America’s system for handling classified documents is broken

Just a month ago, our fellow Palm Beach County taxpayer Donald Trump was a criminal because he had some classified documents in his palazzo. See “‘It worried people all the time’: How Trump’s handling of secret documents led to the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search” (NBC News, 8/13/2022). And “Inside the Justice Department’s decision on whether to charge Trump in Mar-a-Lago case” (NBC News, 11/11/2022):

“If Trump were anyone else, he would have already faced a likely indictment,” said lawyer Bradley Moss, who represents intel agency workers in cases involving classified information.

Today, however, we know that the blame is correctly assigned to the system, not the individual. “America’s system for handling classified documents is broken, say lawmakers and former officials” (NBC News, 1/24/2023):

Far too many documents are classified, and gatekeepers charged with tracking the secret papers are struggling to keep up, experts say.

The U.S. government’s system for labeling and tracking classified documents appears to be broken …

For decades, current and former officials and Congress have warned about the growing problem of labeling too much information secret, or “overclassification.”

Update: this article was highlighted on Twitter by Glenn Greenwald…

one of his followers did the same thing with CNN, then and now:

6 thoughts on “America’s system for handling classified documents is broken

  1. It’s not broken, it is working as intended. American system is modeled after Soviet.

    Anyway… the system is not for preventing leaking of the secrets. Nobody cares if the secret info is leaked ad long as the leak doesn’t get known. The system is for keeping the government drones obedient and for locating a sacrificial goat after security screwups. It doesn’t make any sense otherwise.

  2. Fun fact: the US system of classifying documents originated 1948 when the widow of a military plane crash tried to access documents relating to her husband’s death. The Government claimed the accident report, as well as documents with surviving crew member statements, could not be furnished “without seriously hampering national security”. When the documents were de-classified 50 years later, they contained no secrets but did reveal the cause of the crash was negligent maintenance (aka: the docs were classified to cover someone’s ass, not because of security).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Georgia_USAF_Boeing_B-29_crash

  3. There are over half a million people with a top-secret clearance. You know what they say about three people knowing a secret: it’s only possible when two of them are already dead. Ed Snowden and the Shadow Broker leak clearly demonstrated that even the NSA can’t keep its crown jewels safe.

    Yet the members of the extended Federal government suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. I had a former girlfriend who used to work for the RAND Corporation and was as left-wing as they come. Yer she had no sympathy for Wen-Ho Lee, a man who was hounded by Notra Trulock, a racist investigator abetted by the New York Times. When found innocent, they still nailed for time served with a charge of mishandling classified documents to save face (and avoid paying him compensation), to the point the Federal Jusge in charge the case insisted on personally apologizing to him for his mistreatment on behalf of the Judicial Branch of the United States.

    • Actually, my biggest anxieties are now
      1. Climate change and the world ending because it becomes on average 1.5 degrees warmer ( plus or minus 3.5 degree error bar)
      2. Dying from the Corona virus but not obesity and alcohol over consumption
      3. Trumps re-election and the end of civilization as we know it. And the end of democracy if Trump gets more than 50% of the vote
      4=Racism and the systematic patriarchy, neither of which you can see, but you know they are there…just like the tooth fairy and Santa Clause. These are major worries and will dictate the way many of my white males friends will vote living in our relatively affluent neighborhood. By voting for the virtue signaller, they vote against the guy who is good for the economy and would actually improve the lives of the less affluent, but economy guy is not as cool as virtue signalling woke junkie. I am in Canada.

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