As frequent readers of this Web log know, I have pretty good security at my office in Washington DC. This includes a SCIF-rated environment, which is accessible by a door to the left of, and behind my desk. It opens onto a corridor where the SCIF clone is accessible through one of several doors there. The door to the SCIF environment itself is controlled by a physical lock system and the key is kept in a storage box hidden inside my office safe; and that box can only be opened by a twelve character alphanumeric code. As I’ve mentioned before, the SCIF itself is completely isolated, including being surrounded by a Faraday cage, having no external electrical or optical connections, and is equipped with extremely effective sound insulation. I’ve also recently added a white noise generator that, whenever the key lock box is opened, fills the corridor with something that sounds like a cross between old fashioned television static and standing underneath Niagara Falls.
It gets a fair amount of use by clients of many varieties – which is why I say it’s a SCIF-rated environment rather that a SCIF per se. Because technically, a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility can only be used by persons having US security clearances (unless a special waiver is granted for appropriately cleared individuals from certain US allies), and in the case of true SCI, that is, as defined by US law, only if they have a need to know that information. I could have said that room in my office is equivalent to a Special Access Program Facility, too – used by the Defense Department, they are built to the same specifications as SCIFs. And SCI, by the way, is classified information concerning or derived from intelligence sources, methods, or analytical processes, which is required to be handled within formal access control systems – such as never being examined or discussed outside a SCIF or SAPF. These are examples of the rather extensive list of specific things about handling classified information that even the lowliest GS-5 or E-2 who deals with the stuff is required know, under penalty of federal laws, and some mighty strict ones, no doubt about it. Federal judges handing out penalties involving misuse of classified information toss off ten and twenty year sentences like short order cooks slinging plates of ham and eggs – and those are without the possibility of parole, ’cause Uncle Sam don’t play that.
My point being, practically everybody in Washington who is even remotely connected with what the federal government does knows the rules about handling classified information and the associated consequences of violating them. Which made the VOIP call I received over an end-to-end SRTP encrypted WhatsApp connection today all the more ironic.
It started around nine in the morning with someone buzzing Gretchen on her desktop WhatsApp instance requesting a secure initial free consultation with me ASAP. After about an hour of back-and-forth text messages, she had an appointment set up for the early afternoon, sandwiched in between a couple of live consultations, one of which had about a half an hour shaved off at the last minute. When the time came, and the VOIP session started, I experienced that irony to which I just referred – it was Eric F. Trump, the son of one Donald J. Trump, a private US citizen who was recently caught, allegedly, with multiple boxes of hard copy SCI, among other types of classified documents, in the basement of his private residence, Mar-a-Lago, the former estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post on Palm Beach Island, Florida. (Reports that Ms. Post rolled over in her grave when the FBI raided the place proved incorrect – the fact is, she started spinning and has yet to stop.)
Eric: Hello? Tom Collins?
Tom: This is he. How can I help you, Mr. Trump?
Eric: Call me Eric. All my friends do.
Tom: You actually have friends?
Eric: Well, uh, sure I do.
Tom: Name some.
Eric: Huh? Um… there’s Lara…
Tom: Lara Yunaska?
Tom: She’s your wife. Name a friend.
Eric: There’s DJ.
Tom: Donald Trump Jr.?
Tom: He’s your brother. Name a friend.
Eric: Well, ah, there’s Alan.
Tom: Alan who?
Eric: Alan Futerfas.
Tom: He’s your lawyer. Name a friend.
Eric: Okay, then, there’s Amanda.
Tom: Amanda Miller?
Tom: She’s your employee. Name a friend.
Eric: All right, all right! Maybe I don’t have any friends! But all those people call me Eric, okay? And you can call me Eric, too!
Tom: Okay. So – what’s up, Eric?
Eric: Um… this is free, right?
Tom: This is your first consultation and therefore, it is free of charge, yes.
Eric: And you’re not worried about me getting free advice that you usually charge a lot of money for?
Tom: Not at all, especially since you are a Trump.
Eric: What’s that supposed to mean?
Tom: It means I wouldn’t expect a Trump to pay me.
