It goes without saying the utmost diligence should be made by our top leaders regarding the safeguarding of documents with top secret clearances. The need to be demanding of this bottom line has nothing to do with politics or the latest partisan zeal of the moment. It has everything to do with national security, which might range from military information to human resources doing government work undercover in a nation far from our shores. Joe Biden, in his role as vice president to President Obama, had every reason to be as strict with such documents on his watch as his admonitions were to Donald Trump over such documents found at the Mar-a-Lago resort. When it comes to the documents themselves there is no wiggle room for treating them with the sensitivity they deserve based on their classification.
While I understand the long-simmering argument that some advocate for a more transparent governing process where everything that might be a shade embarrassing or nuanced with partisan possibilities should not be marked with limitations from the general public to view, (and such arguments I have often times found myself in agreement with), the matters of which make for document headlines between Trump and Biden do not fall within that grouping. I am quite certain the documents in question do not deal with agricultural output from China or electrical power possibilities in Afghanistan. One has to strongly suspect the papers found in the homes of Trump and Biden were related to matters of national importance.
We know from reports, thus far, that less than 25 documents were found in locations used by Biden. More than 300 documents were located in the possession of Trump after three separate retrievals, including the search of Mar-a-Lago. We also know from reporting that one of those documents deals with a foreign country’s military defenses and nuclear capabilities. Other news sources have alerted the country that other documents found in Florida dealt with Iran and China and were of a highly sensitive nature. I am certain that with some broad titling, we will also become aware of the contents of documents found at Biden’s Washington office and his home.
The significant difference in these cases is a legal one. Not as sexy for the partisans when stacked against their opponent, but the only one that matters when it comes to the investigations underway by the Justice Department. Federal law prohibits knowing such classified documents have been improperly removed and failing “to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer.” We know that lawyers for Biden reported the discovery of documents in the D.C. office at once, as well as the personal home of the President, and turned them over to the proper authorities.
I well understand that in the toxic brew of national politics, the facts and vast distinctions between Trump and Biden in relation to the classified documents will be meshed to make it seem they are one and the same. But of course, they are not. Trump refused to hand over documents identified as missing and demanded by the National Archives and Records Administration, which then necessitated the FBI, with a search warrant, to undertake their mission where top secret material was located. Meanwhile, Biden did not conceal documents or stand in defiance of requests to give them back to the government. For partisans, the legal aspect will lack the spark they need to gin up the base of their followers. For the rest of us, we deal with whether someone deliberately held onto classified documents and refused to cooperate with authorities, as opposed to voluntarily returning them. The same ground the DOJ stands on when readying their reports.
Finally, James made a comment in our home a few days ago as we bantered about this news story. Amazon can track millions and millions of widgets and packages, both large and small, and alert people to where they are in the purchasing and delivery process. Certainly, the federal government can have a coding process for the classified documents it maintains and knows who has what and where it should be. Given the abilities of young people to navigate with modern technology, I suspect one of them could devise such a computer program by the end of the fourth period.