April 1, 2005: Sandy Berger pleads guilty to the unlawful removal and retention of national security information.

National Security Advisor Sandy Berger (Credit: Washington Life Magazine)

National Security Advisor Sandy Berger (Credit: Washington Life Magazine)

Former National Security Advisor Berger was caught trying to smuggle classified documents out of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016Berger took five copies of a memorandum called the “Millennium Alert After Action Report” and later destroyed three of them. (Real Clear Politics, 1/15/2007(The Washington Post, 4/1/2005)

May 27, 2016: US Naval Machinist Kristian Saucier pleads guilty for taking photos inside the attack submarine he had been working on.

Kristian Saucier (Credit: public domain)

Kristian Saucier (Credit: public domain)

He was arrested in May 2015 on charges that he took some pictures that included classified engineering spaces in the backgrounds. It does not appear he attempted to share the photos with anyone, but he threw a cell phone into a dumpster that contained the phone, and someone else found it and reported it. He pled guilty to one felony count of unlawful retention of national defense information. This is part of the Espionage Act, even though he has never been accused of espionage. Sentencing guidelines suggest he could get five to six years in prison.

Politico reports that some are comparing Saucier’s case to Clinton’s email scandal, and suggesting that the less powerful like Saucier face stiffer punishments. The photos he took have been deemed “confidential,” the lowest classification ranking, while Clinton had some emails on her unapproved private server at the higher rankings of “secret” and “top secret.” Edward MacMahon, a Virginia defense attorney not involved in the Saucier case, says: “Felony charges appear to be reserved for people of the lowest ranks. Everyone else who does it either doesn’t get charged or gets charged with a misdemeanor.” (The Navy Times, 8/1/2015) (Politico, 5/27/2016)