Expert gets Biden scandal all wrong
Politico called Mark Zaid “a prominent national security attorney who has extensive experience dealing with claims around mishandling classified information.” I will take its word on that because Zaid — a lawyer based in DC — is considered an expert by other news media outlets, including PBS. And wherever two or more news outlets are gathered, anyone they consider to be an expert is an expert, right?
This is what Zaid told PBS on August 26, 2022, weeks after the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago and confiscated 11,000 items including President Trump’s passports, photos, fan letters, apparel and 1,693 newspapers, magazines and clippings. The FBI claimed only 100 of those items were classified. 99% of what the FBI took belonged to Trump and not the government. The ownership of the remaining 1% is in dispute.
Zaid said, “Well, one thing, I agree. This was what we expected it to look like, which is unusual, because we never pre-indictment get these types of documents.”
Pre-indictment? Nearly six months later, there is no indictment, just as there never were indictments related to Russiagate by Mueller.
Zaid went on, saying, “But what jumped out to me as the most important were the designations of some of the markings that had previously been stated. We knew from the receipt of property documents that were seized by the FBI that there was what was called SCI, sensitive compartmented information. We usually hear that with TS/SCI, top secret information.
“But we received information about additional what we call SAP, Special Access Programs, and type of designations, special intelligence, or S.I., HUMINT, or human-controlled system, HCS. This is human intelligence. FISA, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, documents or information that came as a result of a warrant authorized by the special FISA court.
“This is some of the most sensitive information that exists in the U.S. government, and I dare say could even potentially put lives at risk.”
Mind you, Zaid never saw any of these documents. Also, the search warrant was issued by a magistrate appointed by Biden and not a FISA court, as Zaid implied.
Nevertheless, Zaid told PBS in August, “Well, the first thing is, as part of the documents that were filed by the Justice Department, along with releasing the affidavit was an indication that they are still in their infancy of investigating what took place, especially in the aftermath.
“Look, if this were just about — let's say if we went back a few months, and this was only about receiving and retrieving the documents, and there was no allegations of obstruction, or possibly lying to federal authorities, I think it would have ended.
“But because of what led to this affidavit being submitted to the magistrate judge in the first place, actual allegations of obstruction and possible destruction of documents, I think we are more likely to look towards possible criminality.
“Now, who that applies to is completely still unclear. There's nothing in what we received today that would indicate that President Trump individually is more or less likely to be prosecuted.
“But I dare say I think someone — we don't know who — is probably a little bit more nervous today.”
So Politico interviewed Zaid on Biden’s security breach and Zaid told them what they wanted to hear — just as he told PBS what it wanted to hear about Mar-a-Lago.
Zaid said Biden was clean as a whistle. He did nothing wrong.
In a story published on January 20, Zaid told Politico, “What happened is what I see happen fairly often. Folks pack up their offices after they leave federal employment and mistakenly take classified documents with them.”
Wow. When they quit, retire or are fired, government workers just take home classified documents — mistakenly — and no one in DC cares. I mean, unless the person is President Trump. Then we send a SWAT team to his home which then spends 9 hours sorting through his closets and his wife’s underwear drawer.
Zaid said, “It should be something that is completely avoidable. But it is very easy for documents to be packed up among other documents and commingled so that classified information is mistakenly grabbed with unclassified information.”
Wow. Security in federal offices is so lax that employees commingle classified and unclassified documents. Then they grab — again, mistakenly — the classified stuff when they leave office. He is saying no one bothers to look at what they are grabbing when they vamoose. He also implies that everyone knows this but no one bothers to stop the documents from being taken home.
Politico asked him about the delay in disclosing that someone had found Biden’s stash of classified documents at the Penn library and in his garage.
Zaid said, “I would not have revealed it at the time out of concern of influencing, unfairly and unduly, the elections. Where I would have differed and where I believe the Biden administration is committing unforced errors was that, when the White House acknowledged there were documents found on Nov. 2, they did not reveal the Dec. 20th find over at his Delaware residence. That was a complete PR political blunder.”
Wow. Trump keeping newspaper clippings and the like in his home, according to Zaid, “put lives at risk” while Biden putting classified documents in his garage and at the Penn library is merely a “PR political blunder.”
The interview ended with this exchange.
Politico: “Is the double standard between Trump and Biden or between Biden and, say, a mid level staffer who may have unknowingly taken classified papers with him? How much trouble would that person be in right now?”
Zaid: “I am certainly not going to deny a double standard exists. I argue it all the time. But it’s not black and white. I’ve had senior government officials treated worse than lower government officials. It really depends on the facts of the case. So, yes, the process is fraught with inconsistencies and arbitrariness. But it really depends on so many factors that we can’t look at it in a vacuum. And let’s be realistic, a former vice president or president is always going to be treated differently. It’s not a fair comparison to make because there are so many issues around taking action against that individual.”
He left out the part where there is a huge difference between how the FBI treats Donald John Trump and how it treats everyone else in Washington.
But hypocrisy is the coin of the realm in our nation’s capital. I can yammer on about it forever and never change a darned thing. No, my question today is who the heck died and left Zaid as an expert on national security?
Well, the answer is no one died. Everyone just assumed he is an expert because someone somewhere down the line called him one once.
I looked Zaid up on Wikipedia and found zero national security credentials. He never worked for the military. He never worked for the federal government. He is a lawyer who represented Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees when he sought to obtain his FBI files. But he has been on CNN and MSNBC talking about national security — and that’s good enough for PBS and Politico.
This is what passes for expertise on national security in Washington DC, a place overrun by spooks both active and retired. But, boys and girls, it is not what you know but it is what can fake the news media into believing you know.
I mean it is not like DC is not crawling with retired generals and ex-CIA agents and the like. Surely, Richard Grenell, John Bolton, Condoleezza Rice or any other former National Security Adviser would gladly talk about Bidengate or Trumpgate.
But PBS and Politico settled on interviewing Mickey the Monkee’s mouthpiece for insight into presidential document security.
David Brinkley told the Washington Post in 1974, “I believe the television anchorman becomes famous, but not for his power to influence uncritical masses of people, and not for his ability to change the social or political order or to elect a candidate or defeat one. So what is he famous for? Mainly, he is famous for being famous.”
A half-century later, we find TV anchormen now interview experts who are considered experts because other TV anchormen say he is an expert.
I have no national security experience. I have seen none of the documents in question.
Nor has Mark Zaid.
The difference is he is on the Rolodexes of TV bookers who know he will say what they want to hear. That is how the media operates these days. The bias of the media, I can handle. The nation can (and has) adjusted for the bias. The real problem is the ignorance that the media passes along through self-declared experts.
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