- August 8, 2022, the date of the FBI’s execution of the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, much of the Western world has been in a gurgling frenzy over Donald Trump’s cavalier (at a minimum) or treasonous (at a maximum) handling of classified documents.
- “Hang Him!” was a not uncommon demand promulgated on social media.
- I admit I may have murmured similar statements over the past five months myself. Maybe not hanging; but flogging, certainly.
- In 1981 when Congressman Dan Quayle became Senator Dan Quayle, I was his press secretary. These were the days when the entire comms department for a U.S. Senator was … the press secretary.
- One of his committee assignments was Armed Services. As we had a skeleton staff and as I was the only skeleton with military experience (my storied six-year career as a member of the New Jersey and Ohio Army National Guard) I was appointed his staffer on Armed Services in addition to my duties doing the Indianapolis Star crossword puzzle – in ink – every afternoon.
- To fill that position I needed security clearances from both the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. This was my first (although certainly not my last) exposure to that kind of scrutiny..
- The DoD investigation was done by DoD investigators. The DoE background checks were done by the FBI.
- I pictured teams of agents following one another around the country to every place I’d ever lived looking for disqualifying information.
- At one point, I called relatives to tell them to expect guys with guns to knock on their doors asking questions about me but assured them I was not a fugitive from justice.
- I got up to the “guys with guns knocking” part when one relative dropped the phone and the next sound I heard was the frantic flushing of a toilet.
- I qualified for a top-secret clearance from DoD and a Q clearance from Energy.
- According to Wikipedia:
- “Q Clearance is the U.S. Department of Energy security clearance required to access Top Secret Restricted Data and National Security Information [which is] defined in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and covers nuclear weapons and related materials.”
- A team of men showed up one day in our Senate office to install a safe behind the desk of the Senator’s executive assistant. Quayle probably had the combination. His assistant absolutely did. I did not.
- However, I was called to a series of briefings to discuss the approved handling of the kinds of materials that would be kept in that safe, up to and including how to transport them from that safe to the site of restricted hearings in the secret room in the Capitol.
- I don’t remember, now, how I was told to do that, but I’m pretty sure it did not include tossing them in the back seat of my car, taking them home, and shoving them in a closet.
- Apparently, Senator, then Vice-President, then Private Citizen Joe Biden did not receive those briefings and ended up with classified materials both in the office he used after being VP but before becoming POTUS, and in his home.
- Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to look into the matter. Via the Washington Post:
- The new investigation will examine whether “any person or entity violated the law in connection with this matter,” said Garland, who expressed confidence [the special counsel] will tackle the assignment “in an even-handed and urgent manner.”
- Biden apologists assure us that innocently taking classified documents out of their safety zone is not a criminal offense as opposed to guiltily taking classified documents out of their safety zone as Trump did.
- According to the National Archives:
- “Residences are not considered official premises, and you must not remove classified material for reasons of personal convenience or keep it overnight in personal custody.”
- I think “overnight” is included in “several years.”
- Either Biden knew and ignored the rules, or – and this is even more frightening – he didn’t know or didn’t understand the rules.
- All over the country, there are people who had/have access to classified documents who are desperately rifling through their home office desks, cardboard boxes in the garage, and through the trunks of their cars looking for exactly those types of materials.
- I wonder what they’ll do if they find some.
- Maybe you’re one of them.
- See you next week.