Eric: What? How can you say that about my family?
Tom: Your father’s payment history is a matter of record. I know from that, if this was a consultation for a fee, and I sent him an invoice, there’s a significant probability that he wouldn’t pay it. He might, but I would definitely not count on it.
Eric: You don’t actually know that about me, though, do you?
Tom: I don’t have to, because your father’s reputation precedes you: that’s the way he does business; like father, like son. So forget about the money – what do you want?
Eric: I suspect there is somebody inside the Trump Organization who is disloyal.
Tom: What makes you think so?
Eric: Because of what happened with the FBI coming to Mar-a-Lago and searching the place like a bunch of Gestapo guys.
Tom: The way sane people in America heard it, Eric, is that your father took a large number of documents, many of them classified, and some of them very highly classified, with him when he left the White House. And when the National Archives asked him to return them, he failed to do so. After which the Justice Department got involved and demanded that he return them as provided by law. And then, when your father only returned a fraction of them, and someone close to him contacted the FBI to let them know that there were documents like that still being held at Mar-a-Lago, the FBI sent some agents to get them. They went there during the day, dressed in civilian clothes, maintaining a low profile, and searched the place, finding more than a dozen boxes of material, some of it, as advertised, being very highly classified.
Eric: That’s all lies! Justice Department Gestapo lies! The FBI planted those documents because Joe Biden told them to!
Tom: Joe Biden found about the FBI’s visit to Mar-a-Lago the same way I did – the same way everybody in the United States not involved in the investigation did – on the news. As expected, the President had no prior knowledge of this Justice Department action, just as the President has had no prior knowledge of any other Justice Department actions. And it’s absolutely absurd to suggest that the FBI planted those documents. You know what it sounds like when you and your father go around saying that?
Eric: It’s sounds like patriots raising the alarm against tyranny!
Tom: No it doesn’t – it sounds like some dope dealer who got caught red-handed with a kilo of heroin trying to convince the judge that the police put it in the trunk of his car, that’s what it sounds like.
Eric: Does not!
Tom: Does too.
Eric: Does not!
Tom: Does too. And it’s pretty obvious to any objective observer what happened – somebody in the Trump Organization ratted your father out to the feds, just like some mafia hoodlum ratting out his capo. They called the feds up and told them he was hiding those documents in a basement room at Mar-a-Lago. And once the FBI had heard that, what else could they do? They had to go and get them. It would be a dereliction of their sworn duty if they didn’t. They went to a judge, they got a warrant – they did everything by the book: according to federal regulations, according to legal best practice and according to the law – three things it’s pretty obvious your father knows absolutely nothing about and cares less.
Eric: What makes you think that?
Tom: Duh! Because he had a stack of boxes full of classified federal government documents his basement, maybe? How much more proof do you need?
Eric: He did not! The FBI planted those boxes! Every single one of them!
Tom: If you are going to spend your entire consultation insisting on that, let’s go with it so we can make some progress, at least. So okay, suppose the FBI planted all that evidence. That means there doesn’t have to be anyone in the Trump Organization who’s a disloyal fink, right? If the FBI cooked up this whole thing on their own, then everyone in the Trump Organization could be completely loyal to The Donald, couldn’t they?
Eric: No, no! We’re positive that somebody called the FBI.
Tom: And told them what?
Eric: About the boxes of secret documents in the basement!
Tom: But there weren’t any.
Eric: There… weren’t?
Tom: Well, no. At least that’s your story, right? You say the FBI planted the boxes in your father’s basement.
Eric: Oh. Right. Yeah. They did.
Tom: So why are you looking for someone in the Trump Organization who is disloyal?
Eric: Because, uh… because my father says there’s a mole in the organization.
Tom: So I’ve heard. He’s been raving about that, saying there’s a mole who betrayed him. Which I don’t quite understand, since he also claims, as you insist, that the FBI planted the secret documents on him. So how does your Dad figure this? On one hand, there’s a mole, and on the other, the FBI planted the evidence. What makes him think there’s a mole? After all, if what you say is true, there doesn’t have to be one, does there?
