Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Classified Documents And What Trump Knew

There's really no comparison. For an adversary, the most valuable information is inside the ex-president's head. Not only that, but its value decreases with every day he's away from the White House. All of this hysteria about classified documents at Mar-a-Lago is idiocy.

My first thought when I heard about the raid was that their excuse of classified documents was a lie. The president is the ultimate classifying and declassifying authority. I thought back to Bill Clinton's first days as president. He had brought in a bunch of his cronies from Arkansas and given them top clearances without security reviews. The conservative media was apoplectic. National Review and the Wall Street Journal ran long editorials raving that this was a breach of national security.

My dad, who had worked with both the White House and Congress on Air Force issues, was utterly scornful of these stories. With tired exasperation, he told me, "Do you know how they distribute clearances at the White House? The president points at a guy and says, 'He's cleared.' That's it. That's all it takes. There are no investigations and no processes. The president can clear anyone he wants any time he wants."

The same is true for documents. It has to be that way. Say President Trump was negotiating with President Macron of France. It's all going well and Macron has just shared some deep, French intel. To reciprocate and keep the conversation going, Trump would then offer Macron some top-secret American information. President Trump wouldn't have to excuse himself, leave the room, fill out form 7713/GF and get his OPSEC guy to sign off on it before he could speak. That would be silly. In addition, it would mean that his OPSEC guy could say, "No." That would make the OPSEC guy president.

So the whole classified document thing is utter nonsense. The documents are unclassified as soon as the president says they are. If you think about a trial of Trump for this, there's no way on Earth the DOJ could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it hadn't happened.

It's Not About The Documents

There's a bigger point. As president, Trump was involved in top-secret, strategic planning meetings and received thousands of briefings at the highest security levels. If you were China, you'd want to learn how the US planned to defend Taiwan. If you were Iran, you'd want to know our possible responses to teams of jihadis with SA-7 SAMs taking out airliners leaving ORD and DFW. If you were one of the Russian oligarchs, you'd want to know when Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated were going to ditch the fat, lesbian models and get back to the hot chicks. Also, where are the keys to the liquor cabinet?

Seriously, Trump could have ten thousand "classified" documents and they'd be utterly insignificant compared to what he knew.

Now think about the value of his knowledge. With every day he's out of office, the value of his knowledge declines. 18 months after he's left office, what's between his ears is still insanely valuable, but its price is declining. If you were afraid he was going to go rogue and replace Hunter Biden as America's pressure point and information conduit with the Chinese, the Ukrainians and the Russians, you wouldn't wait 18 months to nab the dude.

It's all lies. Every last bit of it.

What It Means

My father was West Point, class of 1949. I never heard him tell a lie. He may have been a wild man before becoming a cadet, but that place's Code of Honor was burned into his soul. He had classes at Harvard when he got his MBA that did the same thing.

Many of the people who are lying to us now are graduates of the military academies. Practically all of them are Ivy League schweinhund. They are lying to us to the detriment of the nation.

The past may be a foreign country and they may do things differently there, but it's now barely recognizable.

Where I work, we recently had a social media post discussing toxic masculinity. For some reason, the Marines weren't mentioned. We are a long way from the past's foreign soil.


tim eisele said...

The thing is, most of what you are writing here about Trump, would apply equally to Clinton and her slapdash handling of classified emails. The only difference was that she wasn't President and so couldn't declassify documents on a whim, but everything else you could practically just do a name swap. Using the Blogger search bar to see what you said about Clinton's emails in the past, I see that you (justifiably) didn't want to cut her any slack for risking letting classified documents get into the wrong hands, and in fact were pretty vehement about it. So why are you so eager to cut Trump slack for the same thing?

K T Cat said...

Correct on all counts.

I'm not cutting Trump slack at all. If you recall, I didn't vote for him in 2016 because I thought he was a loon. His behavior at the end was abhorrent.

However, the law is the law. I can't see how he can be convicted. Hillary did break the law and could have been convicted. Now that you bring it up, the double standard is even worse than I've been thinking. We didn't go after the real law breaker, but we just raided the house of someone who can't be convicted.

Under it all is my real problem - the DOJ knows all of this and they did it anyway.

I'll go back to what I said before the election. There are more ways of communicating than posting on social media and voting. We're dealing with a crop of Elites who clearly don't understand how anything works and they keep pushing us closer and closer to the brink of ... a new way of communicating.

This is very bad medicine.

K T Cat said...

Addendum: If you didn't want important information to be declassified, and we don't know that it was all that important - then you shouldn't elect a nut as president. Once you do, you have to accept the consequences, even if you didn't vote for him and don't like him. If you don't, if you refuse to follow the law, then it's a signal that all bets are off for all of us. Again, that's very bad medicine.

tim eisele said...

So, I've been wondering what the actual penalty is for taking classified information to an unsecured location (which is what all the fuss is about). It looks like it is under 18 U.S. Code § 1924 - Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material, which reads:

"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."

In practice, I gather this generally translates to "administrative penalties" (getting their clearance revoked, and getting suspended/fired/demoted/reassigned), and if prosecuted a fine, and maybe a year or two of probation for particularly egregious cases. Petraeus had a $100,000 fine and 2 years probation, but he wasn't just "mishandling" classified information, he was actively handing it over to his mistress. Apparently most people who take away classified information get the administrative penalties, but don't actually get prosecuted for it unless they were actively doing it with the intention of giving/selling it to someone else.

So, the actual official penalties available for either Clinton or Trump are limited, since neither any longer has a government job to lose or a clearance to have revoked. And if prosecuted, they would get a fine, maybe probation, but I doubt they'd get jail time. The biggest penalty appears to be in the court of public opinion. This was arguably the final straw that made Hillary lose the election, which I expect she regards as more of a punishment than some rinky-dink fine. Similarly, I expect that Trump will never actually get prosecuted for mishandling documents, and if he did I can't see the fine mattering to him even slightly. So the intent is probably just to make him look as much like Hillary as possible so that he can't win the next election either.

Mostly Nothing said...

It irritates me to no end how politicians (there hasn't been a honest one in a long time - my lifetime?) get Top Secret clearances on a whim as you say. Where twice in my life I have held clearances; back in my San Diego days, and about 10 years ago. The things I had to go through, and what they put through on the people that I put as character references is pretty horrible.

Yet the third rail people, the politicians, get free access. Of course, I didn't even want the clearance. And my clearance 10 years ago was to be able to go into the secure room, and perform administration on the computers in there. In San Diego, I think I got it "just in case".

We really need to stop electing morons.

K T Cat said...

If a normal govvie did what Hillary did, they would have lost their clearance, lost their jobs, possibly lost their pensions and definitely would have gone to jail. That was so over-the-top that to do anything else would be a slap in the face to everyone else.

Which is what it was.