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Memorandum: In His Own Words: “Unique, Constitutional Responsibility to Protect the Nation's Classified Information”

MEMORANDUM TO MEMBERS

In His Own Words: “Unique, Constitutional Responsibility to Protect the Nation's Classified Information”

 

For thirty years, I served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: first as a Member, then as Ranking Member, then ex officio as Leader and Speaker.  On the Committee, it was constantly impressed upon on us our responsibility to protect our Nation’s secrets.  Revealing classified information jeopardizes not only our own national security, but the confidence of our Allies in sharing their intelligence with us.

As you know, in the Congress, when we review classified information, we cannot remove any documents – or even our own notes – from the Capitol Complex’s designated secure facilities.  Members in both chambers and of both parties understand full well the dangers to America’s national security, and to sources and methods, if classified information is not protected.

In fact, the former president himself acknowledged the importance and the imperative of safeguarding classified information, as indicated in public statements that he has made.

As President of the United States, on July 26, 2018, he said:

 

“As the head of the executive branch and Commander in Chief, I have a unique, Constitutional responsibility to protect the Nation's classified information, including by controlling access to it. ... More broadly, the issue of [a former executive branch official's] security clearance raises larger questions about the practice of former officials maintaining access to our Nation's most sensitive secrets long after their time in Government has ended. Such access is particularly inappropriate when former officials have transitioned into highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks. Any access granted to our Nation's secrets should be in furtherance of national, not personal, interests.”

 

As a candidate for President of the United States, he said:

  • “In my administration I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.” (August 18, 2016)
  • “We also need to fight this battle by collecting intelligence and then protecting, protecting our classified secrets…We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified.” (September 6, 2016)
  • “[O]ne of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.” (September 7, 2016)
  • “We also need the best protection of classified information.” (September 19, 2016)
  • “Service members here in North Carolina have risked their lives to acquire classified intelligence to protect our country.” (November 3, 2016)

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.  No one is above the law – not even the former president.  The indictment must go forth through the legal process, without favor or fear.