate so that Kissinger could write his memoirs without fear of contradiction. (Kissinger also arranged for the illegal transfer of unique records to the National Archives in order to frustrate FOIA requests.) It took a lawsuit to make him give them back.

There's also a telling contrast between what Berger did when confronted (cooperate with the FBI to the best of his ability, it seems) and what Kissinger did when confronted by the National Security Archive (stonewall for all he was worth). And of course no one ever called the FBI on Kissinger, even though his purloining the documents (the only copies of the documents!) seemed criminal to me then, and seems criminal now.

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