Nope, not classified

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Nope, not classified

Pres­i­dent Trump told Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Duterte that there were two nuclear sub­marines ready to respond to North Korea…and you would have thought the world ended on social media. After mak­ing the mis­take of engag­ing on this sub­ject on Face­book, I fig­ured I’d break it down here for everyone.

NO, the pres­ence of nuclear sub­marines near Korea isn’t clas­si­fied. It would be imprac­ti­cal to do so, since we announce when they pull into port. The unnamed Pen­ta­gon offi­cials (if they even exist) are com­pletely wrong, because we do talk about sub­marines, in the count­less Sailor eval­u­a­tions and fit­ness reports, unit awards and in unclas­si­fied doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted to Con­gress to jus­tify con­tin­ued fund­ing of the sub­ma­rine program.

And even if it was clas­si­fied, the Pres­i­dent can decide to declas­sify that infor­ma­tion. All pre­vi­ous Pres­i­dents have done so, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Obama. It’s part of their job descrip­tion, check out Exec­u­tive Order 13526 when you get a chance. Us in the mil­i­tary don’t always like it, but it’s not our job to decide that. The over­whelm­ing major­ity of mil­i­tary mem­bers are deriv­a­tive clas­si­fiers, mean­ing we clas­sify things accord­ing to rules handed down by oth­ers. It also means we can’t declas­sify most things on our own, and the con­stant “leak­ing” of infor­ma­tion by “unnamed” offi­cials is a far big­ger prob­lem than the President’s comments.

How is this dif­fer­ent from what Sec­re­tary Clin­ton did? Easy. She wasn’t declas­si­fy­ing any­thing. She was trans­mit­ting clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion via unse­cure means, and doing so inten­tion­ally. Con­sid­er­ing the level of infor­ma­tion she sent, that will have far larger con­se­quences than any­thing Pres­i­dent Trump has talked about so far.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other fed­eral agency. Unlike “unnamed offi­cials” from those agen­cies, I actu­ally use references.

Please check out my blog and donate to Da Tip Jar!

President Trump told Philippine President Duterte that there were two nuclear submarines ready to respond to North Korea…and you would have thought the world ended on social media. After making the mistake of engaging on this subject on Facebook, I figured I’d break it down here for everyone.

NO, the presence of nuclear submarines near Korea isn’t classified. It would be impractical to do so, since we announce when they pull into port. The unnamed Pentagon officials (if they even exist) are completely wrong, because we do talk about submarines, in the countless Sailor evaluations and fitness reports, unit awards and in unclassified documents submitted to Congress to justify continued funding of the submarine program.

And even if it was classified, the President can decide to declassify that information. All previous Presidents have done so, including President Obama. It’s part of their job description, check out Executive Order 13526 when you get a chance. Us in the military don’t always like it, but it’s not our job to decide that. The overwhelming majority of military members are derivative classifiers, meaning we classify things according to rules handed down by others. It also means we can’t declassify most things on our own, and the constant “leaking” of information by “unnamed” officials is a far bigger problem than the President’s comments.

How is this different from what Secretary Clinton did? Easy. She wasn’t declassifying anything. She was transmitting classified information via unsecure means, and doing so intentionally. Considering the level of information she sent, that will have far larger consequences than anything President Trump has talked about so far.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency. Unlike “unnamed officials” from those agencies, I actually use references.

Please check out my blog and donate to Da Tip Jar!