General Question

YARNLADY's avatar

Are "classified" documents really that important?

Asked by YARNLADY (46135points) 1 month ago

I can’t believe people are interested on so-called secrets, except in very rare cases.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

25 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

YUP they are . . . I had clearance for many years: my dad and wife had clearances also.

It is not like the recipe for chili. People’s lives are at stake or the country’s security.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Is your SS number important ?

Is you password for your bank account important ?

janbb's avatar

I have read recently that there are too many documents that are being classified unnecessarily. This is not to say that some should be.

SnipSnip's avatar

When the classification is not abused, yes. As time has gone by it has been used hide illegal and/or politically damaging materials at least for enough years that nothing will come of their contents when they are eventually

filmfann's avatar

Absolutely yes!

Lightlyseared's avatar

Not all. That’s why everyone was so upset when the US government wanted to arrest Snowdon, Asange etc

flutherother's avatar

Classified documents should be treated as though they were important in the same way a gun should be handled as though it were loaded.

seawulf575's avatar

There are 3 levels of classification: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. They go by importance and, I always felt, how much direct information they had that you wouldn’t want your enemies to have. Top secret might be something that shows our defense plans or how our fighter planes work. Secret might contain something that shows capabilities or training aspects for our soldiers. Confidential might contain information that could be used to interpret things, clues if you will, you wouldn’t want someone to be able to figure out.

The argument could be made that there are many things that might be marked Confidential that are ludicrous. When I was in the Naval Nuclear Power School, anything we wrote on, even a scrap piece of paper, we had to mark as Confidential. It might just be test answer sheets. No questions, just answers, and they might be for a class on calculus or even trigonometry. Something you could learn anywhere. Was anything on there really confidential? Probably not other than it might show how we were training our nuclear technicians.

The answer to the question really revolves around what your security mindset is.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Yes. Very important. That said, I am sure the system has been abused from time to time.

NoMore's avatar

Yes. Historically speaking, classified info can be a game changer if leaked. Going back as far as a century ago, the British Navy intercepted and decoded the Zimmerman Telegram, a secret telegram from the German Foreign Minister to his Ambassador in Mexico. It ordered him to tell Mexico that if they would join the war on Germany’s side, they would return Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to Mexico if they were victorious. The Brits immediately sent this to President Wilson and his Cabinet, resulting in national outrage and anti German sentiment throughout the nation, and American entry into World War One on the side of England and France.We all know that worked out for Germany.

Locke's avatar

It definitely seems like there is way too much classified. I’ve read that “classified” documents are a lot more common than they used to be and even some in the government think that too much is being classified. They’re always going to say it’s classified for security reasons, but I’m sure there are other reasons things are being hidden.

Entropy's avatar

So….I’ll say MOSTLY, yes, it’s a big deal and we should hold our politicians accountable for mishandling them. If you’re a Democrat, make it clear that you are cross with Hillary and Biden for their behavior. if you’re a Republican, make it clear that you are cross with Trump and Pence. Police your own.

Classified documents can have names in them and people DIE when those names are revealed to the wrong people. It can reveal ‘sources and methods’ even when specific facts on them aren’t interesting unto themselves. Like if I said “Oh, this one room in the Kremlin is purple” in a document, that tells the FSB agent who gets his hand on that document that my source is someone who has been to the room. That narrows his list of potential moles. (that’s a terrible example, please don’t nitpick it, but I think you get the idea).

Now, I will tell you, the NSA (and I presume other intelligence agencies as well) have a pretty substantial problem with overclassifying. It’s WAY easier AND safer to just slap classified on everything rather than actually scrutinize the document. When I briefly worked in the intel space, I was bombarded with training and rules about when to mark things at various levels…and quickly found out that the most common solution was just to slap ‘Confidential’ on literally everything.

It’s likely that a fair bit of the stuff Hillary emailed or that are in Trump/Biden/Pence’s trove of documents are not a big deal. But these are politicians getting briefings. It’s likely there’s ALSO alot of very serious stuff that if it were to fall into the wrong hands could lead to sources being exposed…which would mean their deaths.

