Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Scales of Justice

I'm not a lawyer, so someone please explain this one to me.

Remember the teenager who hacked into Paris Hilton's cell phone? He has reportedly been sentenced to 11 months in a juvenile facilityl.

Meanwhile, former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, caught removing classified documents from the National Archive, got a slap on the wrist last week--a $50,000 fine, 100 hours of community service, and he loses access to classified materials for three years. It's worth noting that the Bush Justice Department originally proposed only a $10,000 fine for Berger; however, the federal judge who accepted Berger's gility plea raised the fine, saying the proposed fine didn't reflect the seriousness of the offense.

Having held a security clearance for more than two decades, I can assure you that Mr. Berger got off easily. I've seen more than a few military careers end over security violations. If a military member attempted Beger's stunt, he or she would now be a long-term guest of the government, at Fort Leavenworth.

But the normal rules don't apply to a guy like Sandy Berger. In fact, he's undergone something of a rehabilitation in recent months, while awaiting sentencing on the security breach. Not long ago, Berger was at the White House, as a guest of President Bush, publicly endorsing the CAFTA agreement.

Paraphrasing F. Scott Fitzgerald, the rich (and powerful) are different from you and me.

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