Matt Gaetz, the SCIF, and Privilege

Congressman Matt Gaetz led a group of mostly tea party freedom caucus congress-members in a protest at the Secured Room within Congress. This room is used for classified hearings. This is known as the SCIF, and it is considered a highly sensitive area for national security. Some of the people following Gaetz had access to these hearings, but I guess that was not the correct storyline for their aggrieved base.

They are angry over the process. They are screaming because the president is not getting due process. They cannot argue with the pretty damming facts emerging from these hearings. So they are reduced to screaming and turning the tables, in a metaphorical way.

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However, there is an issue that most in the commentariat have either ignored or lack the self-awareness to raise. This has been an extremely good example of white privilege. It is not just that they interrupted a hearing. Or that they ordered pizza. Or that according to witnesses did not clean up after themselves. Nor that they broke a series of national security rules about not bringing any electronics into a sensitive area.

Any of this, or less, would get a regular civilian arrested, even charged with a federal felony. So far, we have not heard of major consequences. The request from Chairman Paul Irving to the Sergeant at Arms is more like a slap in the wrist. This is not substantive. Those who breached and had access should lose their clearances and by extent their assignments in these committees. Those who led this should face censure, even expulsion from the House. They proved that they cannot be trusted with the nation’s sensitive information. They also demonstrated that they have no respect for rules and regulations, and only care about holding on to power.

Remember, this is the same party that walked Daryl Issa out of a Committee he did not belong to. This is also the same party that held most of the Benghazi hearings behind closed doors, due to the sensitive nature of the material. Democrats, who were in the minority, grumbled some. However, they did not break the rules in such a blatant way. Republicans are because they can.

They know they can get away with it. They also understand the right-wing media bubble will paint them as heroes for standing up. If the Democrats decide to do anything more than maybe finger waggle, they will be victims. This is also how privilege works. It is also a reason why we are where we are. This crisis is deep. It is time to deal with the abuses, damned the torpedoes.

Congressman Gaetz, you should know this is not like the 300. They had honor, and they died to a man. They also bought time for the Athenians. But I doubt you care for actual history. History will not be kind when all is said and done. This Sir will likely be a footnote, as the more proper comparison to the Brookes Brothers riot at Volusia County. Some of us remember.

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Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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