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Secrecy Is for Losers


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What were President Biden’s lawyers doing digging around in storage boxes a few days before the midterm elections last November? The official story—that they stumbled on secret documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement while they were “packing files”—is improbable on its face. Who sends high-level lawyers to pack boxes unless they’re worried about what’s going to turn up? Even if the initial files were discovered by accident, there is no plausible, non-political explanation for why the White House waited two months, until well after the midterm elections, to acknowledge the discovery. The one certainty so far is that the pertinent information necessary to form a reasonably informed judgment about the severity of the infraction is being withheld from the public. Rather than provide American citizens with a working knowledge of their own government, the White House and Justice Department drip half facts out to the public, in a method similar to water torture.

The Justice Department’s current calm and steady approach offers quite a contrast to what happened last August when the FBI raided former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound. The unprecedented use of a state security agency against a former president was justified by what was purported to be an urgent national security threat. And what was that threat? We still don’t know since the whole matter remains a secret. In The Washington Post, anonymous government sources claimed that the raid was triggered because Trump was holding on to documents containing nuclear secrets. Each individual component of the story—the anonymity of the sources, the unknown nature of the documents, the secrecy surrounding the timing of the raid—might appear weak on its own, but together they were mutually reinforcing and created the illusion that there was solid evidence of an imminent national security emergency. Even better, since the claims were secret, they couldn’t be refuted—an arrangement that granted the federal agencies impunity and allowed pundits’ imaginations to run wild devising the most grandiose possible justifications for the raid.

The more reliant the press has become on secrets and leaks, the more sycophantish and naive its attitude toward the security agencies. Consider what happened with the 2018 memo published by then California Congressman Devin Nunes, which detailed how the FBI had relied on the fraudulent Steele dossier in obtaining its FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign. Nunes’ claims were correct and subsequently corroborated by multiple sources, including the 2019 Justice Department Inspector General report on the origins of the Russia-Trump investigation. But at the time the memo was released, the widespread attitude in the press was snide dismissal. As Matt Taibbi points out in a recent Twitter Files release, the efforts to “debunk” the memo mostly consisted of multiple journalists calling it a “joke” and using strikingly similar language to discredit it. Aside from being spectacularly wrong, the arrogant rejection was jarring because it was not rooted in any counterfactual evidence proving Nunes incorrect, but rather in a blind-faith acceptance of official secrets. Nunes had to be lying because people like Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff looked very confident when they attacked him while intimating knowledge of classified information. Or, according to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, because the FBI said so. But the classified information backing up the claims from Schiff and Feinstein didn’t exist. Hidden behind the veil of secrecy was not a trove of grave secrets that held in the balance the fate of our great democracy, but a howling nothing. They were bluffing a hand, counting on the press to fold. It worked.

In light of all that, it seems plausible, as some are now speculating, that the keepers of secrets in the U.S. security agencies have turned on Biden and are using the classified document scandal to kneecap him before the 2024 election. But as Lee Smith argues, the evidence available so far, limited as it is, suggests a cover-up more than a coup. Smith points to Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointment of Robert Hur as the special counsel investigating Biden’s handling of the documents. Hur, writes Smith, “is a protégé of Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general under Trump who reportedly offered to wear a wire to spy on the previous president.” In other words, despite being a Republican, Hur is connected to the apparatus of secrecy. If there is, in fact, a cover-up, Biden may not be its main beneficiary.

But a cover-up for what? Perhaps it’s related to the Justice Department’s efforts to “prevent disclosure of 400 pages of sensitive documents on Hunter and Jim Biden’s dealings with China, Russia and Ukraine—by pretending they don’t exist,” as the Daily Mail has reported. We’re back at the original question of what Biden’s lawyers were looking for in the first place. Try to understand what your own government is up to, and you wind up like a dog chasing its own tail. Or maybe just sniffing it.

Wherever the truth lies in the Biden case, it’s obvious that administrative secrecy is routinely used as a veto on democracy and the rule of law. The same opaque network of bureaucrats and security officials who still have not explained to the public why they raided Trump’s compound can’t be expected to play it straight now. Being transparent with the public might put them out of business.


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Why do these articles always completely ignore the well known and publicized fact that Trump was raided because he and his lawyers refused to return the classified documents both sides knew that he had. 

Biden was not "Raided" because he returned the documents as soon as his team found them. 


This is a simple concept, but right wingers act like understanding it is quantum science or something that's outside the comprehension of the human mind. I assume it's because admitting that fact would immediately invalidate 80% of the articles and points they want to write about. 


As for the whole secrecy stuff...yeah our government has secrets...if you're expecting the FBI/Justice department to publicly give away all the evidence and facts it's gathered DURING an active investigation then you'll always be disappointed. It doesn't mean there is some grand conspiracy involving China, Biden Hunters laptop or whatever....

And Yes, Biden waiting months to publicly disclose he found classified documents in his storage was a political move. That's 100% correct. It's how politics work. It again...doesn't point to some weird conspiracy. 

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