Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Now It's Pence With Classified Files? How Long Before Media Geniuses Figure Out Over-Classification Is The Problem?


"There are nearly five million people right now with security clearance who have access to classified documents.  So many that the national security bureaucracy can't keep track of them or how they handle the files." - Jameel Jaffer, Columbia Univ. executive editor of 'Just Security'. last night on All In

Newsflash! Newsflash!  Here's the latest in the corporo-media's classified documents "scandal": Now former Trump VP Mike Pence's Indiana home has been found to have harbored a set of such.  Holy shit! And right on top of the Biden docs findings! Will wonders never cease?  Or better: Will the corporate media ever get over its classified docs findings obsession?  

Greg Jacob, a designated representative for Pence’s vice-presidential records, said Pence gave permission for the FBI to collect the classified documents from his home Jan. 19 while the former vice president was in Washington to attend the March for Life, the yearly gathering of antiabortion fanatics. Jacob stated he would deliver the boxes in which those documents were found, along with other vice-presidential papers, to the National Archives on Jan. 23.  IN other words, he's fully cooperating like Joe Biden's lawyers and reps did. 

According to Jacob: “On Monday, January 16, following press reports of classified documents at the personal home of President Biden,  Vice President Pence out of an abundance of caution, engaged outside counsel. " They had experience "with handling classified documents, and were charged with reviewing records stored in his personal home."

In a letter dated Jan. 18, Jacob also wrote:

 “Counsel identified a small number of documents that could potentially contain sensitive or classified information interspersed throughout the records.”

He was in the process of notifying Congress on Tuesday, according to spokesman Devin O’Malley, who said no classified documents were found at the offices of Pence’s organization Advancing American Freedom.

Further, Pence had been unaware that the documents were at his home and is “ready and willing to cooperate fully,” Jacob wrote. According to a Jan. 22 letter to the Archives, Jacob said four boxes contained “copies of Administration papers: the two boxes in which a small number of papers appearing to bear classified markings had been found, and two separate boxes containing courtesy copies of Vice Presidential papers.”

Any of this sound familiar? Maybe like a broken record over the past few weeks?  If not, maybe you've been hiding under a rock. This is because this latest discovery of classified files at Pence’s home comes as President Biden has faced criticism over classified documents found at his home in Wilmington, Del., and a separate think tank office. As I noted in a previous post, e.g.

Critical Thinking Debacle: Comparing Biden Files Case To Trump's Intentional Malfeasance & Obstruction

 All this non-newsworthy nonsense began with a "scoop" (sic) by CBS' cub journalist Adriana Diaz who set off a political firestorm by her reporting about classified docs being found at Joe Biden's Delaware  residence and his think tank (Penn-Biden Center).  The idiotic story grew legs in the clueless media had the unfortunate effect of setting off a 24/7 feeding frenzy over nothing.  This is given the retained Biden classified files were clearly mishandled, carelessly left at x, y, z places. By contrast, Trump actively obstructed retrieval by the National Archives and FBI, as well as and lied about their existence and his possession of them. Night and day difference yet the bonehead pundits often conflated the two.

As hysterical or apoplectic some may get, - believing Biden deserves the same scrutiny as Trump - that is bullshit. Plain and simple. The reason is Biden and his lawyers have been totally upfront and cooperated immediately turning the found docs over to the National Archives. Also fully cooperating with the DOJ in its having the FBI search his premises, as well appointing a special counsel (Hur) to investigate.

I expect Pence will cooperate in exactly the same way, but it was delicious - as Chris Hayes noted on ALL In last night - seeing Pence insist (in an earlier ABC interview with David Muir) that 'Oh no!' he'd never have kept any classified stuff. Not like Biden.  Even the fiends at FOX were upset given they couldn't get any mileage out of this one. 

But this brings up the next question, as Chris Hayes posed:  "Will Garland now appoint a THIRD special counsel to investigate Pence's handling of classified files?"  Also, Hayes played a clip of GOP Rep. Don Bacon asking for Garland to appoint a 3rd special counsel.

Are we now entering the ultimate classified docs clown show?  What next? Will similar files be found at Obama's residences, at Bush Jr's, at Bill Clinton's?  Where does it end?  Can the media finally get it through its dense collective skull that accidentally retaining documents or even mishandling is not the issue?

The Columbia University executive editor of 'Just Security' (Jameel Jaffer) featured on ALL In  last night. made it clear a large part of the problem is that we have a "broken classification system".  In his own words, relating the mess to Hayes:  

"The mere fact something is classified doesn't tell you very much, even if it's top secret. All sorts of stuff gets classified at the highest level that shouldn't be classified. Maybe it was at one point, but shouldn't be any more since so much time has passed to be of national security importance.  Or maybe the government found it convenient to classify it or would be embarrassed if it got out. But that has nothing to do with national security."  

Thus, the core problem in all this brouhaha then, is the overclassification of documents. According to Jaffer nearly FIVE million people in the U.S., including government contractors,   now have access to classified documents - and all the way up those labeled Top Secret.  This vast constellation with classified document access means by its nature there are a multiplicity of ways for such files to be misplaced, mishandled or - classified when they shouldn't be.  The outcome is billions of classified files which simply overwhelm what has become a "broken system".   

When Chris Hayes tried to analogize the national security bureaucracy system of keeping classified documents to a typical library system "which tracks the books you took out wherever you are", Jaffer just smiled and made his comment about how the former is totally broken and can't possibly keep up with the documents that now exist.  So it is inevitable  that there will be files mislaid, misplaced, mishandled and he believes that applies fully to the Biden and Pence cases. However in the case of Trump: 

"He retained files that weren't his, lied about it and interfered with the Justice Department getting possession. Even over years."

As I wrote in a WSJ comment yesterday after the Pence files fiasco was published:

As noted in an earlier comment I posted, since the lowering of classified file standards in the 70s there are now literally billions of classified documents and most are not kept track of. In any case it is the  appointed presidential or VP’s aides'; responsibility to monitor document location, disposition.  A president (or VP) t be expected to do that and do his/her job. The media's drip, drip, drips; reporting of found Biden files is ignorant and plain stupid given that even the conservative WSJ (8 days ago) reported they were usually left after a rush owing to a change in administrations “as often occurs".  

So this isn';t news just more media BS.  Until a rigorous QA process is imposed we can expect more incidents like happened to Biden and Pence, but these are still not the same as Trump’s willful malfeasance and obstruction.  False equivalence reporting by much of the media does no one any good, least of all citizens.

I stand by that and hope in the wake of the Pence classified docs finding the media finally pulls its collective head out of its ass and goes on to recognize the issue is the shameful over-classification of files and their access to more than one percent of the U.S. population. If the talking heads and reporters can do that I might take them seriously.  

See Also:

by Ted Rall | January 25, 2023 - 5:58am | permalink


The worst handler of confidential documents? The Supreme Court.


President Biden and his lawyers have taken their lumps about the piecemeal discovery of classified documents at Biden’s residence and former private office. All but the most dishonest MAGA politicians and their media enablers can tell this bears about as much resemblance to the Mar-a-Lago scandal as does the common cold to a massive heart attack. 

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