Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Democrats can do no wrong: That is, if you're an editor at The New York Times. When the news broke late yesterday that President Clinton's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, had gotten sloppy with classified information, the blogosphere jumped on it.
What I found most interesting, however, was how the various media outlets covered it. Or more accurately, didn't cover it.
CNN didn't think that the fact that the former NSA head is under investigation for a crime for pilfering highly classified documents from the National Archives is big news.
Nope, performer Linda Ronstadt shoving politics down the audience's collective throat is much more important than this.
The New York Times is little better. The Times report is a mere six paragraphs and appears to be buried deep in the paper. The Times deems nine "Washington" stories more important than Berger's faux pas -- including one on a lack of air traffic controllers.
The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal both give the story more appropriate play -- A2, in both cases. [WSJ link requires registration]
Getting to the substance of the case, one wonders what the heck Berger was thinking. It's bad enough that Berger "inadvertently" took several highly classified reports, but the fact that he was seen stuffing his notes into his pockets shows that the effort to remove classified materials was not unintentional. Notes taken from highly classified materials are also highly classified.
The fact that Berger (who should obviously have known better) took this stuff home -- and then apparently discarded some of the reports (I hope Iran didn't have spies going through his garbage) -- shows a troubling disdain for national security. After all, former FBI director John Deutch had to be pardoned by Clinton after he took classified documents home and put them on his home computer -- one that was connected to the Internet.
Berger's lawyer has described Berger's actions a result of "sloppiness."
Judging from what is known about the Clinton administration's response to terrorism during the '90s, I'd say that that description is accurate.
*UPDATE* Looking at a print edition of the New York Times reveals that the story is on A17 -- bottom of the page. I'm dumbfounded.