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Op/ed: White House Needs to Go Digital With Its Docs

Mishandling of Classified Papers in Biden, Trump Homes Shows Difficulty Tracking So Much Hard Copy

By Beth Sanner

access road to President Joe Biden's home in Wilmington, Del.

The FBI takes possession of papers with classified markings on Jan. 13 from President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., a problem that a UMD professor of the practice at UMD's Applied Research Lab for Intelligence and Security said could be curbed by replacing paper with digitized documents.

Photo by AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

The Justice Department discovered six more classified documents from President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., on Friday, expanding its investigation into the handling of sensitive information and coming months after taking a trove of unsecured classified material from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

Beth Sanner, a former deputy director of national intelligence for mission integration, and now a professor of the practice at the University of Maryland’s Applied Research Lab for Intelligence and Security, suggests these probes have exposed the challenges of tracking the sheer amount of paper classified documents in circulation.

Sanner, who is also a CNN national security analyst, writes in a new CNN opinion piece that it’s time for the White House to ditch hard copies for digital classified documents.

The mountain of classified material flowing around the White House—and other national security agencies and departments—presents an inherent vulnerability no amount of finger-pointing or procedural reform will solve. As a former White House National Security Council staffer, I can attest to the fact there has never been an airtight, centralized process to track this paperwork. Nor would any such effort be effective.

Paper moves, and in most cases, no one knows it is missing unless or until it is found.

Read the rest of the essay at



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