Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, who received a bachelor's degree in government from Cornell University in 1967, has been appointed national security adviser by President Bill Clinton. The president announced the appointment Dec. 5, 1996; it does not require Senate approval.
Clinton befriended Berger more than 20 years ago, not long after Berger received his law degree from Harvard University, when both worked on Sen. George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign. In recent years Berger has been a close ally and adviser on foreign policy matters to the president, having served as Clinton's senior foreign policy adviser during the 1992 campaign and as deputy national security adviser to the president throughout his first term.
In his new position Berger will succeed Anthony Lake, whom Clinton has picked to direct the Central Intelligence Agency.
Before joining Clinton's team, Berger, 51, assisted several other presidents and politicians. In the Carter administration, he was deputy director of policy planning for the State Department; other former leaders he has assisted include New York Mayor John Lindsay, Sen. Harold Hughes of Iowa and Rep. Joseph Resnick of New York.
In 1973 Berger joined the Washington law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where for many years he was an international trade attorney whose clients included foreign governments, like Japan and Poland, foreign steel producers and even Poland's Solidarity trade union.
As a Cornell undergraduate, Berger was an active member of the campus community, serving as president of the Interfraternity Council, as an orientation counselor and as a member of two honor societies, Quill and Dagger and Aleph Samach. Berger's wife, Susan Harrison Berger, is also a Cornell graduate (class of '68).
Cornell alumnus and attorney Mark Belnick '68, who knew Berger as a fellow government major, recalls, "Our universe in those years was bounded by Cornell. And within that universe, Sandy was one of the most active in student affairs. It's no surprise to anyone who knew him at Cornell that he would be as successful as he has, justifiably, become."
Walter LaFeber, a longtime Cornell professor of American history who has kept in touch with Berger, said, "There are two types of National Security Council advisers, in my view. One type is the Kissinger, Bundy -- type, who keep getting us into trouble. Then there's the other type, like Scowcroft and Cutler; these people see their role as acting as an honest broker and presenting all views to the president.
"I think Sandy Berger is the second type. He'll be honest and sensible."