More Neeping About Trump’s Stolen Secret Docs

The legend of the Mar A Lago documents has blossomed like some kind of strange weed, with tendrils everywhere. And, it just seems more stupid the closer I look at it.

To me, the whole thing has become emblematic of a certain part of the Washington insider class, who seem as though they’d rather die than admit to making a mistake. The guys who kept the US war criming in Vietnam, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, rather than admitting that it was all a mistake. The guys who had huge arguments about the meaning of “quagmire” on television, in a futile effort to deflect the something or other. What blows my mind is that they don’t realize that today’s media landscape is so oversaturated with stupidity that they could just shrug and say, “Sure, I did that. Sorry. Can we move on?” and that’s exactly what would happen. The whole thing is so stupid it would simply bounce off and eventually it’d swirl down the memory hole and be forgotten. We’ve completely forgotten far more important things – all it takes is a simple apology and some mumbled pablum about “I did not live up to my self-image but now I am ready to move on.” Look at how Biden’s people, and Pence’s people, and Pescatore’s people handled it: “oh, oops, well, here are your docs and please let us know if you think we missed any more, bye now.” There’s a weird relationship to this particular issue, namely that republicans and Trump made such a gigantic deal about Hillary Clinton’s emails that they feel they can’t let go of this one and apologize, and are going to force everyone to make a gigantic deal about Trump’s ‘boxes.’ It’s as if there are bodies hidden in the boxes just waiting to be disclosed, but, still, nobody’d care.

Midjourney AI and mjr: Donald Trump pranking FBI agents with a game of “guess which hand has the cookie?”

Here is a novel defense that would have defused the whole thing: “Oops, well, my personal assistant screwed up and has been terminated. All documents are returned and let’s move on, now. Please don’t bring it up again as part of some ‘witch hunt’ OK, it’s all resolved now.” I don’t think the democrats would have the fortitude to pursue it, and I’m absolutely certain the media would switch to more important stories such as who Elon Musk is impregnating, now, and what racist ideologue wore a cool hat to a horse race in England. It’s as if the Trump team realized that they could bury the incident but, instead, decided to embark on a year-long campaign of trolling the FBI.

The latest movements in the case are, simply put, weird as fuck. Apparently Trump was using the secret documents he stole as ego-stroke pills, bragging about things he knew to guests at his cheesy Mar A Lago tourist spy trap. The latest revelation is that some Australian guest was grabbed by Trump and told a few secrets about US nuclear subs, including (allegedly) the number of warheads one typically carries, and the estimated detection distance that a Russian sub can locate them. If you google “how many warheads can a US Polaris submarine carry” you’ll learn an answer. Is it the answer? Probably, because in principle such things are declared as part of various international agreements. The other detail? Probably irrelevant – the Russians no longer field enough subs to try to pre-empt US ballistic missile boats and a US sub would hear them coming a long way away and be somewhere else in short order. This information is stupid. Of course, Trump is still stupid to disclose it, but it’s painful to watch everyone start screaming about “threats to national security” when we’re talking about information that is accessible through a google search. [What’s more interesting is how far away one of the Swedish or Japanese hybrid Stirling-engined subs could track or follow a US ballistic boat, and we can be pretty confident that test has been made, too: you park silently in the water and listen for when the sub’s commander clangs it into something, apparently.]

We’re going to have to listen to a whole bunch of outraged punditry about the significance of these leaks, but really the only significance that they have is: how stupid they are. Geezus, christ, just drop Trump in an oubliette for being a noisy jackass, already, and save us all from this national nightmare.

