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It was reported on April 2 that Sandy Berger, a Clinton White House national security adviser, finally pleaded guilty to intentionally removing and destroying classified documents from the National Archives. He was accused last October, but claimed he "inadvertently" walked off with the documents. Part of the plea deal is that his security clearance has been suspended for three years. This reads like a joke, but these are the facts. He admits stealing classified documents and will get another opportunity in three years.

In the 1960s, I was an active-duty officer in the U.S. Army, handling classified documents almost daily for two years. I can assure you that any slipup or failure to follow procedures in handling classified documents would result in far more than a slap on the wrist. Deliberately stealing a classified document would certainly have resulted in a court-martial and imprisonment.

If one of our GIs pulled something like this today, he would be publicly crucified. As for Berger's case, I guess times have changed.

Ray Caputo

Orchard Park