The Blog

The Gap

Sandy Berger's pilfering of papers from the archive should be big trouble for the Democrats. Why is the press AWOL?

12:00 AM, Jul 22, 2004 • By HUGH HEWITT
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We will probably never know what Berger erased from the record. The idea that he smuggled sensitive documents and then "lost" them is absurd. If there were "damning admissions against interest," as trial lawyers like to say, among the papers, Berger probably could be counted on to arrange the carrying away and return of enough paper as to obscure the trail and cloak the reference. Why has the investigation gone on so long? There is a complex paper trail here, and hopefully the government is attempting to recreate everything that was in the archive before Berger scarred it. That will take a long time, perhaps even requiring the fetching of computers and the recreation of electronic transmissions.

But eventually the public needs to know not what was attempted to be excised from the archive--it may be too sensitive to reveal--but only if there was information unique to the draft(s) that Berger lost. If there was, Berger wasn't being sloppy. He was being precise.

Finally, the Kerry campaign quickly assured everyone that it knew nothing. It is interesting that Nixon tried to persuade the public of the very same point. You don't believe Nixon, do you? "[T]o this day many people are not aware that Rose was exonerated by the Special Prosecutor in regard to the 181/2-minute gap," Nixon noted in his memoir:

Rose Woods testified under oath concerning the 18 and 1/2 minute gap before a court hearing and the grand jury. In the hearing she was subjected to hours of merciless cross-examination on this issue. On July 17, 1974, Leon Jaworski informed Rose's attorney that no case had been developed of any illegal action of any kind by Rose, and that no charges would be made against her. He said that his assistant, Richard Ben-Veniste, agreed.

Has Berger been before a grand jury yet? Is Ben-Veniste as aggressive on gaps in the record today as he was 30 years ago?

Hugh Hewitt is the host of a nationally syndicated radio show, and author most recently of If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends Upon It. His daily blog can be found at HughHewitt.com.