Tonight at 9:00 - FOX News Special Report:
'Socks, Scissors, Paper: The Sandy Berger Caper'
Repeated Sunday at 4:00 p.m.
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Questions Probe of Theft at the National Archives
By Edward Barnes
Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., is charging a cover-up by the Justice Department in connection with the 2003 theft and destruction of top secret documents by Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. Davis also told FOX News that he is not convinced that Berger was not acting under direction from the Clinton Administration.
"I'm not convinced that he was acting alone," Davis said. "They could have well said, ‘Sandy, do you remember that document way back — that I wrote to you ... We can't get this into the record. This is gonna make us look terrible.' "
Davis' comments came in a FOX News special, "Socks, Scissors, Paper: The Sandy Berger Caper," to be broadcast on FOX News Channel on Saturday, March 31 at 9 p.m. EDT. The program is hosted by David Asman.
Davis is not the only one close to the case who says Berger's crimes need further investigation.
"I'll spend the rest of my life going to bed at night wondering, ‘Did he take more.’ The American people should go to bed every night wondering if he took more. We'll never know; only Sandy Berger knows," Inspector General of the Archives Paul Brachfeld told Asman.
Brachfeld was the first man to investigate the crime. Like Davis, Brachfeld's main concern is that Berger may have withheld key information about Clinton Administration anti-terror strategy and efforts from the 9/11 Commission. Brachfeld has remained silent for more than two years. But in the program he courageously speaks out on television for the first time.
Brachfeld, who has served in senior investigative posts at Customs, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Elections Commission and the Secret Service, says that the case was one of the most perplexing of his career.
"He is one of the true heroes of this saga," Asman says. "Without Brachfeld’s investigative skills and integrity this case might have been buried. But Brachfeld persisted and his clear-eyed analysis of the evidence forced the more timid bureaucrats to slowly, but finally, act."
Brachfeld says major questions remain over the extent of Berger’s theft of top secret "code word" documents, and the resulting damage done to the country’s national security. Code word documents are so highly classified that only a handful of people are ever allowed to read them.
The Fox program also reveals:
— There was a deep division inside the Justice Department about how to handle Berger, who ultimately was allowed to plead to misdemeanor charges, pay a small fine and avoid jail.
— DOJ lawyers involved in the case failed to let the 9/11 Commission know the scope and seriousness of the security breach, despite direct orders from top Justice officials.
— Contrary to the assurances the Justice Department made to Congress and to the 9/11 Commission, nobody but Berger can know whether he kept key documents and information about Clinton administration anti-terror efforts from the Commission.
— Berger’s lies were far more extensive than previously revealed.
— That no full assessment of the damage to national security has been conducted.
— That the Justice Department, in a break with precedent and procedure, relied on Berger’s statements despite a record that showed a history of lies.
Brachfeld also speaks for the first time about when he learned of Berger’s crimes.
As inspector general, he was the National Archive's top cop. But he was informed of Berger's thefts only after archivists, who oversee top secret presidential materials, had hastily organized their own amateurish sting operation and thoroughly botched the case.
The FOX News special, through interviews with Brachfeld, congressional investigators, 9/11 Commission members and Justice Department sources, as well as a detailed review of government reports, recounts in more detail than ever the scope and severity of Berger's crimes.
FOX News also reveals the stunning failure of the Archives — and particularly Presidential Materials Staff Director Nancy Smith — to secure the nation's most sensitive documents.
Among the security breakdowns:
— Smith, the person charged with safeguarding presidential documents, allowed Berger to view the top secret dossiers in her office instead of a secure room known as a SCIF (sensitive compartmentalized information facility) — as required by the CIA.
— Smith, in a serious breach of security protocols, often allowed Berger alone with the documents.
— When Smith and her staff became suspicious that Berger was stealing top secret documents, they did not report their suspicions to authorities, as required by their own rules. Instead, they concocted their own inept sting operation, which they subsequently botched. Brachfeld says that significantly comprised the case against Berger.
The FOX News program's title refers to the most notorious episode in the Sandy Berger case. On September 2, 2003, archivist John Laster reported catching Berger stuffing documents into his socks.
As the program reports, Berger dismisses the allegation that he stole top secret documents in his socks as "absurd and embarrassing."
Berger, however, does admit he made off with national security secrets in his suit jacket.
In the special, Asman retraces the steps Berger took when he stashed some highly sensitive documents under a construction trailer on a busy Washington, D.C. street near the Archives.
In the program, Rep. Davis renews his calls for Berger to undergo a lie detector test. He also charges for the first time that there is reason to believe Berger did not act alone in the thefts. Davis says phone calls Berger methodically made during the review of the documents raise the specter that Berger was coordinating the theft with others.
Berger would be required to submit to a polygraph under the terms of his plea agreement. But when Davis pressed DOJ to administer the test, the department refused.
"They gave us the finger, basically," Davis told Asman.
At the time he stole and destroyed the top secret documents, Berger — who served as National Security Advisor from 1997-2001 — was preparing to represent the Clinton administration in testimony before the 9/11 Commission concerning anti-terror measures that were taken before the New York City attacks.