The (De?)Classified Papers at Mar-a-Lago

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  • The Attack on Salman Rushdie
  • Take It From Me: Get Vaccinated for Polio
  • Find the Political Will to Fight Hunger

F.B.I. agents collected five sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents and three sets of confidential documents from Mar-a-Lago, the inventory showed.Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Lawyer Asserted Return of Secret Papers Was Completed by June” (front page, Aug. 14):

Regardless of what federal statute Donald Trump may have violated by taking from the White House, and refusing to return, a large volume of top-secret documents whose disclosure could easily harm the United States or aid our enemies, the former president has shown himself — once again — to be a threat to national security.

Given that he notoriously refused to read materials prepared for his intelligence briefings, and that he cozied up to some of our biggest adversaries during his four years as president, it is hard to believe that he was jealously guarding those classified materials for some non-nefarious purpose.

Disclosure of the nature of these documents from unsealing the search warrant has led some Republicans in Congress to mute their criticism of Attorney General Merrick Garland and the F.B.I. That is all well and good. But until they direct their criticism to the real culprit — Mr. Trump — their rhetoric will have no more impact than abstaining from a vote.

Daniel Bernstein

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Claims He Can Declassify. Here’s What He Can and Can’t Do” (news article, Aug. 15):

As a defense for moving reams of highly classified documents to his home, Donald Trump and some of his allies have begun floating the defense that he had “declassified” these documents.

Setting aside for a moment the highly dubious merits (and truthfulness) of that argument, I’d like to see Mr. Trump have to answer a simple question: Why? Why would Mr. Trump declassify some of the most sensitive and highly protected U.S. information for all eyes to see?

Why would he declassify documents that could contain information related to highly sensitive sources and methods, secret weapons technology, the names of covert agents and possibly even secrets related to our nuclear programs?

Isn’t that extraordinarily dangerous? Couldn’t countries hostile to the U.S. use that information to their advantage? How does any of this make America safer?

I’ve yet to hear an explanation from Mr. Trump and his allies regarding the “why” question. I doubt any coherent explanation will be forthcoming.

Personally, I don’t believe the declassification defense. I think there is a much simpler and far more realistic explanation. Mr. Trump took the documents for the same reason he does everything — for money. He likely sees the documents as “his” property that can be sold, leveraged or used in other ways to generate income for himself.

What keeps me up at night is the knowledge that copies of some of these documents may already be in the hands of some very bad actors.

Matthew Singerman
Newbury Park, Calif.

To the Editor:

The former president’s claim that he had declassified all of the documents that the F.B.I. seized in the search of his Florida home is being seized on by his Republican defenders as justifying his unsecured possession of top-secret government documents, including materials about the nation’s nuclear weapons capabilities.

Just let that sink in for a minute: The former president of the United States and some Republicans are condoning the declassification of America’s most sensitive intelligence secrets.

Mark Abramowitz

To the Editor:

Re “Obama Did Not Keep Classified Documents, the National Archives Confirms” (, Aug. 12):

Donald Trump claims that “President Barack Hussein Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified” and lots of them pertaining to nuclear matters.

If he believed that this was the case, as president during the next four years, why didn’t Mr. Trump take action to retrieve the purported documents? He and his administration were constantly on the lookout for leaked documents, with the stated intention to prosecute leakers.

M.A. Feirstein
New York

The Attack on Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie, pictured in 2015.Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Rushdie, Author Who Spent Years in Hiding, Is Stabbed Onstage” (front page, Aug. 13):

For all those who love reading, consider going to your local library or bookstore and borrowing or buying one of Salman Rushdie’s books. Violence against great literature is a threat to all of us.

Susan Schotz

Take It From Me: Get Vaccinated for Polio

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Polio Found in Sewage Suggests Spread of Virus in New York City” (front page, Aug. 13):

Seventy-three years ago, the 4-year-old me was diagnosed with polio. I spent five months in the hospital and came home wearing a brace to support my virtually useless right leg. I avoided an iron lung, although I saw many children having to use them.

Fifty years of normal life ended when I developed post-polio syndrome, an aftereffect of polio that involves further weakened muscles in the affected limbs and wearing out of the other parts of the body overused to compensate. Now I can get around only with a walker or scooter.

Why do I write this? Because after virtually disappearing from the U.S. polio is making an unwanted comeback. Why? Because people are not being vaccinated. In 1949 there was no effective vaccine. If there had been, my mother would have made sure I was vaccinated.

Now, for ridiculous reasons or no reason at all, parents are putting their children at risk. Take it from me: Polio is not a joke, and it is not worth the risk!

If you, Mom or Dad, do not vaccinate your children, it is a form of child abuse. And if, heaven forbid, your child contracts polio as a result, when they are old enough to know that you are the cause of the lifelong damage they will suffer, how will you face them? How will you face yourself?

Arthur D. Chotin
Annapolis, Md.

Find the Political Will to Fight Hunger

Alaina Hoisington and her son, Kayl, who volunteered at Tabitha’s Way Local Food Pantry, helped Fabian Melendez load food into his car in Spanish Fork, Utah.Credit…Niki Chan Wylie for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “More Americans Are Going Hungry” (Business, Aug. 8):

It’s all too clear that inflation is squeezing support for the nation’s food banks, even as more Americans struggle with hunger. It’s just as clear that food banks cannot meet the actual needs of those who are food insecure.

Our nation’s leaders must find the political will to pursue robustly funded policies that have that capacity while also addressing the root causes of hunger.

During the pandemic, Congress increased nutrition assistance, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to stave off deepening hunger. Our leaders certainly understand how to meet this crisis if they so choose.

Congress will soon turn to reauthorizing our nation’s food programs under the farm bill. It’s a critical opportunity to advance meaningful policies that tackle food insecurity, particularly in the face of inflation.

We must institutionalize comprehensive and thoughtful policies to ensure a strong safety net for people who fall into hardship. This will halt the cycle of reactive, costly interventions and ease pressures on an overwhelmed charitable system.

Abby J. Leibman
Los Angeles
The writer is the president and chief executive of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

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