Dunn: Defend your country, not ‘your guy’

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About half a decade ago, we were all in an uproar and chanting, “Lock her up” over a private email server and classified email messages. Now there’s an eerie silence punctuated by cries of “witch hunt” because FBI agents went to Mar-a-Lago and confiscated classified documents that should never have been there.

Is it wrong for athletes to enhance their performance with drugs only if it’s the other team that is caught doing it? Or should we hold everyone to the same standard? And if it’s true for sports, shouldn’t it also be true for things that matter… like national security?

I was once one of the “bottom feeders” who stamped the security classification at the top and bottom of each page of a document and then put that document inside a color-coded folder with large lettering that clearly stated the classification level of that document.

It was a slow process but at least anyone who touched that document knew what they held.

Today, it’s probably all done on secure computers and networks. If so, then many government employees today are faced with what we former computer support personnel called “ID TEN T” problems. These were usually caused by one of two types of people: (1) Those in positions of power who think the rules don’t apply to them and (2) dumb geniuses – people who are incredibly intelligent and gifted in some areas and dumber than rocks in others.

I have some sympathy for Clinton’s private e-mail server work-around even if I do sometimes fantasize about chaining her to a help desk to deal with calls from those who have committed the same immoral sin of bypassing security procedures and are now overwhelmed with “actions have consequences” problems.

I also understand why Trump — who had no background with classified documents when he took office and a seemingly low tolerance for things that got in the way of “getting stuff done” — ignored normal security measures.

But it’s highly unlikely Trump packed and carried these boxes out of the White House himself and whoever is responsible needs to have a good, long talk with those charged with safeguarding our national security.

And it’s not “just” a matter of classified documents.

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 is a law that established what was public and what was private in terms of presidential records.

President Nixon disagreed with the handling of his papers when he left office and he took the matter to the Supreme Court. They ruled certain papers belonged to the public, not to him, and Nixon accepted that ruling.

While Trump has pointed out quite correctly that Obama took documents when he left office, he omitted one important detail: Obama transferred ownership of those papers to the National Archives. Those documents went to a government facility and archivists sorted through them before forwarding some documents to Obama’s presidential library.

Whoever was in charge of Trump’s move from White House to Mar-a-Lago should have followed the same protocol and whether they were clueless or had malevolent intents, the result is still the same: It’s widened the political divide in our country as everyone rushes to justify the unjustifiable.

“My country, right or wrong,” has somehow morphed into “I must defend ‘our guy’ no matter what he or she does.”

How much better would our country be if we criticized rather than cheered our leaders when they make inflammatory statements or “tweak the truth” to incite the crowd? If we walked away when they encouraged outrage rather than cooperation? If we took down our “message” flags, removed our bumper stickers, and stopped walking around looking like NASCAR drivers promoting their sponsors?

Do you think that maybe if we did at least some of this, we might start feeling more like the old United States of America again and a little less like we’re preparing for Civil War, the Sequel?

Could we at least try?

A lifelong resident of Hancock County, Linda Dunn is an author and retired Department of Defense employee. Send comments to [email protected]

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