Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

If Only ... II

As the night follows the day, Democratic and media insinuations that the reports of Sandy Berger's theft of classified documents are "politically motivated" have followed those reports:

Former Clinton aide David Gergen, who worked with Berger in the White House, was interviewed on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday and said of Berger's actions, "I think it's more innocent than it looks."  Gergen said Berger was not attempting to remove anything critical of the Clinton administration.  .... "I have known Sandy Berger for a long time," he said. "He would never do anything to compromise the security of the United States."  Gergen also said he found it "suspicious" that news of the investigation should surface just at the Sept. 11 commission is about release its report.
Is stuffing highly classified documents from a secure area in one's socks and then destroying them "more innocent than it looks?" How could it not be?
But what of Mr. Gergen's "suspicious" insinuation? Is the timing "suspicious?" If the reports of Mr. Berger's theft had surfaced at any other time since last October, when the  investigation of Mr. Berger's theft began, there would have been some event or hearing in the immediate future that could have been cited as "suspicious." Senate Committee hearings? September 11 commission hearings? Release of September 11 commission preliminary draft? Release of Senate Committee report? Richard Clarke's book release fuss? Abu Graibe? Iraq government turnover? Various Democratic primaries? Senator Kerry's acknowledgment that Mr. Berger is his campaign advisor?  One could go on and on.
Can the reader think of a substantial period of time since October which has not been at least as politically charged as the present moment? In fact, we are now in the summer dolldrums during which the public is widely regarded as paying no attention whatsoever to political news. Late July and August are generally periods in which politicians try to "dump" information they want to have minimal effect. Further, the conclusions and contents of the final September 11  Commission report have been pretty much know for some time - the final, formal release of that report is hardly a very significant moment. The timing is anything but "suspicious."
Mr. Gergen knows all that. In fact, he was one of the pioneers at exploiting such devices of information release manipulation. But that doesn't stop him from dropping his uninformed insinuations.

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