Will Democrats Ever Get Serious About Security?

The Democratic Party again has shown why they can’t be trusted to be in charge.

This time their utter lack of leadership skills has been made painfully evident in their response to the reports of Bill Clinton’s national security advisor Sandy Berger’s pilfering of “highly classified” documents from the National Archives. The AP reported that the documents “were highly classified and included critical assessments about the Clinton adminstration’s handling of the millennium terror threats as well as identification of America’s terror vulnerabilities at airports and seaports.”

One might expect a major political party that wants to run the country, and thereby assume responsibility for national security, might show some concern that a major figure within that party was taking classified material and stuffing documents in his pants, jacket, socks, or any other items of clothing.

But if that party in question is the Democratic Party, expect partisan spin blaming the Republicans for the “suspicious” timing of the report instead of pushing for answers to the serious questions. Here are a few examples:

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle:

    “I do think the timing is very curious. Given [that] this has been under way now for this long, somebody leaked it, obviously, with an attempt, I think, to do damage to Mr. Berger. And I think that’s unfortunate.” (Source: The Washington Times, July 21, 2004)

    “[I]t’s not surprising to me that some Republicans would describe motives to Mr. Berger. I think that we don’t need to politicize this investigation.” (Source: News Conference, July 21, 2004)

Bill Clinton:

    “We were all laughing about it on the way over here. . . . People who don’t know him might find it hard to believe. But . . . all of us who’ve been in his office have always found him buried beneath papers. . . . I wish I knew who leaked it. It’s interesting timing. I feel terrible for Sandy. But I just believe his explanation because I know how much he cared about this . . . terrorism business.” (Source: The Denver Post, July 21, 2004)

Hillary Clinton:

    “The timing speaks for itself.” (Source: USA Today, July 21, 2004)

Kerry Campaign:

    “[Republicans are trying to] divert attention away from the 9/11 commission report. . . . Instead of using the report’s recommendations to learn how we can improve our homeland security, Republicans are playing politics with an inquiry.” (Source: Spokesman Phil Singer quoted in The Washington Times, July 21, 2004)

    “The timing of this leak suggests that the White House is more concerned about protecting its political hide than hearing what the commission has to say about strengthening our security.” (Source: Campaign Statement quoted in The New York Times, July 22, 2004)

Joe Lockhart, Berger Spokesman and former Clinton White House Press Secretary:

    “This is a terrible experience for him, and he’s embarrassed by his mistakes, but I think he also feels a sense of injustice that after building a reputation as a tireless defender of this country that many Republicans would try to assassinate his character to pursue their own ends.” (Source: The Washington Post, July 22, 2004)

Sen. Barbara Mikulski:

    “Is this about Sandy Berger, or is this about politics?” (Source: The Washington Times, July 21, 2004)

John Edwards:

    LARRY KING: I want to get into some things very current. What’s your reaction, Senator, to the whole Sandy Berger story, the investigation, the handling of the terror documents and Sandy removing himself as an adviser to John Kerry?

    EDWARDS: Well, I actually know Sandy Berger well. I think he’s a terrific public servant, a very good man. I, of course, know — I know no more about the facts of what happened than what you’ve read in the news and I’ve read in the news.

    I think that Sandy is a guy who’s — who’s been giving advice to Bill Clinton, to myself, to John Kerry, to others. So we’ll find out at the end of the day what — what the investigation reveals.

    LARRY KING: They’ve been going on since October. Are you suspicious of the timing of the leak one day before the commission report?

    EDWARDS: Well, I guess my — my instinct is to trust the American people’s judgment about whether this seems political or not. I, of course, don’t have any inside information. I don’t know whether it’s political or not. The timing is — is — is certainly close to the Democratic convention, but I have no way of knowing.

    LARRY KING: Are you saying, though, in your heart Sandy Berger would not do anything knowingly illegal?

    EDWARDS: He doesn’t seem like the kind of man who would do anything knowingly illegal to me, no. (Source: CNN’s “Larry King Live,” July 21, 2004)

Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.):

    “There’s more politics around this town than you can cut with a knife. It’s unbelievable. I have never seen Washington so partisan-charged. And frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of it. And I suspect that the American people are getting very tired of it as well.” (Source: Fox News’ “Special Report with Brit Hume,” July 20, 2004)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

    “Well, if the speaker thinks that he allegations against Sandy Berger would cloud the 9/11 commission report, then he should speak to the administration, who had some very suspicious timing in the release of that information. I, too, think it may cloud it, but I think I would look to the executive branch to say why, when they had enough information for nearly a year, when the 9/11 commission had the information for at least six months, that the timing would be this very week that the administration would leak this at a time when the 9/11 commission is coming out.” (Source: Press Conference, July 21, 2004)

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe:

    “According to recent reporting, an investigation into former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger has been going on for at least nine months, since October 2003. Yet, the criminal investigation only came to light three days prior to the release of a report expected to be critical of the Bush administration’s lack of focus on the events leading up to the 9-11 attacks. . . . In light of the seriousness of the possibility that the Bush administration and the Department of Justice have politicized an ongoing investigation, it is imperative that this Freedom of Information request is responded to in an expedited manner.” (Source: FOIA Request to Dept. of Justice, July 21, 2004)

Howard Dean:

    HEIDI COLLINS (HOST): Let me turn the corner quickly here. Does it concern you at all about the latest story that’s come out about Samuel Berger and these classified documents? Do you think there’s any chance that this issue is going to cloud the convention?

    DEAN: I doubt it very much.You know, we don’t know what the facts were about the missing documents. Sandy Berger seems to have a plausible explanation. I think the timing is, of course, always suspect.

    How did this investigating go one for two months, and then it gets leaked the week of the Democratic National Convention?

    So, I think that it’s just more Washington stuff, as usual. (Source: CNN’s “American Morning,” July 22, 2004)