Mitigating circumstances are NOT "unofficial factors that determine how the case is handled," but rather official factors that come into play AT SENTENCING.[/] We're basically saying the same thing here. Although I would still question your use of "offical." They're not, but rather an undefined set of circumstances that influence the outcome. That's where the disconnect between us lies, Mr. 44. You keep bringing up "dirty politics" as if its some sort of defense, and its not. As with Berger, it might merely lower the severety of the sentence, or perhaps it might not. But that's where you're wrong. Berger did use "dirty politics" as a defense, and it influenced the final outcome of his case. No, it's not legally accepted, like an affirmation of self defense, but Berger plead guilty, so there is no ambiguity, it's a matter of public record. I keep saying for you to remove the fact that Berger served under Clinton from the equation, it doesn't matter. It certainly doesn't make Berger some sort of superhuman demigod, but let's focus on Berger's own actions as a basic comparison to this topic. good ol Wiki (look under "criminal investigation," although there are also numerous articles about the case as well.) Sure, he didn't come out and say "It's dirty poltics as usual, your honor.." But Berger's claim revolved around the fact that he was not stealing the documents for personal gain, or to hurt the US, but to help Kerry's election campaign. He removed 50(and I didn't realize it was that many) classified documents (which all focused on the US's anti-terrorism strategy) from a secure room, and your attitude is one of "what's the big deal?" Now, regarding Plame, you've used the term "treason" at least twice in this thread. It may not be exactly "calling for someone's head," but it's in the same ballpark, sitting in the dugout.