There is misinformation by the media in explaining what mishandling classified information is all about. Confusion reigns in the mind of the public.
Most of my career I held positions that required a TS/SCI clearance. Let’s start with the three basic security clearances. There is Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. The only clearance that branches out is Top Secret (TS). If the position calls for it, the letters SCI becomes part of your clearance. Secret Compartmentalized Intelligence (SCI). What does this mean? It simple means you have a clearance that allows you to be read onto certain programs, operations, or functions in the US Government that are highly classified with a risk of national security being exposed. The particular program, function or operation typically has a code word identifying the intelligence. I will not get into additional code words. Such documents are maintained in a Secret Compartmental Intelligence Facility, known simply as a SCIF. The documents stay in the SCIF for reading, updating or use as needed by those entrusted with whatever on-going operation is being carried out. These documents can be transported by select individual from one facility to another under strict protocols, such as the White House.
Within the Government certain high-ranking individuals have the authority to classify certain information they deem is highly sensitive. To declassify a document, it takes a very involved procedure by several individuals. The only person in the Government that can declassify any classified document like TS/SCI based on their say so, is the President of the United States. Sometimes a log is in place to identify which documents are declassified. The President can simply say, “The information in a document is no longer considered sensitive or a national security threat and the information is declassified.” No one else can do that.
The everyday government employees that have access to this information are extraordinary paranoid about making sure these documents are well protected because if you mishandle such information physically or verbally, you are looking at a major legal complication for yourself and possible incarceration, hence being paranoid.
All Government offices have cabinets specifically designed to hold classified documents of any level that meet GSA standards and are locked away every day, including cabinets in a SCIF. If a person removes or otherwise exposes the TS/SCI information to anyone not cleared to hear it or have possession of it, they have Mishandled Classified Information in violation of United States Criminal Code 1924.
Now let’s look at President Biden and former President Trump. What is the difference? Immediately, one can see who has the authority to declassify, President Trump, not Vice President Biden.
The media keeps spinning that it depends on what is in the documents which will be in violation of the code. Not so fast. In reading 18 USC 1924, it does not say the violation pertains to only TS/SCI. It clearly states, “Any classified information.” This would encompass Confidential, Secret, Top Secret or Top Secret/SCI. If Vice President Biden does not have the authority to declassify any of these documents, he is responsible to keep the information safe from exposure. Did he, I think not? Putting such documents in your house, or garage or any other unauthorized facility that is not cleared to maintain such classified documents, one will have violated the code.
On the other hand, President Trump has asserted that all the documents in his possession were declassified, therefore, not a threat to national security, regardless of the information in such documents. The media is trying desperately to focus everyone’s attention of the contents of such documents, and that President Trump had more TS/SCI documents then Vice President Biden, hogwash!
Page 456TITLE 18—CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE§ 1951
§ 1924. Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material (a) Whoever, being an officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract, becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both. (b) For purposes of this section, the provision of documents and materials to the Congress shall not constitute an offense under subsection (a). (c) In this section, the term ‘‘classified information of the United States’’ means information originated, owned, or possessed by the United States Government concerning the national defense or foreign relations of the United States that has been determined pursuant to law or Executive order to require protection against unauthorized disclosure in the interests of national security.
(Added Pub. L. 103–359, title VIII, § 808(a), Oct. 14, 1994, 108 Stat. 3453; amended Pub. L. 107–273, div. B, title IV, § 4002(d)(1)(C)(i), Nov. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 1809; Pub. L. 115–118, title II, § 202, Jan. 19, 2018, 132 Stat. 19.) Editorial No
As some of you know, I was a polygraph examiner most of my career. One of the questions on the examination I routinely administered was, “Did you ever mishandle any classified information?” The people seeking employment coming from the private sector with no exposure to classified information breezed right through the question. However, applicants seeking a job and held security clearances took the question very seriously. I have had applicants seeking a position that are or were government employees with a clearance stop the test and walk out of the room so they would not have to answer the question. Paranoid! As they should be. It is a serious matter. This is why President Biden stated “Oh expletive” when he was told about classified documents at his Delaware home and other buildings within his control. In fact, during his tenor as Vice President, he mishandled classified information by publicly exposing which military organization carried out the raid in killing Usma Bin Laden. That information was TS/SCI. The information exposure put every operator and their families in jeopardy. The media passed it over and Biden got away with letting everyone know he was in the know about the raid. How irresponsible. The media gave him a pass. Biden does not take protecting classified information seriously as he stated.