So yes, it’s a big deal. And we all need to hold our own team accontable. It’s also true that likely most of it isn’t all that substantial. But there’s certainly going to be SOME juicy stuff mixed in.

BTW – Let’s also differentiate Biden/Pence from Trump/Hillary. The former two voluntarily outed themselves and cooperated. The latter two were belligerent and resisted. But that doesn’t mean Biden/Pence shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions. Remember, plenty of regular people have mishandled classified info and gone to Federal Pound Me In The A—prison for it, even when they did it by mistake. Just because these four are politicians doesn’t mean their should be given a pass.

safai's avatar

@YARNLADY National security related documents (the ones that would help the enemy) are rare? I would think they are not at all rare.

safai's avatar

And even if there was only one document (which it can’t be) wouldn’t it be labelled “Classified”?

seawulf575's avatar

And apparently they were REALLY important when it was Trump that had “classified” materials. Now that it is Biden it doesn’t seem as important.

NoMore's avatar

Nonsense. If he’s guilty he should be prosecuted. I don’t burn insense around an 8×10 glossy of my Savior, uh my President , and feel he’s above the law. Forgive me Father for I sinned and spoken blasphemously of Trump..Que Republican Tabernacle Choir.

seawulf575's avatar

@NoMore Let’s look at the two cases. You DO burn your incense (proper spelling) around the 8×10 glossy of your president (Biden) because you want to make all his crimes go away. Trump had “classified” materials at Mar-a-Lago. I have to use the quotation marks because, as POTUS, he had the right (and was the only sole person that DID have that right) to declassify those materials. So the first thing you have to prove is that he DIDN’T declassify them. If he declassified them then it really doesn’t matter what was there. All you potentially have is that the National Archives weren’t notified. But there is not a single procedure that says when the POTUS declassifies something he has to notify them.

Now contrast that with Biden. He was VP. He had no right to declassify materials. So every document he had is an example of classified materials that are out of control. When he left office he had no right to keep any of the classified materials. Some of the classified materials go back to when he was a Senator. He REALLY didn’t have any right to have those documents then. And the law is very clear: intent or ignorance are not excuses for it. Losing control of the documents (storing them in your garage is considered a loss of control) is a punishable crime.

Every excuse you make for Biden is just an ignorant lie. Every claim you make against Trump in these cases is bogus.

NoMore's avatar

As I have said, if he is guilty should pay the penalty. As should Pence and your Orange Messiah.

smudges's avatar

Better classified than an “oopsie” at some point down the road.

KNOWITALL's avatar

If they are that important, based on recent events, updated protocol’s need to be in place!

It’s ridiculous and unprofessional for this to continue. Imagine being President of a whole ass country and worrying about pieces of paper a staffer said were organized and safely stored. More political smoke and mirrors in my opinion.

seawulf575's avatar

@KNOWITALL while it might be political smoke and mirrors, it shows a distinct lack of ownership by the politicians. When I was in the service and had the security clearance, I was responsible for making sure I didn’t accidentally take classified materials from where they were supposed to be. You owned that responsibility. You didn’t pass it along to others. If these politicians are supposed to be making security decisions, they ought to be more mindful of security measures and not blame staffers.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@seawulf575 Sure but our President’s are a bit different. Perhaps they need need to print to pdf’s only, something needs to change.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

When you deal with things at their level, it is very easy to get documents mixed.

seawulf575's avatar

@KNOWITALL What needs to change is two things. The first is the attitude of the people getting the security clearances. It is a huge responsibility that requires you to treat pretty much everything you do in your business as being classified. What we have now is a whole lot of politicians (presidents included) that truly believe that there are things in their business world that are not classified. They are trying to make that determination on their own. That is problem #1. Problem number 2 is that we need to have one set of standards to the laws and hold ALL people to them. If some grunt Marine did what Biden did, he’d be investigated for espionage and possibly tossed into Leavenworth. Instead of making excuses of people like Biden, they need to be held to actually a higher standard of responsibility, though I’d be happy if we treated everyone the same when it comes to classified materials. One of the biggest shams of our time was when Hillary was let off with absolutely nothing except excuses being made for her.

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