I think that the Berger classified documents kerfluffle is pretty good diagnostic test for Republican tools. Everyone flogging this story bears The Mark of the Beast indelibly on his forehead (or hers: hi, Steno Sue!) and should never be taken seriously again.
And as Dave (almost) says below, Democrats who take the story at face value bear the mark of a different beast on their own foreheads. A weaker and more pitiful beast.
As Dave points out, this is a staged event meant to distract from the 9/11 Commission’s report. It’s been sitting on the shelf for months. The offense was not taken terribly seriously by the relevant authorities (e.g.the FBI or the 9/11 Commission itself). It’s not certain that what Berger did was a crime at all. And no information was destroyed or concealed from the committee — all Berger ever had was copies.
Most of the people circulating this story have to know that they’re lying. There’s really an smell of desperation among the trolls these days.
The pants-and-socks part of the story bears all the marks of a Rove operation — make your opponent look silly. It reminds me of the storyline way back when about Noriega’s red underpants. What kind of guy would wear red underpants? What kind of guy would put top secret documents in his socks, or grind them down into his groin area? (I tend to suspect that Berger put the documents in the parts of his pants called “the pockets”, where most people put things, but that doesn’t sound nasty enough.)
The odious Wolf Blitzer played along. Berger’s spokesman stated that Berger had indeed carried away some documents in his leather portfolio. But when Blitzer later referred to the portfolio, he had to call it “his little briefcase”. (See? Berger is such a ridiculous guy that even his briefcase is is a silly little briefcase! How much sillier could he get?)
My guess is that Berger failed to realize that, not only was he not the boss anymore, but that he was now on the opposing team. There were people waiting for him to screw up, and he screwed up. At this point no one has said anything about how strictly security rules had been applied before then, or how seriously cases of this kind are normally treated. But we do know that, early on, information about Berger’s offense was in the hands both of Ashcroft’s Justice Department and Rove’s White House — two organizations which have the habit of leaking sensitive material for political purposes.
The inside-baseball stuff is stupid and weak. One guy says that he thinks that the Democrats Biden or Holbrooke did the leaking. A lot of people argue that when Berger failed to inform Kerry about the leak, it showed that he was no damn good at all, and go on to argue that the fact that Kerry had trusted Berger (who does not have a long rap sheet) proves that Kerry is not fit to be President. (Follow that? — and this mostly comes from supporters of a guy who appointed several convicted Republican felons to high government positions!)
Except that there is so much at stake, these clowns would be hard to take seriously. But let me ask a question. Why is it that the various people talking gravely and thoughtfully about this farce are the sensible, mainstream professionals — and why is it that Dave and I are the wacko extremists?