The media fails extensively in fact checking their own stories, or news items, daily. They try to protect the Biden administration by withholding key facts. The media can not be trusted. In discussions with a good friend, Ron, he presented this well thought out opinion and with permission I shall share.
“Tragedies of A Biased Media
Mark Twain reportedly said if you put 100 black ants and 100 red ants in a jar, nothing would happen. But if you then shook the jar, the two groups would start killing each other. I can easily see a parallel in today’s society. I have never seen this country so polarized on so many issues.
So, who is shaking the jar?
To me it is obvious. While there are several levels to this, one example being the changing mores in our society due to our increasing secularity, the media clearly stands out as being the shakers.
We no longer have objectivity in our conveyance of information today. First, most of what we are exposed to daily is politically oriented news. Furthermore, objectivity is out, and opinions and agendas are in. Deciding what to include and what to omit in the conveyance is paramount. Lay down a few facts and cover this with lots of opinions driven by an agenda and that is much of what constitutes news today. Collusion by corporate media with the same agenda is common. Routinely, different media with the same agenda will lead with the same story and the same spin, the result of earlier consensus on what the biased media focus should be for the day. Social media further exacerbates the problem.
What we are left with is an ignorant consumer, who then votes with total lack of understanding. It would appear the corporate media decided long ago that the consuming public was too ignorant to be able to interpret and understand objective news, so they had to editorialize on the news to further our understanding. Once that happened, it was natural to choose sides in an issue. Once a side was chosen, corporate media “cherry picked” events it would report on, selecting those supporting their agenda and omitting coverage of those events that distracted from the agenda. The natural evolution of editorialized news was consumers politically aligned with the media’s agenda and became loyal listeners, rejecting media outlets with opposing viewpoints. Seeing an opportunity, other media outlets polarized themselves in order to pick up disenchanted listeners and, as a result, we have our totally polarized, useless and propagandized media.
So where is the tragedy? Truth in our society has been devalued and rejected. Our society hears so much crap today we neither know what nor whom to believe. The average voting citizen is so ignorant of the truth today they cannot vote intelligently so they vote emotionally. The result is that we vote for candidates and on issues that are frequently not in our best interest, personally or nationally. Voter’s lack of understanding result in leaders who weaken our country and devalue what we stand for as a nation because our leaders are unable to solve the country’s problems and effectively address issues. We vote for a party because the political issues presented to us by media are too confusing to understand from the information presented to us and voting “party” is the lazy, easy way out. We vote party because the lies about the candidates are so prevalent that we cannot hope to evaluate the character nor values of the participants. Politics at all levels is so obscure that the voter has lost all control over the process. Garbage in, garbage out.
Without an objective media, journalism no longer holds politicians accountable for their votes, their lack of success in addressing problems, their lack of ethics, their transgressions, and bribes. These transgressions likely run the full spectrum in the power rich and privileged environment enjoyed by leadership. If you can imagine it, politicians have likely got away with it because of a two-tiered judicial standard and lack of objective reporting of these events to the public.
Another casualty of the polarization of media is the dissolution of personal friendships due to political differences. With the prevalence of dishonest political reporting and the emotionalism involved today, many of us no longer associate with friends we have known for years. In discussions with a 30-year friend of the mine who values opposing political views, I realized we could not have a meaningful discussion because his source of “facts” gleaned from his news supplier had nothing in common with my supplier. Examples he used to support his thoughts were unknown to me as my supplier never reported that information and I suspect he experienced the same frustration. I knew his comments mirrored what he had heard from his media. While we trade Christmas cards, we no longer associate. Clearly a casualty of biased media. When politics consumed less of our lives, we got along well and enjoyed each other’s company. Politics was rarely discussed or valued. But political news is everywhere today. Today, we often steer away from folks politically invested and opposed to our views, leaving association and political dialogue only with those holding similar views and values.
Biased media has polarized our country, dumbed down our voters, marginalized our leadership in the eyes of the public, devalued truth in our society, weakened our voting processes, and corrupted our leadership. We, as a country, deserve so much more.” Ron Brown