FIRST/LAST BERGER POST
The short version seems to be that Sandy Berger did something really, really stupid, but not earth-shatteringly consequential, given the passive nature of the Justice Dept investigation against him. (the investigation has been going for many months, and he hasn't even been interviewed)
Also the "down his socks" thing sounds like the 9/11 boxcutters: It sounds good to write about, but it's probably not true. (for those who don't know, apparently the hijackers may have used pocket knives and pepper spray)
Gosh, if only Berger had used the classified documents he stupidly took home with him to politically discredit someone, maybe Ashcroft would be patting him on the back.
Still, this complex equation still holds:
(Wilson's exaggerations + Berger's supidity) <
(Chalabi's bullshit + OSP's bullshit + Cheney's repeated assertions of Iraq/AQ ties)
Lastly, some people are wondering who leaked this story out. Kevin thinks it was a Democrat
, arguing that a Republican would have waited until "late october" to leak it. This would make sense in that it falls in line with the "pre-emptive leak" strategy some Democrat may or may not have employed regarding the bogus Kerry-intern story last spring.
On the other hand, my gut, or my spider-sense or something, tells me that breaking a story on Sandy Berger would not translate to voters turning on Kerry or the Democrats. I would guess that Berger seems like a very distant name to a lot of Americans (at least those whose votes might change on a whim), and they wouldn't make that close an association, even if the RNC blast-faxed it to every house in flyover country.
However, the story is
more relevant to the 9/11 Commission and their final report, due in a couple days. In that regard, yes, the timing is fishy.
In the end, both of these are plausible.
Meanwhile, Laura Rozen notes
that for all the harping on Joe Wilson's credibility in certain circles, his central claim is, well, true. And Kevin
just posted on this too.
UPDATE ON BERGER: Via Yglesias
comes this tidbit
from the 9/11 Commission:
Al Felzenberg, spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, said the Berger investigation will have no bearing on the panel’s report.
In other words, Berger didn't take anything with the intent of hiding it from the Commission, and nothing in fact was hidden. So to recap: Still stupid, still illegal probably, but not to deliberately hide or hinder anything.