classified? what classified?
February 1, 2023 | View PDF
Before I get into my Robservation, I just wanted to say that I just celebrated the 42nd Anniversary of my 20th birthday!! Yay, for me. But what I wanted to say was that my wife asked me what I wanted and I told her about this jewelry I saw on the internet. It is made by Tanaor in Israel and what makes this jewelry so unique is that contained within a tiny box on the piece, in my case a leather bracelet, there is a disk that has the entire KJV Bible engraved on it. I am not talking about a digital copy but due to a new “Nano-technology,” they are able to actually engrave all 3.5 million characters on this tiny disk. I found that to be pretty amazing. If you go to their website: tanaorjewelry.com, you can see their products. And no, I do not get any favors from them. I am just a happy customer. If you ask if the Bible can be read, the answer is yes. If you have a 1,000 power microscope, you can actually read the whole book. But enough of that. Let’s talk classified information.
It all started with Donald Trump and Mar-a-Largo. Classified documents found in his home. People lose their minds. Now, it appears that President Biden has been classified as a “serial hoarder” of classified data. From his offices to his home and even his garage stored behind his classic Corvette. His collection of classified information extends from his time as a vice-president all the way to when he was a senator. Yesterday, I saw where even former VP Mike Pence has classified information located in his home. Let’s not even discuss Hillary Clinton’s private classified server in her house.
Let’s talk intellectual honesty here. When I first heard of President Trump’s collection of classified, I told several people that if he was indeed guilty of a crime, then he should be punished. Absolutely. But at least as President, he does have the authority to declassify documents. Whether this was done or not, we do not yet know. What is certain, neither Pence nor Biden had such authority. What do you think that tells you about having a private classified server in your home?
When I left college, I immediately went into the Air Force and my first operational assignment was that of a KC-135 Tanker copilot at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, WA. I was 23 years-old and from my arrival at Fairchild until my retirement from the Air Force 25 years later in 2007, I had at a minimum a Top-Secret security clearance. I even held a higher classification for a large part of my career. So in terms of classified information, I pretty much know what I am talking about. When I see these intentional lapses of security, I just shake my head and wonder, “Who else?” This flippant attitude regarding classified information is frustrating to those of us who have handled classified information for years and know the consequences of what mishandling will do for you. BTW, when I say intentional lapses, this is just what they are. At the level these people are operating and with the sheer number of documents, I simply do not, will not and cannot believe it to be accidental. Sorry, I just don’t.
When I first entered the world of classified information, I remember the detailed background checks by, at the time to a 23 year-old guy, pretty threatening people. Not only do you answer their questions, but they are going to go around and ask people you know all about your life. Then we get trained, tested, tested, trained and trained some more. Every year. What is classified? How do you handle classified? What are the different levels of classification? What can I do and not do with classified? Let there be no mistake, when someone says they did not know they could not take classified data home, they are lying; to your face. If someone says they didn’t realize they could not put classified data on a thumb drive or burn it to a CD, they are lying; to your face. All of us familiar within the world of classified data know exactly what is and is not legal. If someone tells you they don’t, they are lying; to your face.
Every single person who has ever had a security clearance knows that you cannot store classified information in a shabby box while being protected by your custom Corvette. There is no gray area here, folks. None. Black and white. Right and wrong. Legal and illegal. No questions; no debate. Why is this so hard for people to understand. People want to debate you although they have no clue what they are talking about. I was on a layover one day going to our hotel. This was just as Hillary’s server issue came up. So, the other pilot and I were talking about it when the van driver jumped in the conversation. “I don’t think she did anything wrong. What’s the big deal?” So I asked the guy what year he got his security clearance and he said he never had one. My response? “So you are sitting there arguing with me over something you have no idea what the h#ll you are talking about! Really?” Needless to say the remainder of the trip to the hotel was rather “frosty.”
Look, handling classified data is serious business. Or rather should be. I had a friend when I was in the Air Force. Let’s call him, “Joe. Joe Bagodonuts.” He was also a KC-135 copilot from another base. But back when Strategic Air Command existed, both bombers and tankers sat a week of alert. For this entire week, we had to stay on the base in our alert facility, close to our airplanes just in case. As part of alert, the first thing we did was we had to go to the intelligence shop and grab all the information for the missions we would be tasked to fly in case the balloon went up. Each crew was given a specific mission to fly and we had to study it. It was called EWO (Emergency War Order) study. We had to study where we would go, what plane(s) we would refuel, what bases they came from, where we would land, etc. All highly classified stuff. But as we would study, we sat a table with a lot of information piled in front of us. When finished, we would gather the information, put it back in the flight case where it was stored, grab our own gear and go to the alert facility.
Well one day, “Joe” accidentally grabbed a classified document and put it into his own flight kit. He took it to the alert facility and then a week later when he was off alert, he took his flight kit home. There he discovered the document. He immediately drove back to the base and turned it in to the intelligence office. “Joe” was almost court martialed and tossed into jail. Only because of a gracious wing commander did he avoid a vacation in Leavenworth prison. Today, we have people intentionally mishandling classified data and people want to act as though it is totally acceptable because nothing ever seems to happen to the offending big fish.
You ever hear of former CIA director John Deutch. After he left the CIA, they found a cache of classified in his home. Although he lost his security clearance, he did no jail time. Remember when former National Security Advisor for President Clinton, Sandy Berger (or according to Rush Limbaugh, Sandy Burglar), stuffed classified documents in his clothes and socks and tried to walk out of National Archives. Although fined, he did no time in Leavenworth making new friends and was only charged with a misdemeanor.
The Washington Post has an interesting article titled, “U.S. Inconsistent When Secrets Are Loose.” https://washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2000/03/18/us-inconsistent-when-secrets-are-loose/6a928f72-d79b-430d-9c0b-93c67af05568/. It details how us mere “peasants” are punished for the mishandling of classified while the “beautiful people” basically get away with clear crimes.
As far as the current situation, I really do not care who you are, what party you are associated with, if you mishandle classified information, especially intentionally, you need to go to jail. What I can tell you for sure is that if I did what Joe Biden has done, I would be in jail today or if I was lucky, out on parole by now. Let no one deceive you. Unless the information has been declassified as possibly in the case of President Trump, this careless handling of classified information is a crime. Pretty simple stuff actually. If these people broke the law, punish them as the criminals they are