The next part that I think is extremely weird is the way everyone is completely accepting the narrative (apparently commonly agreed-upon) that introducing the secret documents as evidence against Trump is hard and requires cleared people and a SCIF, etc. In fact, the entire trial is being held up on that point, thanks to the cooperative Judge Cannon, who is apparently willing to help Trump stall. But none of this makes sense, either. Trump’s team doesn’t need to see the documents; they don’t need clearances – it’s not as if they are going to argue “no, your honor, this one document that says TS/SCI on it is Trump’s McDonald’s order, we move to dismiss!” There are plenty of documents and all that would be necessary would be something like bringing in a witness who can testify that the documents are secret, and – done. I.e.:

Prosecutor: “Please state for the court your name, and job title.”
Witness: “Bond, James Bond, I am an intelligence officer at MI6, on liaison with CIA on behalf of the crown.”
Prosecutor: “I understand that you hold a variety of top secret clearances, including a ‘license to kill’.”
Witness: “That is correct. Though my license does not apply in Washington, DC.” (laughter)
Prosecutor: “Very well. If you look at Exhibits A-Z that are arrayed on the evidence table over there, what is your immediate impression?”
Witness: “I see a bunch of folders marked with classification codes and stickers.”
Prosecutor: “That assessment is based on your experience with classified materials?”
Witness: “In my normal duties, I handle top secret information all the time. I also create it – every report I write is classified. I spend way too much time locking and unlocking safes and signing in and out documents, when I really should be out … you know, killing people.”
Prosecutor: “Since you are cleared for that material, and we have arranged with the site security officer at CIA who owns those documents, for you to be cleared to examine them – would you please go over to the table and take a look at each of the documents in turn. Do not tell the court anything about the contents other than whether or not you assess that it is, in fact, sensitive national security information.”
Witness: (goes over to the table, flips open Exhibit A) “crikey.”
Prosecutor: “Can you translate that to American, please?”
Witness: “Certainly, ‘holy shit.'”
Prosecutor: “What about Exhibit B?”

Midjourney AI and mjr: the witness is “Bond, James Bond…”

It’s not as if the defense would be able to make any kind of relevant argument that somehow the documents were not actually national security information, because the next witness would be:

Prosecutor: “Please state for the court your name, and job title.”
Witness: “My name is withheld under seal. But my job title is ‘Special materials archivist, Central Intelligence Agency.'”
Prosecutor: “Do you know what a SCIF is?”
Witness: (chuckling) “I specify the construction and operation of SCIFs.”

In computer security, there’s a term of art, which is an “oracle” – an oracle is a process that can accurately disclose a single piece of information. If you have an oracle, you can often eventually break the system, but you have to ask it a lot of questions to do so. For example, asking Bond “is that national security information in that folder?” 26 times discloses 26 smallish facts. If someone tries to squeeze too much information out of an oracle, a well-constructed system will shut it down, or rate limit it.

Imagine if there was a murder, and the prosecution introduced the murder weapon (a bloody samurai sword) as evidence. Immediately, the defense (in this case) would insist that they needed to see someone’s head cut off with it, and they needed to train until they were 3rd dan kenjutsu practitioners, before they could accept it as evidence. It completely belies the fact that courts accept evidence that is not complete, all the time. That is, in fact, what courts do, and how they work.

So, that brings me back to the Mar A Lago situation: why is everybody involved in the situation basically playing stupid? Trump’s team have offered nothing but affirmative defenses, so far, basically admitting “yeah, he did it, but…” and it’s so obviously a delay game that pundits are now predicting the Trump team’s next move in terms of ‘what will take longest.’

Everyone knows Trump did it, and everyone knows that mere mortals like Julian Assange, Reality Winner and Chelsea Manning were less flagrant but still wound up in torture conditions at the hands of the government. Let’s all stop flapping our hands and doing a goony bird dance, get the trial going shut up about it.


  1. johnson catman says

    Geezus, christ, just drop Trump in an oubliette for being a noisy jackass, already, and save us all from this national nightmare.

    BEST. IDEA. EVER!!! Of course, there are a few more individuals that should join him in those new quarters. Well, maybe more than a few. Actually, a LOT more than a few.

  2. Jazzlet says

    johnson catman
    I think we might need to make the oubliette deeper, wouldn’t want them climbing on top of each other to get out . . .

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    I thought “Crikey” was Australian, so it is odd hearing it from the very British James Bond.

