WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Thursday ordered former national security adviser Sandy Berger to pay a $50,000 fine and give up his security clearance for three years as the penalty for smuggling classified terrorism documents out of the National Archives in 2003.
The sentence was much more severe than the $10,000 fine that Justice Department prosecutors and Berger’s attorneys had jointly proposed after Berger pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. But Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson said the punishment would more “sufficiently reflect the seriousness of the offense.”
Berger, who had classified documents delivered to his desk when he advised President Bill Clinton, pleaded guilty in April to unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents. He admitted to stuffing copies of documents in his coat jacket as he left the National Archives and then destroying some at his office and pretending he had never possessed them. Berger had been reviewing the records about the Clinton administration’s response to reports of terrorist threats in 2000 as he was preparing to respond to questions from the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
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