WASHINGTON – A group of House Republicans called Wednesday for a congressional investigation into the improper handling of classified documents by President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger.
Berger admitted last year that he deliberately took classified documents out of the National Archives in 2003 and destroyed some of them at his office. He pleaded guilty in federal court to one charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material and was fined $50,000.
Ten lawmakers led by House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., released a letter calling for the House Government Reform Committee to investigate.
They asked the committee to determine whether any documents were missing from Clinton administration terrorism records, to review security measures for classified documents and to seek testimony from Berger.
Hunter's spokesman, Joe Kasper, said the Justice Department had asked Congress to hold off on any oversight until the legal case concluded.
"It's important that the House conduct its own review to ensure there is a clear understanding of the facts, and sensitive and highly classified security information is not potentially compromised in the future," Kasper said.
Berger's lawyer, Lanny Breuer, did not immediately return a call for comment. A spokesman for the Government Reform Committee said the panel was reviewing the letter.
At issue is a strange sequence of events in which Berger admitted to sneaking classified documents out of the National Archives in his suit, later destroying some of them and then lying about it. The Bush administration disclosed the investigation in July 2004, just days before the Sept. 11 commission issued its final report.
During Berger's sentencing hearing Breuer characterized Berger as eager to get the facts of the Sept. 11 attacks right when he took the material, which contained information relating to terror threats in the United States during the 2000 millennium celebration.