There are many unanswered questions that follow on the news that classified documents have been found in unsecured locations in Washington D.C. and Wilmington, Delaware, where they were taken by aides to then-Vice President Biden at the end of his eight years in office.
But they are not the questions over which Biden’s Republican opponents are howling and the corporate media is obsessing.
The important issues, which the media avoids raising, include the following: What is in these documents? Why are there so many secrets? And who is the US government keeping the secrets from?
Many of the documents that receive the highest classification—Top Secret, or Sensitive Compartmented Information—relate to the foreign policy of the United States. In other words, they concern the abominable crimes being carried out by US imperialism all over the world.
Let us suggest some possible subjects these documents might cover:
The role of the US-allied Saudi government in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, carried out by the Al Qaeda organization founded by the Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden. Most of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, and several were receiving financial support from the Saudi regime at the time of 9/11.
The US role in the 2014 regime-change operation in Ukraine that overthrew an elected government and installed a far-right, anti-Russian regime, riddled with neo-Nazis, and set the stage for the outbreak of war with Russia in Ukraine eight years later.
What the United States is doing in relation to Taiwan in an effort to provoke a Chinese invasion, based on the example of Russia and Ukraine, which would become the pretext for an all-out US-led war against the Beijing regime.
US plans for regime-change through economic strangulation, internal subversion and outright war in Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea and other countries targeted by American imperialism.
Conversely, US plans to intervene to prop up reactionary authoritarian governments like the Saudi monarchy and other Persian Gulf autocracies, the bloodstained Egyptian military dictatorship, the Hindu chauvinist government of Narendra Modi in India and similar governments in Latin America and Africa.
In pursuit of any or all of these goals, plans for CIA assassinations and other covert operations in virtually every country in the world.
President Joe Biden epitomizes the fusion of the state and the individual, to the extent that he hardly knows where one ends and the other begins. He was a senator for 36 years, elected to his first term at the age of only 29. He spent much of that time on the Foreign Relations Committee, either as chairman or ranking minority member, giving him access to many such secret plans. He was then vice president for eight years, with a portfolio that included Latin America and Ukraine.
It is likely that when his eight years in the Obama administration came to an end, he had so many thousands of pages of classified documents in his possession that it was easy for aides to miss a few. A handful of press reports suggest that some of them concern Ukraine and Iran, two of the most sensitive areas of US subversion.
Nor are Top Secret papers limited to foreign policy. It is noteworthy that last month the National Archives released a tranche of documents relating to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, with significant redactions and with many documents withheld at the request of the intelligence agencies.
In other words, 60 years after the Kennedy assassination, the CIA still refuses to come clean about its ties with the supposed assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine who moved to the USSR at the height of the Cold War, married a Russian woman, then returned to the United States and joined the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a group purportedly opposed to the US blockade that was manipulated by the US intelligence agencies.
As far as the political impact of the revelations is concerned, the Democratic Party is hoist with its own petard. While Trump was in office, it focused its attacks on him on foreign policy, suggesting that he was an agent or stooge of the Putin regime in Russia. After Trump left office, it focused its opposition to Trump on his possession of Top Secret papers at Mar-a-Lago, and Biden himself banged the “damage to national security” drum in an interview with 60 Minutes.
The president’s Republican critics have used the revelations not just to undermine Biden politically, but to foment anti-Chinese sentiment. They hint darkly that Chinese spies could have had access to the unsecured documents and demand detailed visitors’ lists for the Penn Biden Center in Washington, Biden’s home in Wilmington and even his garage.
The hypocrisy here is obvious, since these same warriors for transparency opposed the release of visitors’ logs to the Trump White House, after Trump broke with the longstanding practice of public disclosure.
There is cynicism, hypocrisy and reaction aplenty on both sides, as is characteristic of disputes within the US ruling elite.
But if there is a crime in these stories, it is not the endangering of secrets. It is the existence of them. The real victim of the crime is the American people—and the populations of the world targeted by US imperialism—not Biden, Trump or the massive military-intelligence apparatus.
Biden is the leader of a supposedly democratic government that is buried in secrets, many of which are known to other governments in the world, but are not made known to the American people. As far as the US ruling class is concerned, the American people must be kept in the dark about how US wars are prepared and what the trillion dollars in annual US military-intelligence spending is really buying. It fears that if the American people knew what crimes were being carried out, they would rise up in anger and outrage.
That is why a courageous exposer of secrets like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being held in a British dungeon on a US extradition warrant: his “crime” was to make public evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, records of torture at Guantanamo Bay, diplomatic cables documenting conspiracies to subvert and bully governments around the world, and CIA techniques for hacking and surveillance.
The American corporate media has turned the Biden documents affair into a further justification for suppressing secrets and keeping the American people ignorant of what is being done in their name.
The World Socialist Web Site will not join in this campaign. We base ourselves on the tradition of the Bolshevik Party. When the working class took power in the 1917 October Revolution, one of the first actions of the new government was to publish the secret diplomatic agreements of the Tsarist regime, in which the world was to be carved up among the imperialist powers. That is how the international working class must be defended against the provocations of world imperialism.