The Spectacle Blog

Berger vs Keyser: A Double Standard?

By on 12.13.05 | 8:21AM

The Washington Times' Jerry Seper reports this morning on the guilty plea entered by former top State Department official Donald Keyser for "unlawfully removing classified U.S. government documents, including some 'top secret' material, and to making false official statements." Keyser, former principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, faces eight years in prison, disqualification from holding any public office and $250,000 in fines. According to reports, Keyser was a highly regarded career employee whose counsel was valued by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. $250K. 8 years in the slammer.

Last year, former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemenor for what several news agencies reported as the following: stealing from the National Archives -- by stuffing in his pants and socks -- several copies of some of the most highly guarded national security documents held by the US government; shredding with scissors the aforementioned "code-word" classified documents (for those unfamiliar with different levels of classification, it doesn't get any higher than "code-word" or "code-black" as it's known in the trade); and lying about the incident to federal agents for about a year.

DOJ prosecutors allowed Berger to plead to a misdemeanor despite having eyewitnesses to the FELONY. The DOJ requested punishment was $10K, probation and a loss of his security clearance for a few years. At sentencing, the outraged judge upped the fine to $50,000. The judge could not impose a jail sentence as the misdemeanor did not carry a potential jail sentence.

Had Berger been a Republican appointee, what are the chances that he would have gotten off with such a light tap on the wrist?

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