• The National Archives is underfunded, overwhelmed and not keeping up with technology, analysts say.
  • Problems at NARA make it likely many former president have classified documents.
  • Efforts by current and former U.S. officials and watchdogs to fix the system have mostly gone nowhere.

The Biden and Trump classified document revelations are very different, even though both indicate U.S. national security could have been put at risk by sensitive government documents stored in unsecured personal locations.

But they do have one similarity, security analysts tell USA TODAY: Both cases underscore how the U.S. system of safeguarding classified presidential documents is in urgent need of improvement, especially during the critical period when one administration hands over the White House keys to another.

The massive volume of records generated or used by the president, vice president and their large National Security Council staff are among the most closely held secrets in the U.S. government. Some would constitute a “grave threat” to U.S. national security if left unsecured or stored in places where they could potentially fall into the hands of America’s adversaries, according to U.S. intelligence guidelines. Some could disclose such things as the names of U.S. undercover spies and covert operations. Others could divulge the nuclear weapons capabilities of U.S. allies and enemies. 

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