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David Hines [userpic]

Man bites dog! Clinton bites Kerry?

July 22nd, 2004 (08:02 pm)
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I try to keep politics off the LJ (though I do get tempted to rant occasionally), but I will post interesting news stories. When a Washington figure creates a scandal by putting something into his trousers, that's news. Especially when the something is classified material. Sandy Berger, former National Security Adviser to President Clinton and until recently adviser to Senator Kerry (he was angling for a post as Secretary of State in a Kerry administration), is in big trouble.

One thing that has struck me about the story (other than, okay, the socks) isn't the leak of the investigation (I agree with Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum, who suspects a Democratic leaker), but who knew about it before the leak. In the Denver Post's coverage of President Clinton's book tour, there's a small stunner:

Clinton said he has known about the federal probe of Berger's actions for several months, calling this week's news a "nonstory."
Meanwhile, Senator Kerry was asked about it Wednesday night by Tom Brokaw:
Brokaw: "Did you know that [Berger] was under investigation?"

Kerry: "I didn't have a clue, not a clue."

Brokaw: "He didn't share that with you?

Kerry: "I didn't have a clue."
I believe that. Kerry would've been crazy to keep Berger on otherwise. But here's the thing: Sandy Berger knew he was being investigated, and didn't tell Senator Kerry. And President Clinton knew Sandy Berger was being investigated, and he didn't tell Kerry.

If I were Kerry, I would be very, very, very pissed.


Posted by: Vvalkyri (vvalkyri)
Posted at: July 23rd, 2004 06:52 am (UTC)

It's all still very odd. The timing of the leak is crazy, and if someone saw him putting a document in his socks (I thought that was disputed and the issue was mostly that he kept his notes) then why did they let him out the door?

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: July 23rd, 2004 08:49 am (UTC)

If I worked at Archives, I'd sure as hell hesitate to call a former National Security Adviser a thief. (They may also have wanted to know what he was doing with 'em...)

Posted by: Vvalkyri (vvalkyri)
Posted at: July 23rd, 2004 07:23 am (UTC)

::listening to diane rehm show right now re this issue::
Other problems being that the guards kept leaving him alone in there; the only documents in question are copies of documents he'd written; he was supposed to let people looko over his notes and did not.

Consensus was that he acted pretty stupidly. But whoever leaked this it was pretty damned off to try to steal the commission report's spotlight.

Why do you think it would be a Democrat to leak it?

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: July 23rd, 2004 08:45 am (UTC)

You said it: if a Republican leaked it, it'd be pretty damned off. The Commission report gets it out of the news quickly, and then the Democratic Convention makes for a bunch of good news for Kerry, so it doesn't work. If a Republican got this, he'd hold onto it till mid-October at the earliest, to sucker-punch the Dems. National Review's Jonah Goldberg points out that Lanny Davis, a spinmeister for the Clinton administration, did just this sort of thing a lot. From a 1999 Washington Post article:

Davis coins the marvelously bureaucratic phrase "deep-background private placement" to describe negative stories about the White House that he leaked to put the least damaging version in play. Davis's favorite outlet was the Associated Press, not only because it is "notoriously fact-oriented and fair" but because once a story was on the wire, such newspapers as The Washington Post and New York Times "would not be inclined to give it front-page play." [. . .]

Thus, Davis called the reporter he deemed most fair, the AP's John Solomon, with documents suggesting that Clinton had made fund-raising calls from the White House residence. The leak occurred on July 3, 1997, so the story would get lost on the Fourth of July holiday.

The Sandy Berger story was broken by John Solomon, and first ran on the Associated Press. And President Clinton's team knew about it, while Kerry's didn't...

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