Clarifying the System and Authorities to Classify Information–Based on this, Trump Followed the Law
I suspect the bulk of the readers of this blog have never held a clearance, much less a Top Secret SI TK Gamma with SAPs. In fact, my use of acronyms such as “SI” or “TK” probably has you scratching your head. Understanding the system is key for you to realize that Donald Trump has broken no law and that this latest claim accusing him of illegally taking and storing classified it total bullshit. It is the tactic of desperate men and women eager to put an end to Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign for the Presidency.
I want you to first take a look at Executive Order 13526 issued by none other than Barack Obama. Sorry for the lengthy quote but it is important that you understand that Donald Trump acted in accordance with the Executive Order:
Sec. 1.2. Classification Levels.
(a) Information may be classified at one of the following three levels:
(1) ‘‘Top Secret’’ shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.
(2) ‘‘Secret’’ shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.
(3) ‘‘Confidential’’ shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.
Sec. 1.3. Classification Authority.
(a) The authority to classify information
originally may be exercised only by:
(1) the President and the Vice President;
(2) agency heads and officials designated by the President; and
(3) United States Government officials delegated this authority pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
Sec. 1.4. Classification Categories. Information shall not be considered for classification unless its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security in accordance with section 1.2 of this order, and it pertains to one or more of the following:
(a) military plans, weapons systems, or operations;
(b) foreign government information;
(c) intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology;
(d) foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources;
(e) scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security;
(f) United States Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities;
(g) vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, infrastructures, projects, plans, or protection services relating to the national security; or
(h) the development, production, or use of weapons of mass destruction.
Sec. 1.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations. (a) In no case shall
information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail
to be declassified in order to:
(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;
(3) restrain competition; or
(4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.
Sec. 3.1. Authority for Declassification. (a) Information shall be declassified as soon as it no longer meets the standards for classification under this order.
(b) Information shall be declassified or downgraded by:
(1) the official who authorized the original classification, if that official is still serving in the same position and has original classification authority;
(2) the originator’s current successor in function, if that individual has original classification authority;
(3) a supervisory official of either the originator or his or her successor in function, if the supervisory official has original classification authority; or (4) officials delegated declassification authority in writing by the agency head or the senior agency official of the originating agency.
(c) The Director of National Intelligence (or, if delegated by the Director of National Intelligence, the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence) may, with respect to the Intelligence Community, after consultation with the head of the originating Intelligence Community element or department, declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence relating to intelligence sources, methods, or activities.
(d) It is presumed that information that continues to meet the classification requirements under this order requires continued protection. In some exceptional cases, however, the need to protect such information may be outweighed by the public interest in disclosure of the information, and in these cases the information should be declassified. When such questions arise, they shall be referred to the agency head or the senior agency official. That official will determine, as an exercise of discretion, whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs the damage to the national security that might reasonably be expected from disclosure.
I want to draw your attention specifically to Section 1.7–In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to: (1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; (2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency . . .
I think a case can be made that the FBI and the Department of Justice are violating Obama’s Executive Order by trying to keep the documentary evidence of their lawless behavior classified. The material that Garland and Wray want classified “conceals violations of law.”
Donald Trump ordered the declassification of the Crossfire Hurricane material on December 30, 2020. You can read his order here. Donald Trump followed the law and acted in accordance with Barack Obama’s Executive Order.
One other point of clarification for most readers. There are only a small number of organizations in the United States Government that produce original intelligence where the members of those organizations have originating authority to classify a document or image or electronic communication. These agencies are:
- The Central Intelligence Agency (human source information)
- The Defense Intelligence Agency (human source information)
- The National Security Agency (NSA)
- National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency (NGA),
- National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
They produce original intelligence and, under Obama’s Executive Order, can determine the classification of the material/information they produce. Everyone else who writes an intelligence report based on the data produced by these five agencies has Derivative Classification authority.
Other entities, such as the FBI, DEA, Coast Guard and Department of Energy are nominally part of the intelligence community, but spend more time consuming intelligence product than producing intelligence product. The FBI and DEA in particular try not to produce intelligence from information (aka evidence) they collect in the course of an investigation because they want to be able to use that information in a prosecution. This is not to say that the FBI and DEA never produce intelligence, but it is not their primary task or focus.
I have written extensively in the past on Russiagate and the FBI’s role in promoting and executing lawless actions (click here). The raid on Mar A Lago is a just a new chapter in a long, tragic book. Regardless of how you feel about Donald Trump, he represented and still represents an existential threat to the corruption that has spread through the Federal Government. Vladimir Putin’s battle with recalcitrant oligarchs is child’s play compared to trying to clean out the vipers nest that controls Washington, DC.