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LETTER: The classified documents scandals

Updated January 19, 2023 - 4:40 pm

Some years ago, I worked at “think-tank” that focused entirely on national defense issues and had a very close relationship with the Department of Defense. In the course of our analyses, we had access to, and produced, documents that were highly classified. Every member of the staff had a Top Secret clearance and signed a document promising to safeguard classified information. The document also spelled out penalties for failing to do so, penalties ranging from reprimand to firing, and in the worst cases, the possibility of a fine and even jail time.

Every classified document that was brought into our building was logged in by the security staff before it was checked out to the staff member for whom it was intended. Documents retained in our own office were stored in a special file/safe with a combination lock. At any given moment, the security staff could say who had which documents in their possession. When I left the organization, I had to account for, and turn in, every document logged out in my name.

With regard to the present situation involving Donald Trump and Joe Biden, I do not understand how classified documents could be taken out of the White House and either “forgotten” or allowed to be deliberately taken away. Isn’t there an office in the executive complex that keeps track of classified documents and their location? I have no problem at all with a close inspection of these two current situations by the Department of Justice or special counsels, but I think the examination should absolutely include an analysis of the White House’s system for logging and tracking documents whose exposure could undermine the security of the country.

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