August 12, 2022 -Durt Fibo


The usual actions of Donald Trump are as impossible for others to follow as swarms of flying monkeys cramming each minute full of occluding chaos. The media’s sudden recollection that Trump himself increased the penalties for absconding with classified material –and elevating it to a felony– in 2018, was, as usual, broadcast with paltry particulars. Since facts and backgrounds might someday educate the American public, I’ll try to give them a little push forward.

Firstly, the thing Trump signed was a stand-alone issue, not just one of many matters woven into a larger bill, so this weakens the excuse that he might not have read it. It is, however, only 20 pages. Most of the space on those pages are short lines amending lines, or even single words, of the previous law (S. 139, “FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017). Naturally, he might not have read those 20 pages. However, after signing his favorite name with a sharpie flourish, Trump dictated and released an official 2-page statement of self-congratulation (DCPD Number: DCPD201800040. “Subjects: Defense and national security : Electronic surveillance program; Defense and national security : Intelligence; Justice, Department of : Bureau of Investigation, Federal; Legislation, enacted : FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017; Terrorism : Counterterrorism efforts; Terrorism : Global threat.”), which he ended by saying: “I would have preferred a permanent reauthorization of Title VII to protect the safety and security of the Nation. By signing this Act today, however, I am ensuring that this lawful and essential intelligence program will continue to protect Americans for at least the next 6 years. We cannot let our guard down in the face of foreign threats to our safety, our freedom, and our way of life.”

The “Title VII” Trump refers to is Title VII of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which gives US agencies the power to do exactly what I says in the title. Oddly, it also codifies that “Within this framework, NO acquisition may intentionally target a U.S. person. here or abroad. or any other person known to be in the United States. The law requires special procedures designed to ensure that all such acquisitions target only non-U.S. persons outside the United States, and to protect the privacy of U.S. persons whose nonpublic information may be incidentally acquired.”

Yet since it’s inception and though each renewal, updating and amending, there has always been one specific exception that DOES lock US citizens, wherever they might be, into the jurisdiction of that law. Trump’s transgressions and the stipulated penalties are spelled out below, where I have quoted them as they appear in the most recent versions, IE., the updated/amended law he signed in 2018. I’ve retained the necessary context, but for ease of comprehension before the key lines I have written [HERE:] in capitals and brackets.

132 STAT. 8 PUBLIC LAW 115–118—JAN. 19, 2018

(a) END USE RESTRICTION.—Section 706(a) (50 U.S.C. 1881e(a))
is amended—
(1) by striking ‘‘Information acquired’’ and inserting the
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Information acquired’’; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—Any information concerning a
United States person acquired under section 702 shall not
be used in evidence against that United States person
pursuant to paragraph (1) in any criminal proceeding
‘‘(i) the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained
an order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
to access such information pursuant to section 702(f)(2);
[HERE:]‘‘(ii) the Attorney General determines that—
[HERE:]‘‘(I) the criminal proceeding affects, involves,
or is related to the national security of the United
States; or
‘‘(II)) the criminal proceeding involves—
‘‘(aa) death;
‘‘(bb) kidnapping;
‘‘(cc) serious bodily injury, as defined in section 1365 of title 18, United States Code; ‘‘(dd) conduct that constitutes a criminal offense that is a specified offense against a minor, as defined in section 111 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (34 U.S.C. 20911); ‘‘(ee) incapacitation or destruction of critical infrastructure, as defined in section 1016(e) of the USA PATRIOT Act (42 U.S.C. 5195c(e)); ‘‘(ff) cybersecurity, including conduct described in section 1016(e) of the USA PATRIOT Act (42 U.S.C. 5195c(e)) or section 1029, 1030, or 2511 of title 18, United States Code; ‘‘(g g) transnational crime, including transnational narcotics trafficking and transnational organized crime; or ‘‘(hh) human trafficking.

Section 1924(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended
by striking ‘‘one year’’ and inserting ‘‘five years’’.

Separately, in the US criminal code, the penalty section referred to is HERE [at bottom one can see the history of the codes, updates and amendments] :

18 U.S. Code § 1924 – Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material
[HERE:] Whoever, being an officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract, becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both.
For purposes of this section, the provision of documents and materials to the Congress shall not constitute an offense under subsection (a).
In this section, the term “classified information of the United States” means information originated, owned, or possessed by the United States Government concerning the national defense or foreign relations of the United States that has been determined pursuant to law or Executive order to require protection against unauthorized disclosure in the interests of national security.
(Added Pub. L. 103–359, title VIII, § 808(a), Oct. 14, 1994, 108 Stat. 3453; amended Pub. L. 107–273, div. B, title IV, § 4002(d)(1)(C)(i), Nov. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 1809; Pub. L. 115–118, title II, § 202, Jan. 19, 2018, 132 Stat. 19.)