Sandy Berger Pays Tribute to Warren Rudman at Memorial Service at the U.S. Senate

ASG co-chair, Sandy Berger, delivered the following tribute at a memorial service for Senator Warren Rudman at the U.S. Senate. In addition to Berger, several former Senate colleagues and government officials also spoke, including Vice President Joe Biden.

To watch Sandy Berger’s tribute, please click here.

Remarks of Samuel R. Berger as Prepared for Delivery

Memorial Service for Former Senator Warren Rudman

November 29, 2012

Warren didn’t stop being Warren when he left the Senate in 1993.  He brought the same qualities to the private sector – and to the public missions he was frequently called upon to undertake. Unrelenting. Caring. Fairminded. Impatient with phoniness. Sometimes cantankerous. Always honest.

I first worked with Warren in connection with his service as Chairman of President Clinton’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. I watched him investigate some incredibly delicate and politically sensitive matters. President Clinton trusted Warren without question to dig to the bottom and give him advice free of any personal agenda or hint of partisanship.

Later, as Co-chairmen of the Commission on National Security with Senator Hart, he examined the state of our homeland defense. He concluded it was terrible. Nine months before 9/11, he recommended the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security. It was not that he had some magic mirror to look around the corner of time; he looked hard at the facts and was not afraid to draw the necessary – if sometimes lonely – conclusions.

Warren always looked hard at the facts. Like any great lawyer, that was his starting point. He was impatient with ideology; with those who knew the answer before knew what they were talking about. He wanted the evidence; then he would draw his conclusions and chart his course. It is an approach that we would all do well to embrace today.

As a lawyer, Warren was a champion of good corporate governance. He became the “go to” person for companies who needed someone of impeccable integrity to get to the bottom of some corporate mess – to figure out what really happened and what need to be done to make it right. He brought the same doggedness to these investigations as he did to his work on Iran-Contra and the Keating Five. And the remarkable thing is that, regardless of how tough his report was, no one ever questioned its validity. His reputation for integrity was so strong that his conclusions were accepted like the holy grail.

Warren collaborated in founding our firm and served on its Board from inception until he joined us as Co-Chair. He was a large presence in our office. When we faced hard decisions, he saw through the fog and got to the heart of the matter. He was a model and mentor to many. He would sometimes wander into the office of a junior person to chat, tell some stories, listen to them, find out what they were doing and give them some advice. One of our younger colleagues commented the other day that “quality time with Senator Rudman sometimes left you breathless.”

Warren dealt with his illness like everything else in his life – with ruthless honesty and unbounded courage. He was not a passive recipient of his care and treatment – he was co-pilot. He started with the facts. He learned everything there was to know about it. He found the best experts. And then he plowed ahead with fierce determination. He checked in with Tony Harrington and me most mornings to give us an update. He had no illusions. But he intended to move forward, not lie down.

Everyone in the firm was proud of him. His presence enhanced us. His wisdom guided us. His integrity inspired us. His memory will always lift us up.