WASHINGTON – Two days after he was placed on probation last month for taking classified documents, former national security adviser Sandy Berger (search) was accused of reckless driving in Virginia by police who said he was traveling 88 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone.
On Wednesday, Berger appeared before the same federal magistrate who had sentenced him on Sept. 8 in the documents case. Deborah Robinson admonished Berger, and she will decide eventually whether to punish him further.
The traffic offense occurred while Berger, the former national security adviser to President Clinton, is on a two-year probation handed down as part of his sentence in the document case.
Berger is scheduled to appear Oct. 18 in local traffic court in Fairfax County, Va., on the reckless driving ticket.
He was stopped on Sept. 10, and two days later he informed the probation office of the U.S. District Court that he had been speeding because he was late to a meeting and was unaware of how fast he was traveling.
The probation office "reiterated to Mr. Berger" that all violations of the law and probation are taken seriously, the office said in a two-page report to the federal magistrate dated Sept. 28. Berger had been headed east on Interstate 66, a major highway into Washington.
Berger's Sept. 8 sentencing capped a bizarre sequence of events in which he admitted to sneaking classified documents out of the National Archives (search) in his suit, later destroying some of them in his office and then lying about it.
"I let considerations of personal convenience override clear rules of handling classified material," Berger said at the time.
"In this case, I failed. I will not again," he vowed.
He called his actions a lapse of judgment that came while he was preparing to testify before the Sept. 11 Commission last year. The documents he took contained information on terror threats in the United States during the 2000 millennium celebration.
The Bush administration disclosed the investigation of Berger in July 2004, days before the Sept. 11 commission issued its final report. Democrats claimed the White House was using Berger to deflect attention from the harsh findings, with their potential for damaging President Bush's re-election prospects.
Initially saying his actions were an "honest mistake," Berger pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.
In the documents case, Robinson also fined Berger $50,000 and sentenced him to 100 hours of community service.