Sandy Berger

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Sandy Berger's booking photo. [1]

Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger (October 28, 1945 - December 2, 2015) is a liberal foreign policy expert who served as Deputy National Security Advisor (1993–96) and National Security Advisor to President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001. The most influential National Security Advisor since Henry Kissinger, Berger was more of a pragmatic political advisor and was not a strategic thinker with a grand vision. Critics said he let polls drive foreign policy, and indeed Clinton did receive good press. Berger worked well with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Defense Secretary William Cohen—they formed the "ABC group" and shaped major policy issues. He was a foreign policy advisor to the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008, but received no position when she became Secretary of State. He now is an advisor to businesses involved in international trade.


Berger's father operated a small business but died when the boy was eight, so he put himself through college, taking a BA from Cornell in 1967 and a law degree from Harvard in 1971.

Berger had long been active in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Strongly opposed to the Vietnam War he wrote speeches for leftist presidential candidate George McGovern in 1972, when he became friends with Clinton. He worked for several liberal Congressmen, then became a wealthy Washington lawyer specializing in international trade.

Stolen documents

Two years after Berger left office he reviewed classified documents at the National Archives in July, September and October 2003 in connection with requests for documents made by the National Commission Investigating Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9-11 Commission). On September 2, 2003, and again on October 2nd, Berger concealed and removed a total of five xerox copies of classified documents from the Archives. The documents were different versions of a single document. Berger, who possessed a United States government security clearance and was aware of the laws and rules regarding classified documents, knew he was not authorized to remove the classified documents from the Archives.

Berger took the documents to his office in Washington, D.C., where he destroyed three of the copies. Soon after the October visit, the Archives discovered that documents were missing and, two days later, contacted Berger. Initially, Berger did not tell the Archives staff that he had taken the documents but later that night told Archives staff that he had “accidentally misfiled” two of them.[1] He was sentenced to two years probation, fined $50,000, and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Two days after sentencing, Berger faced a revocation of probation for violating the terms of his probation due to a reckless driving charge.

A Fox News Channel special, "Socks, Scissors, Paper: The Sandy Berger Caper," broadcast on March 31, 2007 detailed Berger's theft:

  • There was a deep division inside the U.S. Justice Department about how to handle Berger, who ultimately was allowed to plead to misdemeanour charges, pay a small fine and avoid jail.
  • DOJ lawyers involved in the case failed to let the 9/11 Commission know the scope and seriousness of the security breach, despite direct orders from top Justice officials.
  • Contrary to the assurances the Justice Department made to Congress and to the 9/11 Commission, nobody but Berger can know whether he kept key documents and information about Clinton administration anti-terror efforts from the Commission.
  • Berger's lies were far more extensive than previously revealed.
  • That no full assessment of the damage to national security has been conducted.
  • That the Justice Department, in a break with precedent and procedure, relied on Berger's statements despite a record that showed a history of lies.

Berger was responsible for bring Mary McCarthy [2] within the Clinton Administration.[3] McCarthy, who worked with CIA Inspector General John Helgerson,[4] was later fired for leaking classified information.

Berger forfeited his law license on May 17, 2007.[5] For the incident, Berger is sometimes remembered as "Sandy Burglar".[6]


Berger died of cancer on December 2, 2015.

Further reading

  • Samuel R. Berger. "Foreign Policy for the Global Age," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 79, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 2000), pp. 22–39 in JSTOR


External links