It seems both Democratic and Republican presidents have shown they can handle classified material irresponsibly. While there are important differences between the two cases, I believe a more important point is being missed.

Biden Classified Documents

The letter from House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., to White House Counsel Stuart Delery is photographed Jan. 10. The letter requested copies of the documents found at the Biden office, communications about the discovery, and a list of those who may have had access to the office where they were found. Jon Elswick/Associated Press

Why didn’t the National Archives, for almost six years, fail to flag as missing the classified documents from Joe Biden’s time as vice president? If not for the recent fortunate discovery of these documents, at Biden’s home and when cleaning out Biden’s former office, the documents would be still be missing and no one would be the wiser.

This raises the question: How many other former Cabinet members and high-level officials from prior administrations may have outstanding classified material in their possession that is not accounted for?

All classified documents require a coversheet. The coversheet, in a large bold font, states the level of classification for the document. For any staff person packing up documents, seeing a coversheet with the words “SECRET” or “TOP SECRET” should set off alarms. For those who may not know, the criterion for top-secret classification is “information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.” The location of documents at this level needs to be known at all times.

To prevent this from happening again, oversight from the government agency charged with the logging of classified material should be strengthened. Additionally, all staff who may need to handle classified material should receive the appropriate training. Access to classified material is a privilege, not a right, and that privilege can be revoked.

Samuel Rosenthal

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: