Friday, December 9, 2022

For the Record: Trolled Again


It's a little self-indulgent on my part to run this whole idiotic thread, but it's about some misinformation in the Mar-a-Lago stolen documents case which seems to be leaving a lot of people really confused.

No, you haven't challenged anything. All you've done is babble about blinking red   lights. Of which I can't tell whether it's meant as a metaphor or something you saw in a spy movie.

What it certainly isn't is anything you read about the National Archives and Records Administration, because there is never an occasion when the National Archives would "become involved" because a secret document is "taken to the President". The only time NARA is directly involved with the White House is when a president is leaving, as specified in the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which, as you could read at Wikipedia,

mandates that all records created by the Executive Office of the President are to be preserved and transferred to the National Archives at the end of a president's administration.

And note that those are not records controlled by "the various agencies that generate TS docs (DOD, NSA, CIA, etc.)" but records created and controlled by the White House, which are by definition not classified (unless some agency with classification authority has taken them over—the president doesn't have that authority, though as we've learned he is sort of able to declassify documents). Moreover it's the White House staff, not NARA, that's responsible for preserving presidential records, as most ordinary readers could have learned in 2018, from the spectacle of Trump staffers being forced to follow the president around gathering the pieces of paper he dropped on his peregrinations through the office:

[Solomon] Lartey, who earned an annual salary of $65,969 as a records management analyst, was a career government official with close to 30 years under his belt. But he had never seen anything like this in any previous administration he had worked for. He had never had to tape the president’s papers back together again.

Armed with rolls of clear Scotch tape, Lartey and his colleagues would sift through large piles of shredded paper and put them back together, he said, “like a jigsaw puzzle.” Sometimes the papers would just be split down the middle, but other times they would be torn into pieces so small they looked like confetti. (Politico)

I don't know what "DOJ Pretext Bot" (I think the name is meant to identify him as part of the "I'm so mad at Merrick Garland" caucus, and he thinks of himself as of the left) imagines the National Archives are, but in point of fact they are an archive, as the name suggests to those who know what the word means,

a place in which public records or historical materials (such as documents) are preserved
an archive of historical manuscripts
a film archive
also the material preserved 
often used in plural
reading through the archives
a repository or collection especially of information

run by librarians, not spies, dealing not just with presidential records but all the government documents they can get their hands on, with the aim of making sure that they are available both to researchers and to the general public, the last being their democratic principal mission as cited in the Mission Statement:

We drive openness, cultivate public participation, and strengthen our nation’s democracy through equitable public access to high-value government records.

It doesn't deal with classified material in principal, except insofar as agencies with classificatory authority reclassify items in its collections and may ask it to withdraw them (it does participate in efforts to open up unnecessarily classified information through the National Declassification Center launched by Obama's executive order in 2010, and works to review FOIA policies and resolve FOIA disputes through its Office of Government Information Services), and its agents don't hang out in the White House waiting for red lights to blink and keeping a log of the occurrences; it's supposed to collect White House documents just the one time every four or eight years when a particular president passes from the White House into history.

Except, as you know, for the one time beginning in 2020 when out-of-control lawbreaker Donald Trump and his minions were refusing to pass into history and refusing to give up the stuff that no longer belonged to them, and NARA began agitating to get possession of it, according to its clearly defined mission, as I reported at length back in August, when it took them over a year to get any cooperation (1/2021 to 1/2022) and then discovered all this classified material that should have been returned not to them but to the various agencies that had classified them, and turned to the Justice Department for help, and eventually a bunch of different institutional interests (we don't yet know how many) including NARA (after its unclassified property) as well as the intelligence community (after its secrets), necessitating turning over the matter to a Special Counsel, Jack Smith.

Which makes this whole discussion so stupid, because, as you learn working through the thread,  it's being driven by somebody, "DOJ Pretext Bot", who is totally uninformed about how any of it works, and there's no reason to take anything he says, databases and blinking lights, seriously. It's just infuriating to be trolled in this elaborate way by somebody who isn't even willing to inform himself (as you see he did read part of  "paragraph 2, sentence 1" of the official NARA letter I sent him, but apparently not the whole sentence, and definitely not sentence 2). "U mad bro?" You bet I am.

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