Something's missing in the Mar-a-Lago coverage
I am someone who has held a TS/SCI (Top Secret — Special Comparted Information) security clearance. Moreover, I have had a facility clearance for my home so that I could handle classified information there. Having had that experience, I get more than a little annoyed at the speculative misinformation that all parties in the Mar-a-Lago affair are spreading around. Granted, my security experience was before my retirement a decade ago, but I doubt much has changed since then.
I make three points. The first is that the Justice Department is blowing smoke. They are either completely incompetent or deliberately abusing their authority by lying to the court. The second point is that the investigative media (including Fox News) have not done their homework and have not found out how the security system actually works. The third point illustrates the first. In no legal sense is Donald Trump guilty of anything. This is because, as a former president, he has both a TS/SCI personal clearance and the same level of facility clearances for his various locations.
To complete the circle, the first two points follow from the third: the Justice Department has charged Donald Trump with violating security regulations by having inappropriate classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Well, as president, Trump's home, and probably everywhere he may reside or work, automatically has a TS/SCI facility clearance. And so his home is appropriate for the safekeeping of classified documents.
I note that Mar-a-Lago is under 24/7 protection by the Secret Service. This automatically meets the requirements for the safety of a very high-level facility clearance. Moreover, an extra degree of protection was installed, at the government's request, when a lock was put on the door where the documents were stored. The government cannot then legitimately claim that those documents were improperly secured.
In addition, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, high-level security clearances remain in effect for at least three years after employment. Donald Trump has been unemployed by the government for only a year and a half.
Then there is the question of whether the documents in question were even classified. Donald Trump, while he was still president, is said to have bulk-declassified the papers that were to be taken to Mar-a-Lago. Furthermore, Donald Trump did not personally supervise the transport of documents to Mar-a-Lago, and therefore he cannot be held responsible for their detailed contents.
What is interesting here is that Trump had specifically ordered the declassification of all materials related to the FBI's involvement in Russiagate and related matters. But it seems this declassification was not carried out. In other words, the involved people in the Justice Department apparently refused a direct presidential order. I suspect that this is really behind what is going on. I suspect that the FBI and the Justice Department are trying to cover their tracks. Be prepared for a substantial number of documents to turn up missing.
Well, this is just my opinion based on my past experience. But I do wish that journalists, and supposedly expert attorneys — commentator attorneys and Trump's attorneys both — would do their homework and find out just how the security system actually works. And then please let us all (including the judge) know. We might, as a result, have a very different picture of what is really going on.
Image via Flickr, public domain.