Shootout at the National Archives

SHOOTOUT AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES….According to this odd story in the Washington Post ? attributed to “government sources” and denied by Sandy Berger’s lawyer ? Berger removed copies of some documents from the National Archives during a visit in September, was caught, and subsequently returned them. However, employees were suspicious he might try to do it a second time, so they set up a special sting operation to catch him if he showed up again. And he did:

The government source said the Archives employees were deferential toward Berger, given his prominence, but were worried when he returned to view more documents on Oct. 2. They devised a coding system and marked the documents they knew Berger was interested in canvassing, and watched him carefully. They knew he was interested in all the versions of the millennium review, some of which bore handwritten notes from Clinton-era officials who had reviewed them. At one point an Archives employee even handed Berger a coded draft and asked whether he was sure he had seen it.

At the end of the day, Archives employees determined that that draft and all four or five other versions of the millennium memo had disappeared from the files, this source said.

This source and another government official said that archivists gave Berger use of a special room for reviewing the documents….Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said that employees closely monitor anyone cleared to review classified presidential materials.

Let me get this straight: (a) he had already been caught removing documents on a previous visit, (b) Archives employees set up a special coding system for his second visit, (c) they were watching him like a hawk the whole time ? and he must have known it since they had caught him once before, (d) they saw him taking dozens of pages of notes and didn’t stop him, (e) they saw him put those notes into his pockets, and (f) they must have also seen him put some documents in his portfolio as well.

But they let him walk out the door without challenging him. Why?