Monday, December 11, 2006

Did the Spying on Diana Play Any Role in Sandy Berger's Raid on the National Archives?

As reported in The Guardian, per a report overseen by Lord Stevens that was just made public, Scotland Yard has concluded that the Clinton Administration was spying on Princess Diana, having taped her calls at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France, on the very evening she was killed in a car crash.

That was on August 31, 1997, the crash having occurred in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel located within the city. She was traveling in a Mercedes-Benz being driven at a high rate of speed by Frenchman, Henri Paul, and was in the company of her Saudi lover, Dodi Al-Fayed. The report developed evidence that the Princess and Fayed were indeed likely to become engaged, as some have speculated.

The crash occurred when the vehicle hit the "13th" pillar in the tunnel. A fourth passenger in the vehicle, Fayed's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, was riding shotgun. And, though injured -- he reportedly was closest to the point of impact -- he was the only survivor of the crash.

One new detail in the Stevens report is that Henri Paul was a French agent of some sort, though there is no suggestion that that had any connection to the crash. Stevens report concurred with prior conclusions that Paul was indeed quite drunk. From the Guardian:

The driver of the Mercedes, Henri Paul, was in the pay of the French equivalent of M15. Stevens traced £100,000 he had amassed in 14 French bank accounts though no payments have been linked to Diana's death.
Back in August, the French government concluded that they should take another look at the whole matter (via Wikipedia, above). No word on when that will surface.

But back to the spying. Let's set aside for the moment as highly unlikely the possibility that this was the only time we ever spied on her, or listened in on her conversations. And I say that only because it is so improbable that the night she was killed was the only time, not because I think spying on her made so much sense. Naturally, then the "why" of this story is something that will continue to spawn conspiracy stories, and bits and pieces of it will come out over time. One can imagine the pressure to get the inside scoop in virtually every newspaper in the world, coupled with a desire on the part of several governments to staunch the wound to their various public images. We can only guess right now at what will come out.

But here's a thought . . . a possibility. Just a possibility. Was any information regarding the taping of Diana regarding this escapade what Sandy Berger went in and yanked out of the National Archives and stuffed in his pants and socks during the run-up to his 9/11 Commission testimony, or, was it at least a portion of what he took from the records?

Its public "disclosure" at the time of the 9/11 inquiry would have frankly subjected the Clinton Administration to utter ridicule.

You can imagine the accusations: Osama bin Laden was plotting to take a second shot at knocking down the Twin Towers, destroy the Pentagon, and fly a third plane into either the Capitol Building, or the White House, and the Clinton folks missed all of that, but they did succeed in taping the likely salacious phone conversations of the Princess of Wales and her Saudi lover on the night he and she died whilst fleeing the annoying flash bulbs of the paparazzi!

The fact is that it would have potentially also soured our relationship with the British at a time when even the Bush Administration could have concluded we could ill-afford it coming out. So, Sandy's deal with the prosecutors could have included everyone buttoning up on that part of the "theft."

Reports over time have indicated that some documents -- mostly focusing on drafts of an "after-action review" regarding the so-called Millenium plot issued in January of 2000 -- remain missing, but also that certain "basic facts of the controversy" also remain unexplained. Berger was ultimately fined $50,000.00 and given community service for the theft.

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