Eric: All I know is he’s looking for the mole that betrayed him with this, uh… secret documents he took from the White House thing… and he wants me to find out who it is!
Tom: But he didn’t take any secret document from the White House.
Eric: He didn’t?
Tom: You say the FBI planted them.
Eric: Oh, yeah. They did!
Tom: So to avoid going around in circles any further, how about you tell me what it is you think your father thinks this mole did to him?
Eric: Uh, uh, um… I… uh… um…
Tom: Well, the only thing I can think of is that your Dad must believe that this mole in his organization must have contacted the FBI and talked them into planting multiple boxes of highly classified documents in the basement at Mar-a-Lago.
Eric: Ah… you think so?
Tom: It’s the only explanation that makes any logical sense whatsoever.
Eric: Oh, okay, then I guess that must be why he’s looking for a mole. So how do we find them?
Tom: Well, as Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Eric: Gee, that sounds really smart. What does it mean?
Tom: In this situation it means: Number One, as I said, the mole must be someone clever enough to talk the FBI into planting evidence to incriminate your father at Mar-a-Lago; Number Two, not everyone in his inner circle is clever enough to do that; and, Number Three, therefore, we can narrow down the list of suspects to the people who are. It’s a process of elimination. And the first person we can eliminate is you.
Eric: Wow, that’s a relief… hey, wait a minute! Are you saying I’m too stupid to talk the FBI into planting evidence?
Tom: Way too stupid. So relax – you’re in the clear.
Eric: I am not too stupid to talk the FBI into planting evidence!
Tom: Oh, really? Tell me then, how would you do it?
Eric: Ah… um… er… uh… oh, ow! Okay, so maybe I can’t think of how to do that. It’s hard to think of how! Ouch!
Tom: What’s the matter?
Eric: My head hurts. Happens every time I think too much.
Tom: My condolences. So anyway, you’re eliminated. Now, if it doesn’t cause you more pain than you can stand, try thinking of some people close to your Dad who actually are clever enough to talk the FBI into planting evidence to incriminate him.
Eric: Okay, I’ll try… ow! Ouch! [sucks teeth] [groans] Ow! [labored breathing] Oh! Ow… Ivanka! Ow! Ugh! [sucks teeth] [labored breathing]… Ow! Uh… uh… Jared! Ah, ah, ah… that’s all… ow! That’s all… I… can think... of. Ow!
Tom: Okay, you can stop now.
Eric: Uh… uh… [labored breathing] [sighs]… Christ Almighty, my head… You do this thinking stuff for a living?
Tom: Yes, but it doesn’t hurt when I do it.
Eric: Must be nice.
Tom: If you start doing it when you’re young, it becomes completely painless.
Eric: Nobody ever made me think when I was young.
Tom: Generally speaking, people aren’t made to think – they do it naturally. I’d say your condition is most likely an inherited family trait you got from your father.
Eric: So what can I do about it?
Tom: Try not to think about it too much.
Eric: All right. So the mole is either Ivanka or Jared?
Tom: Well, speaking of thinking, I think I’ve made my point, haven’t I?
Eric: What do you mean?
Tom: Neither Ivanka nor Jared have a motive. As a matter of fact, under your theory of the crime, they have the opposite of motive – they have exculpatory circumstance: if your father goes to prison, they go to prison. Which brings us to Number Four: the statement, “The FBI planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago” is false.
Eric: Huh? How the hell did we get there?
Tom: By the logical syllogism of indirect proof, otherwise known as reductio ad absurdum. We deduced, given that the person who betrayed your father talked the FBI into planting evidence, the only two possible suspects are individuals with no motive to do so. Ergo, the FBI did not plant any evidence. But you knew that already, didn’t you? Come on, ‘fess up, Eric – your father took those documents out of the White House and put them in the basement at Mar-a-Lago, didn’t he?
Eric: Aw… shucks… you got me, I guess. Yeah, he did. But don’t tell anybody, okay?
Tom: No problem. But see here, Eric – your Dad has to get a grip, or all that compulsive lying of his is going to end up incriminating him. Remember, “A fool with a secret yells like a girl in labor.”
Eric: Huh? Who said that?
