Perhaps this information was what Sandy Berger was belatedly trying to dispose of:
The [9/11 Commission] report cites a 1998 meeting between Mr. Berger and the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, at which Mr. Tenet presented a plan to capture Osama bin Laden.
“In his meeting with Tenet, Berger focused most, however, on the question of what was to be done with Bin Ladin if he were actually captured. He worried that the hard evidence against Bin Ladin was still skimpy and that there was a danger of snatching him and bringing him to the United States only to see him acquitted,” the report says, citing a May 1, 1998, Central Intelligence Agency memo summarizing the weekly meeting between Messrs. Berger and Tenet.
In June of 1999, another plan for action against Mr. bin Laden was on the table. The potential target was a Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan known as Tarnak Farms. The commission report released yesterday cites Mr. Berger’s “handwritten notes on the meeting paper” referring to “the presence of 7 to 11 families in the Tarnak Farms facility, which could mean 60-65 casualties.”According to the Berger notes, “if he responds, we’re blamed.”
On December 4, 1999, the National Security Council’s counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, sent Mr. Berger a memo suggesting a strike in the last week of 1999 against Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Reports the commission: “In the margin next to Clarke’s suggestion to attack Al Qaeda facilities in the week before January 1, 2000, Berger wrote, ‘no.’ ”
In August of 2000, Mr. Berger was presented with another possible plan for attacking Mr. bin Laden.This time, the plan would be based on aerial surveillance from a “Predator” drone. Reports the commission: “In the memo’s margin,Berger wrote that before considering action, ‘I will want more than verified location: we will need, at least, data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place.’ ”
In other words, according to the commission report, Mr. Berger was presented with plans to take action against the threat of Al Qaeda four separate times — Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999, and August 2000. Each time, Mr. Berger was an obstacle to action.
Recall that the classified document deeds were done late last year.
There are a lot of pundits--professional and otherwise--who are speculating that the publicizing of Mr. Berger's misdeeds was meticulously timed by RNC operatives. Leaving aside biblical gnat-camel aspects of the timing observation (look it up), who would have more to gain by the timing of this revelation?
Were the RNC (and the Bush Administration) responsible for the “leak,” wouldn’t a September-October 2004 timeframe be a better choice than July?
However, since Mr. Berger’s classified document shenanigans were committed late last year, it’s certainly more likely that either he leaked the information of his own accord or was pressed to do so by the DNC. All of these parties had certainly figured out in the last eight or nine months that the 9/11 Commission had beaten Mr. Berger to the punch and gotten ahold of the above information. In order to preempt the Commissions findings, it behooved Mr. Berger--and the DNC--to get the details of the investigation out there before the Commision did. He made it, just barely.
Why didn’t it come out before? Likely because Mr. Berger (and his legal team) may have been gambling that it need never come out: don’t present yourself for public excoriation if you can avoid it, goes the logic. Especially if it will hurt the Party (recall that Mr. Berger recently stepped down as an adviser to the Kerry presidential campaign). If it's true, it's a pretty fine piece of logic, that.
(Thanks to LGF)