National Archives Proposes Wider Checks of People Using Its Facilities

September 28, 2006

Researchers and all other visitors at facilities run by the National Archives and Records Administration would be subject to close inspections of their personal property under regulations proposed today in the Federal Register. The proposal, for which the agency seeks public comment by November 27, would broaden the scope of people subject to searches and would expand the number of National Archives facilities where the searches would be conducted.

Any chance this tough new policy would be connected with the strange case of Samuel R. (Sandy) Berger? Mr. Berger, the national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, admitted removing classified documents from the National Archives in 2003 and purposely destroying some of them. In a plea deal in 2005 with federal prosecutors, Mr. Berger was fined $50,000, put on probation, and sentenced to perform community service. The episode also demonstrated that some people, at least, could just walk out of the National Archives with its holdings.