American Justice Notebook

"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost." — Thomas Jefferson

JUST SAYING: Mar-a-Lago Boxes, and the Navy’s Top Secrets in Bank Lockbox in 2010 for 18 Months — Ooops

JUST SAYING

BY RAUL HERNANDEZ

 

The FBI executed search warrants on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago this week and walked away with more than a dozen boxes of classified documents. 

As this story flooded the airwaves, I recalled the time I had front-row seats in the mishandling of Secret and Top Secret documents by the U.S. Navy in California.

The Navy’s Top Secrets ended up in a lockbox in Ventura, California lockbox for 18 months after they were accidentally sent to a lawyer.

2010 Photo of Jack Futoran

That was in 2010. And I was working as a newspaper reporter with the Ventura County Star.

A source, Ventura Attorney Jack Futoran, called. He asked if I was interested in a story about how he accidentally got classified documents from the Navy, including a list of Social Security numbers, employees’ names, and other personal, identifying information.

Jack said the letter arrived in a package 

at his office in Ventura. 

The package contained the investigative report he had requested about his client Gary Biggers, a then federal security manager.

But to his surprise, some photocopied documents were marked “Top Secret” and “Secret.”

“These people deal with some extremely sensitive stuff,” Futoran said in 2010. “I immediately closed that (document),” and he told his client Gary Biggers, “You can’t have this. I can’t have this.”

Accused of not following Navy rules, Biggers, of Ventura, was suspended as a Security Manager for the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center at Port Hueneme in 2008 after ten months on the job, according to Futoran.

Biggers was put on administrative leave without pay.

Those moves upset Biggers, who told his superiors it was unfair to blame him for violations that had existed “for years.” 

Biggers said in an interview that he was being made a scapegoat for what he conceded were serious security violations and a “horrible mess.”

An official 2008 Navy report related to his case became public, revealing a list of security lapses that the report’s author called “lax” and “dangerous.” 

The unclassified report strongly recommended that at least three employees, including Biggers, be stripped of their security clearances.

In an interview in 2010, Biggers said security violations occurred there for years, long before he was given the job of security manager in 2007 after a brief training period.

“I was dumbfounded when they accused me of this,” he said. “No one can correct 20 years of neglect in eight months.”

Futoran said he immediately called Navy officials to pick up the classified material accidentally sent to his office. 

But for 18 months, despite letters and calls, nobody showed up to get them, he said in 2010.

Sadly, Biggers had to rent a safe deposit box at a Ventura bank for $75 a year to store the documents, according to Futoran.

After I started asking questions, the Navy became tight-lipped. The no comments soon rained down. I later wrote about this in my 2015 column, Just Saying, published on my website: www.cjnotebook.com.

Five years after the Navy’s screwup, Hillary Clinton was accused of mishandling her emails. Those allegations were proven to be untrue. In addition, in 2015, Chinese hackers stole the names of 22 million employees, Social Security numbers, and other personal information from federal computers.

In 2010, the Navy 2010 never said a word about the classified document “accident” and why classified documents stayed in a Ventura bank for 18 months.

“I am not commenting on any of it,” Darrell Waller, spokesman for the engineering center, had said.

I wrote that Waller cited ongoing litigation and personnel issues as reasons for not commenting on the report or the secrets or employee list.

But before The Star published the story in 2010, Navy security officials showed up at the newsroom. 

They politely asked to talk to the Ventura County Star editors, the managers, and myself. They were very concerned about whether we had copies of Navy classified information.

To Read 2010 Story in the Ventura County Star Click Here:  VC STAR

No, I said with a smile.

They were polite.

I asked why they didn’t pick up the classified information and list when Jack Futoran called the base right after he got the package. 

No comment.

Why were the Navy’s classified documents in a security box in a Ventura bank for 18 months? What about Biggers allegations that this mishandling of Top Secrets and Secrets had existed “for years”?

No comment.

What about Navy security training on the base?

No comment.  

I asked a few more questions. No comment, citing, again, the ongoing investigation.

The less they spoke, the more my built-in B.S. detector that served me well for three decades as a newspaper reporter went haywire. I knew the boys operating America’s nuclear aircraft carriers, and submarines were in CYA mode but did appear to be very concerned.

This week at Mar-a-Lago, the FBI seized more boxes with classified documents that Trump took home.

The feds are saying very little. Trump is furious, calling the incident a “raid” at his home. 

Hillary’s Emails, Navy Classified Information and Jack’s Jaw-Dropping Package