(JTA) — Samuel “Sandy” Berger, who served as President Bill Clinton’s national security adviser, has died.
Berger, a prominent player at the 2000 Camp David summit, died early Wednesday of cancer. He was 70.
Berger, who was Jewish, was the top foreign policy adviser for Clinton during the 1992 campaign, then served as deputy national security adviser during Clinton’s first term. He was named national security adviser in 1997, at the beginning of Clinton’s second term.
At Camp David, Clinton fell short of bringing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to a peace agreement.
After leaving the White House, Berger continued to consult on foreign policy, including for Hillary Clinton, the president’s wife, when she served as secretary of state. Hillary Clinton reportedly consulted with Berger on how to handle Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during her push for a peace agreement.
President Barack Obama recognized Berger’s legacy and said he was personally grateful for his advice and counsel, Politico reported.
“From his service in President Carter’s State Department to President Clinton’s National Security Advisor, Sandy devoted himself to strengthening American leadership in an uncertain world,” Obama said in a statement quoted by Politico. “Today, his legacy can be seen in a peaceful Balkans, our strong alliance with Japan, our deeper relationships with India and China.
“Around the globe, families and children are living healthier, more secure lives because, as a private citizen, Sandy was a humanitarian who helped the world respond to crises and feed the hungry. With his trademark passion, wisdom and good humor, he is remembered fondly within the ranks of the National Security Council, where those he mentored carry on his work.”
The Israel Policy Forum issued a statement that it was “saddened” by Berger’s death. “Sandy was a trusted informal adviser to IPF, and we relied on him in recent years for his sage counsel and informed wisdom,” it said.
Berger pleaded guilty in 2005 to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal of classified material from the National Archives in Washington. He took the five classified reports while preparing to testify before the 9/11 Commission and lied to investigators about removing them. Berger was fined and sentenced to two years probation; he also had his security clearance suspended for three years. Berger, a graduate of Harvard Law School, later voluntarily relinquished his license to practice law.
He was chairman of Stonebridge International, an international advisory firm he co-founded in 2001.
Berger, a New York State native, met Bill Clinton while working on the 1972 Democratic presidential campaign of George McGovern.