Tom: It’s from the Old Testament.
Eric: The what?
Tom: The part of the Bible without Jesus in it.
Eric: There’s a part of the Bible without Jesus?
Tom: Yes. Quite a bit of it, actually. You could ask Jared to tell you about it sometime. Look, Eric, I know your father attended Norman Vincent Peale’s congregation at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, where the Bible was more or less optional reading after The Power of Positive Thinking, which was the actual gospel Peale preached there to the monied elites, who, like your grandfather, sought to justify their callous greed with something resembling a religion. And that is very unfortunate, because your father’s interpretation of Peale’s philosophy is apparently that imagining what you want makes it happen. But if your Dad were to pick up a Bible and read it – a very unlikely thing, I know, but if he did – he would find that aphorism, which is also an ancient Jewish proverb, albeit expressed with a more quaint and archaic form of English, in Chapter 19, Verses 11 and 12 of the Book of Ecclesiasticus.
Eric: What’s it mean?
Tom: In this context, it means the louder he protests, the more guilty he appears. If you can get him to listen to you, remind him that in Washington, more often than not, it isn’t the crime that gets you, it’s the coverup. So, just like the Justice Department says, somebody close to Trump tipped them off about it, right?
Eric: Ah, yeah, they did. And my Dad wants me to figure out who it was. Don’t say anything about that either!
Tom: Okay, now that we’ve established the truth, have you thought about what’s in those documents?
Eric: Uh, no, like I said, it hurts when I think.
Tom: Of course. Well, let me do some thinking for you. Like various other Beltway insiders, I happen to be aware of what’s in those documents – things that will never come to light in the media or ever be known to the general public. And let me assure you, what’s in those documents is the key to figuring out who the Trump mole is.
Eric: So… what’s in those documents?
Tom: First of all, there’s a boatload of stuff about Trump’s dealings with the Russians, including [Redacted by CIA] and [Redacted by DIA], as well as [Redacted by US State Department] and [Redacted by NSA] covering various deals concerning [Redacted by ODNI] and plenty of [Redacted by DEA] from [Redacted by FBI]. And there’s scads of information about [Redacted by DHS] and that border wall thing of his, not to mention [Redacted by US Border Patrol] immigrant children in [Redacted by ICE] and the [Reacted by INS]. And there is also plenty about those deals with the Taliban in Afghanistan pertaining to [Redacted by Marine Corps Intelligence] and [Redacted by ONI] in exchange for [Redacted by INSCOM] and [Redacted by IRS]. And, of course, the North Koreans, when he [Reacted by CIA] and spoke with [Redacted by DNI] about Kim Jong-un’s [Redacted by US State Department]. And of course there’s plenty on Trump and China, including [Redacted by CIA] and agreements to [Redacted by SEC] [Redacted by FBI] in exchange for [Redacted by ICE] and [Redacted by FDA] for [Redacted by DEA] so he could [Redacted by IRS] and all kinds of other juicy items like that. And there’s also a lot of material about the January 6 insurrection…
Eric: That was a nothing but the tourist visits of well-meaning patriots concerned about an election stolen by the Democrats!
Tom: All right, the January 6, 2021 tourist visits; and the communications between your Dad and [Redacted by DOJ], [Redacted by US Federal Circuit Court] [Redacted by DIA], and [Redacted by IRS] discussing [Redacted by FBI] [Redacted by NCIS] and [Redacted by DHS] to [Redacted by US Secret Service] and so forth. But I think most interesting of all is the Sensitive Compartmented Information about the January 7 Extraordinary Communiqué.
Eric: The January 7 what?
Tom: It’s an official communication from [Redacted by NRO] concerning your Dad, actually.
Eric: The what!
Tom: The [Redacted by NSC] [Redacted by NRO]. On January 7, 2021, they sent a delegation of [Redacted by NASA] to [Redacted by NGIA] with [Reacted by USNI] in flying tic-tacs.
Eric: Flying tic-tacs?
