Home News Congress Deserves Answers on Why Classified Documents Are Walking Off

Congress Deserves Answers on Why Classified Documents Are Walking Off


Op-ed produced by Brad Wenstrup

President Biden has had, in his possession, classified documents for at
least six years and potentially much longer. The documents found in his
private office reportedly included material related to Iran, Ukraine and
the United Kingdom. Congress deserves answers and accountability on
how our national security secrets are kept safe when in the hands of
our nation’s top executives.
Classified documents have now been found at the homes of President
Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President
Mike Pence.
How did these documents end up outside of secure locations in the first
place? In the case of Pence and Biden, why didn’t the National Archives
come looking for them long ago?
Documents found in Biden’s possession, reportedly clearly marked at
the highly classified “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information”
(TS/SCI) level, ended up mixed in with Biden’s personal possessions and
stored in multiple locations, including his garage. A garage? Seriously?
Biden says that storing the documents in his locked garage shows he
takes seriously his responsibility to safeguard the nation’s secrets. But
anyone who had access to the home could have had access to the
Classified documents cannot just walk off or end up in someone’s
garage without someone placing them there, so it’s puzzling as to how
this has occurred.

As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence, I know that we always view classified information within a
Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), and we take the
utmost care to ensure no classified materials ever leave the secure
briefing rooms. We have to leave our phones outside the SCIF. A
designated and cleared staff person counts all the documents to ensure
that they are all within the room before we can leave so as to verify our
nation’s secrets remain secure.
I agree with the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability
Committee, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), that we need to reform how
these documents leave the office of the president and vice president,
and define and assign oversight, possibly through the National Archives,
to ensure that classified documents at the executive level are treated
with the high level of security they deserve.
I also believe that it is important that the House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence be briefed. Chairman Mike Turner, who
leads the Committee, has formally requested that Avril Haines, the
Director of National Intelligence, review and assess any damage caused
by the discovery President Biden’s inappropriate possession of
classified documents and that she provide us with a classified briefing
on the findings. We made the same request in August concerning the
Mar-a-Lago document raid. Neither request has received a response.
The law requires the intelligence community to respond to Congress, as
required by 50 U.S.C. § 3091(a)(1) and (e.) Agencies are answerable to
us; we are a government of the people, yet Congress’ requests for
information and transparency have been repeatedly stonewalled.
Congress created these agencies, and we fund them. We have the
power to defund or withhold funding from the agencies if they do not
answer to the people’s representatives.

We deserve honesty and transparency from our nation’s executives,
from the law enforcement agencies like the DOJ and FBI, and from the
entire Intelligence Community. We have a duty to conduct oversight of
these agencies and follow the facts wherever they lead us. This is how a
free country works! We will work to get answers for the American