July 20, 2004

Webb Hubbell Redux

It may all turn out to be just a bureaucratic snafu.

For now though, there's lots of buzz on the Berger revelations. Stick with Glenn and just keep scrolling for links and comment. And Michelle Malkin wonders why anyone would be surprised at a story about "files" turning up missing involving a Clinton administration official.

People are scratching their heads over "what the $#@&" Berger's motive could have been. Was he gathering info to embarrass the Bush campaign or info to help the Kerry campaign? The point is made that in October of 2003 Kerry wasn't even the favorite for the nomination yet.

I'm more inclined to think it was an attempt at more airbrushing of the Clinton administration's history. Perhaps Berger was covering his own butt. He was, after all, the man who turned down Osama bin Laden's head on a platter because he wasn't sure he could get a conviction in court.

But I suspect bigger butts were being covered by Berger's theft. Disclosures of any advance knowledge of the presence of Al Qaeda operatives in the U.S., for example, and accompanying inaction by the Clinton people would be a killer for any Democrat's credibility on national security matters this November.

It seems like when the Clintons' asses get too close to the fire, someone has to "take one for the team", just as Webb Hubbell had to do back in the day. This is excerpted from an AIM article on earlier Clinton scandals:

The risk that was taken and the effort that was put into raising the money to buy Hubbell's silence indicates that someone placed a high value on the information he had. The Government Reform Committee released a taped phone conversation between Hubbell and his wife when he was in prison. On the tape, Hubbell's wife tells him that the White House is pressuring her to get him to drop his plan to counter sue his former law firm. She tells him that she will lose her well-paid job at the Department of the Interior if he goes ahead with the lawsuit. Hubbell tells her, "I'm hearing the squeeze play. So I need to roll over one more time."

Is Berger "rolling over" to protect his party?

I caught Rush in the car at lunch today musing that had this story involved current NSA Condoleeza Rice, that she would already be in an orange jumpsuit in the cell next to Martha Stewart, and the Democrats would be drafting articles of impeachment. (paraphrasing there) Well at least it would have rated something flashier than page 17 of the N.Y. Times.

And one blog commenter noted the uniqueness of a Clinton administration official getting in trouble for what he put INTO his pants.

Dan Drezner gives good comment, and Andrew Sullivan says prosecute him aggresively. A friend pointed out to me today that any Justice Dept. charges now would put the spotlight on Ashcroft, and make Berger a sympathetic figure as a result. Bad move. I think he should just be left to squirm for a while. He can ask Joe Wilson how it feels.

UPDATE 7/21: The WSJ calls for the release of the documents in question:

If it's all as innocent as Mr. Berger's friends are saying, there's no reason not to make them public. But there are good reasons for questioning Mr. Berger's dog-ate-my-homework explanation. To begin with, he was not simply preparing for his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. He was the point man for the Clinton Administration, reviewing and selecting the documents to be turned over to the Commission...

...Attorney General John Ashcroft... recommended that the Commission "study carefully" the after-action memo. He described it as laying out vulnerabilities and calling for aggressive remedies of the type he and the Bush Administration have been criticized for. Mr. Ashcroft further noted that when he took office, this "highly classified review" was "not among" the items he was briefed on during the transition.

So, not only did the Clintons fail to act responsibly on the recommendations and warnings of their own advisors on terrorism, it appears they may have failed to brief the incoming Bush administration on the situation. Release the originals of the pilfered documents, and let the people render their judgment on the Clinton administration's behavior.

Posted by dan at July 20, 2004 09:15 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?