Who can declassify documents, and where can they be stored?

Has anyone ever noticed that there is a difference between the positions of president, vice president and secretary of state?

The president of the United States, vice president and the secretary of state are three very different positions in our government with different duties and authorities.

One of the authorities of government officials is the classification and declassification of documents. There are three levels of classification: 1) Top Secret, 2) Secret, and 3) Confidential. The details of each can be found at the National Archives Basic Laws and Authorities. Declassification and Downgrading is found in Part 3 of the document. Declassification is best summed up in a Congressional Research Service article, which states, “For some procedures, Congress retains the final authority on whether or not to declassify information. For others, the president makes the final determination. Still others can be requested by any U.S. person” following the procedures under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Did you notice something concerning who has the right to declassify documents? Unless they are following the FOIA procedures to request the documents to be declassified, the vice president and secretary of state do not have the authority to declassify documents.

While there are lots of opinions back and forth, Kel McClanahan, the executive director of the National Security Counselors, says that “a sitting U.S. president has wide-ranging authority to classify and declassify certain documents,” and Mr. McClanahan continued by saying, “He [the president] can just say, ‘I decided that this should be declassified,’ and it’s declassified.”

Once the president makes the declassification, a 2009 executive order directs the head of whatever government agency that originally deemed information as classified to oversee its declassification, and it sets rules for the process – but they do not apply to the president.

Concerning presidential authority, in 1988 the Supreme Court decided that under Article II, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution, the president’s power over classified information comes from executive authority.

While all of this information has been about the executive power of the president in declassifying documents, again, I failed to see this power for the vice president or the secretary of state.

Let’s continue. What about the storage of declassified documents? According to a DoD training guide, “All classified material must be stored in a secure room, a [Government Services Administration] GSA-approved storage container, such as a cabinet or safe or a vault or a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF).”

Well, the documents stored at Mar-a-Largo were in a locked storage room reviewed on June 3, 2022, by the FBI, who requested that Trump put an additional lock on the door, which he did. It should be noted that Mar-a-Largo is crawling with security and Secret Service agents. So that looks to me like that storage was in compliance with the law.

In sharp contrast is the document storage habits of Bill Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama. According to CNN fact checkers, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) stored Bill Clinton’s documents at the abandoned car dealership. According to a letter on the Obama Foundation website, Obama was storing “classified and unclassified documents” at an abandoned furniture warehouse. This does not seem that it would meet the criterion of a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF). Oh, and by the way, were these “classified” documents declassified?

One thing you can say here is at least Bill Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama did occupy the Oval Office as presidents.

What about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? She was not president. She deleted over 33,000 emails from a unauthorized private server and destroyed all the equipment. From some group of another 30,000 emails on the server that were reviewed by the FBI, 110 emails in 52 email chains were said to contain classified information, eight contained Top Secret information, and 36 contained Secret information. Was this easily hacked, unsecured, private server a GSA-approved storage place? Wait a minute. That is the wrong question. Hillary was secretary of state, so she could not have declassified these documents, so that means Hillary broke the law by having the documents where she had them.

In Biden’s case of having classified documents in a closet at the Penn Biden think tank and in two places in one of his Delaware homes, including in the garage, were these secured GSA-approved facilities? Wait a minute. That is the wrong question. Biden was vice president when he stashed these documents. Biden could not have declassified these documents. Biden broke the law by having the documents.

You cannot lump together classified documents possessed by President Trump, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary, because they had different jobs, and of the three only President Trump had the authority to declassify documents, which he says he did. And he stored the documents properly, or at least better than Obama and Bill Clinton.

Unfortunately, as best that I can tell, the law violated for merely having the documents is 18 U.S. Code 1924, which has a fine and/or up to five years of imprisonment.

I guess the real question is, “Were Joe and Hillary monetizing secrets?” If so, that would be treason. Hunter’s laptop stated that one of the purposes of the Penn Biden Center was “wealth generation” where the plan was to “operate like the Clinton Global Initiative without the money raise.” What would be similar between Joe and Hillary? Both illegally had classified documents. Now just how could you rake in millions from countries like China just because you illegally have classified documents, especially while refusing to turn over visitor logs to your Delaware home where some of the documents were kept in your garage by your Corvette? Hmmm … By the way, nice Corvette, Joe.

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