Berger fined $50,000 over documents

Sept. 8, 2005 at 8:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger has been fined $50,000 for removing and destroying copies of classified documents from the National Archives.

Berger avoided jail time Thursday when he was sentenced in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C. He said his decision to remove the material during three visits to the archives in 2003 was "indefensible."

Berger, who served as former President Bill Clinton's top national security official, said his actions "were wrong, they were foolish, I deeply regret them, and I have every day since."

Federal Magistrate Deborah Robinson imposed the higher-than-expected fine and ordered Berger to perform 100 hours of community service.

Berger was reviewing the material as part of his preparation for testifying before the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He shed little light on his motive for removing the documents, the newspaper reported, except to say he had put his own "personal convenience" ahead of federal law during his review of the papers.

Court filings suggest both prosecutors and defense lawyers believe Berger's action resulted from pressure, fatigue and confusion, rather than from intent to hide damaging information about the Clinton administration, as some Berger critics charge.

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