January 25, 2023

Classified Documents

Documents with classified markings were discovered in former Vice President Mike Pence ’s Indiana residence last week, his lawyer says, the latest in a string of recoveries of papers meant to be treated with utmost sensitivity from the homes of current and former top U.S. officials.” AP News

The FBI searched President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday and located additional documents with classified markings and also took possession of some of his handwritten notes.” AP News

See our prior coverage of the topic here and here. The Flip Side

Both sides argue that Pence’s conduct appears less serious than either Biden’s or Trump’s handling of classified documents, and criticize Biden’s response to the situation:

“[The situation with Pence] looks like a more venial sin than Mr. Biden’s scattering of classified material in a disused office, his home, and his garage next to his Corvette. Ditto for Mr. Trump’s reluctance to return the classified files at Mar-a-Lago, despite a subpoena…

“Yet it’s hard not to wonder what might be lurking in the closets of other former Senators and cabinet secretaries. To anyone whose livelihood involves carefully and properly handling secret information, the apparent carelessness at the top of the org chart is probably nothing short of stunning. All of this should inspire a drive to classify much less information in the first instance.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Pence, who has repeatedly denied possessing classified documents, appears guilty of hypocrisy and sloppiness. Ditto Biden, who called Trump hanging onto material ‘irresponsible.’ But both former VPs admitted to having material and then agreed to give it back. Trump refused to return documents, and lied about having them, until the FBI had to execute a search warrant to seize them.”
Dan Friedman, Mother Jones

“President Biden said last Thursday that he has ‘no regrets’ about his response to the discovery of mishandled classified information. ‘There’s no ‘there’ there,’ he said. The next day, FBI agents searched his private home in Wilmington, Del., for 13 hours and retrieved six additional items, dating to his time in the Senate and as vice president. This was at least the fifth tranche of classified material discovered since November in unsecured places that have ranged from the Delaware garage where the president parks his Corvette to the Washington think tank where he kept an office…

“This Editorial Board expressed dismay about the degree to which Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information factored into the 2016 election. More recently, we’ve questioned whether the appointment of a special counsel was warranted in the Biden case, even for the sake of consistency with the Trump one. We’ve highlighted the long-standing need to repair the antiquated and overwhelmed classification system. But none of that lets Mr. Biden off the hook. It is important that authority figures try to follow the rules and own up to their mistakes when they make them… Acknowledging that he has grounds for regret would be a good start.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“Biden seems to be suggesting that sloppy aides packed classified documents in his belongings, and then sent them unsecured to multiple unauthorized locations that all just happen to be Biden’s own private locations. If this happened, these had to be either aides who have security clearances, or uncleared staffers to whom aides with security clearances unlawfully transmitted these documents, and who then shipped them to Biden — without his knowledge, we’re to believe…

“If that is what Team Biden says happened, if that is what they are saying was what passed for security protocols in the Obama administration, then that is a scandalous allegation. It would call for intensive national security investigations of all Obama officials whose belongings were packed up and shipped out of the White House when the administration ended…

“Then, of course, there is Biden’s possession of classified documents from his decades in the Senate… As a senator, Biden should not have had any classified documents outside a SCIF. He should not have had any notes. Yet reports about the search indicate that agents seized both classified documents from Biden’s Senate tenure and notes. Since he was not supposed to have these in the first place, which ‘sloppy aide’ could possibly be responsible for ‘inadvertently misplacing’ them?”
Andrew C. McCarthy, New York Post

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Right

From the Left

A libertarian's take

“Biden's retention of classified material from his time as vice president went unnoticed for six years, while one or more secret documents that he came across as a senator remained in his private possession more than twice as long. How many classified records might be discovered in the homes or offices of other former federal officials if anyone bothered to search for them? And do those overlooked documents pose a real threat to national security, or only to the idea that the classification system should be taken seriously?”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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