OT: National secrets

This not political as it does not pertain to any single political party or individual (or their individual responses to finding top secret documents in their possession after they leave office).

And, I’m not really sure this is OT. Certain top secret leaks could have huge macro economic repercussions. But I digress ………

Now, the response I would really like to make would break several MF rules. So here is a cleaned up version.

To whatever idiotic national agency/agencies that are responsible for securing our national secrets, I make the following offer:

As a patriot, I offer, at no charge, to build you a password protected Excel spreadsheet to track our national secrets by type, date they are loaned out, who they are loaned to, date they are to be returned, and alerts when they are not returned by that date.

OK, I know password protected Excel spreadsheets can be hacked, but it’s better than whatever FUBAR system you clowns are currently using.

Just saying.


How do you know the documents being found are top secret.

I once was issued a security violation for leaving a circuit coordination document out. (It was on a desk inside a locked and alarmed class 5 vault, still proper handling would have been to shred it or lock inside a class 5 safe inside the class 5 vault) The document was market not Top Secret, not Secret but “For Official Use Only”

While I have no idea, nor do I care, what documents that these high office holders have at their homes, I do not immediately assume that they are Top Secret special handling.

In fact, when we briefed Ambassadors and even Chiefs of Station, we typically dumbed everything down. Politicians we treated like security leaks. Anything given to any elected official was assumed to be compromised. They are just too stupid and corrupt to be trusted.



Has there been any confirmation, for the two most recent individuals found to have documents, that said documents were actually “checked out” of any system?

I’ve wondered this from the start. I imagine a setting where the POTUS and perhaps the VP are provided a written security briefing that is deemed confidential. That document should be turned over to the “burn bag” but isn’t for whatever reason. I don’t imagine there is a process in place that requires the POTUS to turn that over in a timely manner - nor is there a process by which the POTUS must document whom he shares that document with.

In other words, I am not convinced that this is a National Archive issue as much as it is a problem with how information is routinely shared not only with the Executive branch but also with various members of Congress.

Who wonders just when we will run of out petards and who thinks some people have recently really really soiled their bedsheets - sometimes more than once.

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Leslie Jones did a hilarious take on this as the guest host on The Daily Show last week. It’s almost certainly on YouTube if you want to look for it.


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The little I know from reports leads me to believe the national archive records the comings and goings of classified documents. In fact that is why right now these documents are being called for I guess.

The issue is developing the wo/man power in the archive to follow up in retrieval of these documents upon usage by top officials.

The top officials are suppose to be reading many of these documents. This is a retrieval problem as much as it is a storage and forgetful problem.

Any good secretary would do some filing. It is the same function needed at the archive and any other responsible agencies.

I actually blame the agency or agencies that control these documents.

The press is just stirring the pot. Did you buy some soap you saw advertised next to these stories? Are you excited yet? Did the world end last Saturday? Will your world never be the same? Try Ivry Soap, 99.9% pure!

Although one of the incidences was the catalyst for this mess. As usual.


Yes there are rules about handling classified documents and who the document can be shared with. Classified documents can only be shared with other people with the appropriate level of clearance.

The recent problems have been associated with the return of classified documents to the Security Agencies or to the Archives. We have no knowledge if any of these classified documents were shared with non-cleared people.

IIRC, there is no universal tracking system for most classified documents. I would guess that 60 to 70 percent of classified documents are the lowest classification: “Confidential”. Other classifications are “Secret”, “Top Secret”, and some special classifications used by Department of Energy that requires a “Q” clearance .

US government laws and procedures regarding classified documents are summarized in the follwing:

Classified information in the United States - Wikipedia.

P.S. - I have held “Secret”, “Top Secret”, and “Q” clearances when I worked at Bechtel Corporation on Dept of Defense projects, Dept of Energy projects, State Dept projects and FBI projects. Yes we had to handle these documents with care and return them to the government at the end of the projects.

Do we want a universal tracking system for classified documents? That would be like taking out an ad for hackers to attend a party. NK, China, Russia over here!

BTW that does not mean there is no tracking system. The archive seems to know what is missing in one of these cases.

Those rules don’t apply to the POTUS. They can share it with whomever they like.


Well, so the president controls classified information. The - almost the definition of classified information is material the president wants to protect. So if the president wants to disclose it, he gets to disclose it. And disclosures that would be a very serious crime if anyone else did them are almost certainly not if the president does them. So, you know, if the question is, is there a criminal problem here, the answer is almost certainly not.

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Seems to me there is a distinct difference between military classified documents and those classified for reasons of diplomacy.

Every meeting with a foreign leader has public disclosures as well as confidential reports of what was discussed. These probably end up in files as classified documents. They are most of what you expect to find in former officials files. Not military secrets.

Systems should recognize the differences. And should have their own rules.

To repurpose a line from another topic, “you either have document security, or you don’t”



That law was for an honest POTUS that upholds the Constitution and wants to protect America. Our laws depend on honest people being elected as POTUS. We now see the problem with that law the gives a dishonest POTUS the ability to be a traitor.

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Fareed argues: “In 2012, records were classified at a rate of 3 per second, making for an estimated 95 million classifications that year alone. … The real scandal is that the U.S. government has a totally out-of-control system of secrets that represents a real danger to the quality of democratic government.”



The dude has no clue what government secrecy is like, even in a democracy.

Official Secrets Act 1989

The Official Secrets Act 1989 (c. 6) is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that repeals and replaces section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911), thereby removing the public interest defense created by that section.

So, even if leaking the “Pentagon Papers” was in the public interest, leaking it would be a Federal offense, if Shiny-land had an “official secretes act”, like the one in the UK.

Bernard explains the “irregular verb”