One thing that has been getting up my nose about the whole Documents Debacle—the latest news being that a few documents that were marked as classified were found in Our Previous Vice-President’s possession—is that… OK, actually there are two things.
First is that we as a nation classify way too many documents as being legally secret, and we don’t actually control those documents in any coherent and organized way, and we don’t provide enough resources to the National Archives and Records Administration to deal with the whole business, and I really think that we would be better off, as a nation, if we fixed all of that. We should classify fewer documents. We should put enough resources into controlling classified documents that we know where all of them are, and if we can’t do that, we should only classify as many documents as we are willing to actually track. So that’s a thing that gets up my nose.
And the second thing that gets up my nose is that the official Papers of the President and Vice-President belong to the nation, and office-holders should not steal them, whether they are classified or not. I am not concerned—I have never been concerned, even in the case of Our Previous President—about the spread of the information in the classified documents. I’m concerned about the theft of our national property. I’m concerned about biographers and political scientists and historians (and even historiasters) not having access to the material that they should have. This isn’t just secrets, and it isn’t primarily secrets. It’s not about how they’re stored. It’s about stealing.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
My goodness, you’re sounding like a librarian.
(And I mean that in the best possible way.)
Indeed, I suspect that library folks (and particularly archivists!) have different instincts on this one to the general populace. To be fair, national security folks presumably have different instincts on this one, too.
Well, and library folks and archivists (as you probably well know) often view things very differently EVEN BETWEEN THEMSELVES. (sorry, didn’t intend to shout there, but there’s no italics option…)
Can’t we all get along?