Tom: You haven’t heard of those? They’re [Redacted by AFISRA] [Redacted by ONI] and [Redacted by ODNI][Redacted by NSC]. The [Redacted by NSC] [Redacted by US State Department] ambassador, delivered the January 7 Extraordinary Communiqué to the US [Redacted by CIA]. It pertains to what will happen if your father becomes President of the United States again.
Eric: He’s already the President of the United States right now!
Tom: I’m talking about the person in the White House today, August 15, 2022, who is the commander-in-chief of US armed forces and head of the Executive Branch of the United States federal government, not some demented victim of his own illusions of grandeur squatting in a mansion in Florida; and that person in the White House is named Joe Biden, no matter how much Fox News says otherwise.
Eric: Is not!
Tom: Is too.
Eric: Is not!
Tom: Whatever, Eric. As I was saying, the January 7 Extraordinary Communiqué clearly states, in fifty-five languages, that if your father becomes President of the United States again – in the sense that I just described, which means in real reality, not in some MAGA fever-dream alternative reality – they’re going to give up on the human race entirely and [Redacted by DOE] [Redacted by CDC] [Redacted by NOAA] [Redacted by USGS] [Redacted by NRC] [Redacted by NIH] [Redacted by FEMA] [Redacted by US Treasury] [Redacted by US Federal Reserve] [Redacted by DIA] [Redacted by ONI] [Redacted by ODNI] [Redacted by NSA] [Redacted by NSC] [Redacted by CIA] [Redacted by FBI] [Redacted by NASA] [Redacted by US Cyber Command] [Redacted by 16 AF INTEL] [Redacted by AFIC] [Redacted by AFISRA] [Redacted by US Space Force].
Eric: They can do that?
Tom: Yep. Every single apocalyptic bit of it, including [Redacted by NSC] all while keeping the planet’s ecosystems intact – and they explicitly state that no other species will become extinct. I’ve seen the technical studies that the people from [Redacted by CIA] did, and [Redacted by ODNI], so it’s absolutely certain that these guys, or whatever they are, definitely aren’t kidding.
Eric: And they would do that?
Tom: In a heartbeat. Those of them that have hearts, that is. As it says in the January 7 Extraordinary Communiqué, those big-eyed [Redacted by ODNI] agonized about it a bit because they’re sentimentally attached to us, like we’re cute creatures in their back yard or something, and the [Redacted by ODNI] argued for more time, since they’ve been working on saving us from ourselves for the last fifteen thousand years, but the [Redacted by ODNI] are ready to throw their scaly hands up as far as we’re concerned. I guess that should be talons, actually. Anyway, their point of view prevailed. The other [Redacted by NASA] members of the [Redacted by US State Department] are all over the star map, as it were, but the decision is clear. And it’s also obvious why your father took that particular document with him when he left the White House.
Eric: Why? I don’t understand.
Tom: Well, given his thorough indoctrination in your grandfather’s warped interpretation of Norman Vincent Peale’s philosophy, your father is the King of Denial. In his mind, if he has the January 7 Extraordinary Communiqué stuffed in a box in his basement, it doesn’t exist. He can become President again and play commander-in-chief again, be chief federal executive again, and listen to “Hail to the Chief” all day long again and be Big Chief Donald again, powerful and happy, taking revenge on his enemies real or imagined, and amusing himself by firing people in humiliating ways, just like he did before; and none of those things mentioned in that document will happen.
Eric: Um…. should I be worried about this?
Tom: If you like. Want to know who the mole is now?
Eric: Actually, I think I better go talk to my Dad about this January 7 Extra… ordinary Comm… Commun… Communica…
Eric: Yeah – that thing – first.
Tom: Okay – tell you what: you do that. And if you call me again before six-thirty tonight, it will still be free of charge.
Eric: Oh, okay, great! I’ll get right back to you after I’ve had a talk with Dad.
Tom: Very good. ‘Bye now. Talk to you soon.
Eric: Thanks! Oh! Hold on a minute!
Eric: Aren’t you worried about what the [Redacted by NASA] will do if my father becomes President again?
Tom: Not particularly. I figure if that happens, we all deserve what we’re going to get.
Eric: Oh. I see. Right, then, I’ll call you back.
Tom: Okay. ‘Bye.