how the fuck are classified documents ending up all the fuck over the place?
misplacing classified docs is frighteningly easier than you'd think
so now Mike Pence has his own classified document issue and it raises the question: how the fuck are classified documents ending up all the fuck over the place? and how can Mike Pence and Joe Biden claim they didn’t know they had them?
what in the actual fuck is going on?
evidently, this happens more often than we might imagine.
for a really good explanation, let’s turn to Andrew McCabe, a former Deputy Director and Acting Director of the FBI, speaking on his and Alison Gill’s excellent Jack podcast. this is from the January 15 episode, about 4 minutes in. (by the way, you need to be a regular listener to the Jack podcast. it’s a deep dive into Jack Smith’s investigations. new episodes drop every Sunday.)
(transcription is mine, so all of the transcription mistakes are mine as well.)
first, an explanation of the different types of classified material. bear with me, as it’s wonky as fuck, but I love wonky:
… so, SCI is a designation given to some top-secret information and it basically says that if something is SCI it must be maintained in a SCIF, or a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility. so when I was working in counter-terrorism in the FBI, my office was a SCIF, so we could have TS SCI material wherever we were working. but it had to stay there; it couldn’t leave the vault, as they call it, unless you have authorization to transport it essentially to another SCIF.
and then beyond SCI information, there’s something called Code Word Protected Information.
so the easiest way to understand this, is the most-sensitive programs that the federal government, the intelligence community is involved in are protected by code words. so any kind of writings or talking about that stuff is covered by a protective code word, and you have to be on a very small list of people that have access to what they call ‘the cabinet’ that contains that code word material.
of all these different types of material, the only one that’s actually serialized and tracked is code word protected information. [emphasis mine]
that stuff, when it comes to your office, usually in the hands of one of your agency’s security officers. they make you sign for it before they let you look at it. you can look at it, and you typically have to give it right back, even if you’re working in a SCIF. that stuff is taken and stored by security officers in a special place.
and there’s a list of all the people who are exposed to that particular code word information at any time.
ok then. sounds pretty secure. so how do docs end up in Joe Biden’s garage or Mike Pence’s house? McCabe continues:
none of the rest of that stuff, beneath code word, is actually serialized and tracked. now I know that seems crazy and irresponsible, but essentially there are extensive rules at each level of classification about how you’re allowed to transport and store and work with that information.
now, how does this relate to a president, or a vice president, or a director of the FBI? Andrew speaks from personal experience here:
when you are at that level, you basically have a need to be able to access classified and TS SCI, all this stuff, all the time, 24 hours a day, when you’re at work, when you’re at home, even when you travel overseas. and the way that is done, is specialized security people on your staff, it is their sole responsibility to take that stuff, transport it, carry it, store it, protect it, and give it to you when you need it.
… so it is not hard for me to understand how a person like a Vice President of the United States, who certainly has a need to have access to that sort of material all the time, and staffers are constantly carrying it around, and giving it to him to get ready for the next briefing, or phone call with a world leader, or something like that. it’s following him where he goes, to hotels, to his residence, his office, that sort of thing. and it’s also not hard to see how occasionally, in this flow of hundreds, certainly thousands of pages of documents, that every once in a while, one of them gets put in the wrong folder that doesn’t have the right markings on it and can be left behind or misplaced or left in the residence or something like that.
and that is how Joe Biden or Mike Pence can plausibly deny knowing they were in possession of classified documents.
but what about Donald Trump, I hear you asking. can’t Trump claim plausible deniability here, just like Biden and Pence? yes, he could have, except that Donald Trump, is his very special Donald Trump way, fucked himself by having documents in his desk drawer, mixed in with other personal items, showing that by handling the docs, he knew he had them.
also there’s the obstruction of justice part, which in itself is crimey as fuck.
so in summation, tl;dr: Donald Trump committed crimes. Joe Biden and Mike Pence did not. party at my house when the indictments come down!
everyone is entitled to my own opinion is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.