Our TV stars gamboled and played: Jared Kushner can't seem to get a "top secret" security clearance.
According to the Washington Post, his interim security clearance "was downgraded last week from the top-secret to the secret level, which should restrict the regular access he has had to highly classified information."
Kevin Drum offered the comment shown below. It made us think of a disastrous, highly typical matter from the not-too-distant past:
DRUM (2/27/18): “Secret”? Not even “Top Secret?” Seriously? Nothing of any real consequence is classified Secret. Kushner has been put in about the same category as a sixth grader, and for good reason..."Nothing of any real consequence is classified Secret." Last night, Anderson Cooper made a somewhat similar comment:
COOPER (2/27/18): Let me point out, a top secret security clearance is not that big a security clearance. I mean there's code word security clearances which are much higher than that. You know, just about everybody gets a top secret security clearance.We don't know if Cooper knows whereof he speaks. We also don't know if security clearances for individuals correspond to the levels of classification which get placed on particular pieces of information—that is, if a "secret" security level only allows you to look at information which is classified as "secret."
You should be able to get it. A college student in college who applies to the CIA gets a top secret security clearance when you're working a summer job there. I can guarantee you that. And it's—that, you know, that takes a couple of months.
We aren't real expert on this, but, in part, that's the point. Drum's statement made us think of Fred Kaplan's report at Slate in July 2016, right after Comey the God delivered his first divine attack on the hideous Candidate Clinton.
Comey the God had ranted and railed about the candidate's "extremely careless" handling of classified material. The very next day, Kaplan rolled his eyes at the magnificent god's mighty pique.
The headline on Kaplan's piece said this: "The Hillary Clinton Email Scandal Was Totally Overblown." Here's what Kaplan said about the classified material in the vilified candidate's emails:
KAPLAN (7/6/16): Let’s review the numbers.Acording to Kaplan, out of 60,000 emails, the FBI found a tiny amount of material which was actually "top secret." Even that material was pure piddle, Kaplan said, as we'll show you below.
Examining the 30,000 emails that Clinton turned over, the FBI agents found 110—the back and forth of 52 email chains—that contained classified information. Of these, just eight [email chains] had material that she should have known was “top secret”; 36 of them had “secret” information; and eight more had stuff that she should have been known was “confidential.”
The agents also scrounged through the bits and pieces of 30,000 more emails that she didn’t turn over and found three—three!—that contained classified information: one secret and two confidential.
First, though, Kaplan recalled his own experience as a young secret agent man. It was much as Cooper said:
KAPLAN: As anyone who’s ever had a security clearance will tell you, the labels secret and confidential mean next to nothing. When I worked on Capitol Hill in the late 1970s, the government gave me a secret clearance on my first day of work, pending the investigation into my worthiness to hold a top secret badge. As far as anyone knew, I might have been a Soviet spy, carting out confidential and secret documents every night and making copies for my handler. But they also knew the risk was low because there was nothing in those documents that the Soviets would have paid a dime for. The same is true of our various adversaries and stuff marked secret today.Hey, that's what Cooper said! But what about the small amount of "top secret" material in Clinton's emails? Kaplan said this about that:
KAPLAN (continuing directly): Top secret information is another matter, but the stuff that showed up in Clinton’s private email wasn’t so special. Seven of the eight email chains dealt with CIA drone strikes, which are classified top secret/special access program—unlike Defense Department drone strikes, which are unclassified. The difference is that CIA drones hit targets in countries, like Pakistan and Yemen, where we are not officially at war; they are part of covert operations. (Defense Department drone strikes are in places where we are officially at war.) But these operations are covert mainly to provide cover for the Pakistani and Yemeni governments, so they don’t have to admit they’re cooperating with America. Everyone in the world knows about these strikes; nongovernment organizations, such as New America, tabulate them; newspapers around the world—including the New York Times, where some of the same reporters are now writing so breathlessly about Clinton’s careless handling of classified information—cover these strikes routinely.The president of Malawi! Carelessly, Clinton had let something slip about him!
The other top secret email chain described a conversation with the president of Malawi. Conversations with foreign leaders are inherently classified.
In short, even the small amount of "top secret" material was "top secret" in form only. According to Kaplan, the whole affair was complete and total absolute bullroar—bullroar all the way down.
Why do we recall this today? To help you remember how our lazy, feckless "career liberal journalists" helped Donald J. Trump reach the White House.
Kaplan is a serious, experienced specialist. In his analysis, he said the claim that Clinton had jeopardized "top secret" material was basically total bunk.
That was an important claim. But you never saw Fred Kaplan on your favorite cable entertainment program. Rachel kept propping Steve Kornacki before "the big board," where he'd do his carnival barker act, telling us how far ahead Candidate Clinton was.
The silly children gamboled and played. The lunatic candidate won. Astoundingly, Rachel never mentioned Comey at all until quite deep in the fall. In those days, cautious insider career corporate players didn't challenge the greatness of this particular insider god.
(On the brighter side, Rachel's incessant mugging and clowning helped us adepts learn to adore her more fully.)
Don't misunderstand! If Clinton had ended up in the White House, there would be total chaos today. She'd have been impeached a thousand times. Every imaginable pseudoscandal would have been rolled out by now.
That said, the failure to pursue what Kaplan said stands out from the year of entertainment our favorite cable stars gave us. The furor about the "top secret" emails was roughly the ten millionth pseudoscandal in twenty-five years of pseudoscandals aimed at Clinton, Clinton and Gore, as two generations of "career liberal journalists" refused to challenge what was being done, often by the major news orgs which largely define their careers.
Your Darling Rachel never mentioned Comey the God all through the summer and fall of 2016 until quite late in October. Four years before, she had refused to defend Susan Rice as the Benghazi pseudoscandal was being invented and was hardening, turning to solid stone.
These terrible, horrible corporate players have helped spread death across the globe. Their predecessors savaged Candidate Gore from March 1999 right through November 2000. Four cycles later, a new generation gamboled and played from 2014 on as the Washington Post and the New York Times revived their 25-year-old jihad against both Clintons and Gore.
The same old storylines got dragged out again. They produced a second disaster.
As all this bullroar rained down, Fred Kaplan never got interviewed! A great god's name was never mentioned. Are we happy with how that turned out?
Back to the board: Eight days ago, Brian Williams revived the shtick:
WILLIAMS (2/20/18): Coming up after a break, Steve Kornacki is among our guests tonight. He's going to be at the big board with new numbers on how we all feel about guns and gun safety reforms in the wake especially of this high school shooting in Florida. The 11th Hour, back after this.Sure enough! There was Kornacki in his standard uniform, sleeves rolled up, hunched over from the waist, talking extremely fast.
Just a good solid guess. Kornacki is dressing and performing as his bosses have told him he must. They ran it before some focus groups, and this is what the people liked.
So with Maddow's constant forced laughter, which arrived fairly late in the game. Do you really think it's real? Do you think Kornacki invented that shtick? Or was it focus grouped?