  4. lochaber says

    I haven’t been following the news too much recently, but I had previously heard someone speculate that the various prosecutors, and maybe some of the judges even, are being very conciliatory towards the defenses demands/requests, in order to minimize grounds for appeal or similar. And more so due to the “respect for the office” or some such shit. Personally, I think people in positions of power, authority, etc., should be held to a higher standard, but, whatevs…

  5. Alan G. Humphrey says

    Does that Bond image resemble a young Hoagy Carmichael due to your hints or is the AI engine letting Fleming’s preference have a strong influence?

  6. Jazzlet says

    Reginald Selkirk @4
    “Crikey” is not heard widely in the UK these days, but was certainly in use here when P G Wodehouse wrote his “Jeeves” books between 1915 and 1930, it being one of Wooster’s expressions when surprised or shocked. Also to be found in the Billy Bunter stories where it was one of his trademark exclamations.

  7. says

    Alan G. Humphrey@#6:
    Does that Bond image resemble a young Hoagy Carmichael due to your hints or is the AI engine letting Fleming’s preference have a strong influence?

    It’s a mix of things. When I asked Midjourney for the image, the first 2 tries returned pictures of Daniel Craig. I don’t have a problem with him, but I have never seen and of his Bond movies, so I don’t think of him as Bond. For me, it’d still be Sean Connery, warts and all.
    I do remember the original description of Bond looking somewhat like Hoagy Charmichael, and I always felt he was describing Victor Sorge indirectly. [posting about that, stderr]

    If I had been on my game I’d have used the original drawing by Fleming:

    as a prompt to Midjourney. Bah, I always have good ideas once it is too late.

  8. says

    “Crikey” is not heard widely in the UK these days, but was certainly in use here when P G Wodehouse wrote his “Jeeves” books between 1915 and 1930, it being one of Wooster’s expressions when surprised or shocked

    I can neither confirm nor deny having read the Wodehouse books, and watched the adaptations with Fry and Laurie.

    A note I feel I should make about Bond, is that there is a subliminal layer of British classism in action, as usual. Bond is decidedly not from the aristocrat-proximal part of British society – but, of course, M and Q and so forth, are. His foes, eg, the many-named Ernst Stavro Blofeld, sound sort of like old European money, or at least Russian oligarch money. Bond, with his fancy cars and bespoke suits and special martinis, comes off as a poseur not because (as he is represented in American Bond culture) he’s classy – but rather he’s adopting the class pose because he’s a working class thug trying to blend in with, and kill, his betters. Notice also that his foes tend to have “diseases of the upper class” namely megalomania, gambling addiction, and a fondness for political skullduggery – Bond is hardly a progressive but he seems to spend a lot of time bringing the upper crustoids into line with the establishments’ mainstream. Uh, I’m just rambling. I always wanted an episode where Bond gets frustrated while he’s murdering some upper class sociopath, and lets slip that he’s a socialist…

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 10: Bond is decidedly not from the aristocrat-proximal part of British society…

    Au contraire, Fleming repeated in several novels that the young Bond had attended Eton – and was expelled “for seducing a maid.”

    (What little I recall of memoirs from English Etonians omits any mention of such servants, but I have to consider that as possible probable class blindness, and a prime example of the absence-of-evidence trope.)

  10. Dunc says

    Also, after his explusion from Eton, Bond went on to Fettes College in Edinburgh, which is another extremely posh (and very expensive) boarding school for the scions of the elite.

    Bond’s presence at Eton is also mentioned in The Avengers: John Steed went to Eton, and was expelled for getting into a fight with a bully – one James Bond.

  11. says

    My model of the Angry Cheeto’s mental processes has him as a sociopathic narcissist. Anything the Cheeto says is good and right and correct; anything that disagrees with something the Cheeto says is evil and wrong and false. And when the Cheeto says something that contradicts something he said earlier, what he’s saying now is good and right and correct, so of course there is no point in dredging up inoperative statements from the dead past. Undesirable consequences are things the little people have to worry about, not anything the Angry Cheeto need concern himself with.

    The Angry Cheeto is not a racist, cuz he regards all human beings other than the Cheeto as objects within his field of view that he can manipulate to achieve his goals.

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