“There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it,” Trump said. “You’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified, even by thinking about it.“–Politico
In the 1960s, I worked in an office where classified documents were kept. They were kept in locked file cabinets marked “classified.” I was cleared to see secret documents, but rarely had good reason to do so.
When a cabinet was unlocked, it was marked “OPEN.” If workers needed to see a document, we were allowed to take it out, read, and required to put it back. These documents were never to be left on a desk or mixed with other papers. We were warned of serious consequences for carelessness; as far as I know, the rules were followed.
If the Federal Government took the same precautions with highly sensitive documents my employer and fellow workers had to take with more mundane documents, a great deal of the current troubles over classified documents could have been avoided. The problem may be that officials in high places don’t know the rules for handling classified documents or feel empowered to ignore them.
One of the problems, I think, with “classified” documents, is the reasons for classification. Do they really need to be classified, or are many routinely classified as a means to hide information that only makes the classifier look bad? I don’t know much about HOW they get classified or WHO has the right to classify. But my experience with secrecy in bureaucracies leads me to suspect that , other than highly sensitive material, classification of documents may be more of an exercise in CYA than national security.
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