Former US intel officer says Mar-a-Lago is 'nightmarish environment' for secret documents and that they needed to be taken back

Passers-by in front of Mar-a-Lago in March 2017. Darren Samuelsohn
Experts spoke about the difficulties in keeping top secret information safe at Mar-A-Lago.
The club has experienced major security breaches that may have impacted the urgency of the FBI's filing.
A former US intelligence officer told Reuters that securing Mar-a-Lago was a "nightmare".
Mar-A-Lago is a "nightmare" for safeguarding state secrets, a former US intelligence officer said amid the political storm sparked by the FBI's raid on Florida to take it back.
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The search was part of an FBI investigation into whether former President Donald Trump violated three federal laws, including the Espionage Act, by transporting moving boxes containing materials, some of which were top secret, from the White House to Mar-a-Lago .
And in an Aug. 8 raid, FBI agents took back much of this material and found in a legal filing that there was a mixture of confidential, classified, and top secret records.
Trump supporters and activists claim the unprecedented FBI search was politically motivated.
But the location of the materials in the Palm Beach home was a clear concern for intelligence officials — a location that has sparked a string of eyebrow-raising incidents about national security by Trump.
Weeks before the raid, investigators asked Trump to put a lock on the basement room where the documents were kept, CNN reported.
"It's a nightmarish environment for the careful handling of top secret information," an unnamed former US intelligence officer told Reuters. "It's just a nightmare."
Another expert, former CIA counterterrorism analyst Aki Peritz, called the sprawling 126-room club an obvious target.
Speaking to CNN, Peritz said, "Mar-a-Lago has been a porous place since Trump declared his candidacy and started winning primaries a few years ago.
"If you were an intelligence agency, friendly or unfriendly, worth your salt, you would focus your efforts on this incredibly porous place."
Throughout his presidency, Mar-a-Lago has been home to security breaches — some of which were perpetrated by Trump himself.
Then-U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe at the Mar-a-Lago Resort April 17, 2018 in Palm Beach, Florida.
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When Trump received then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the club in 2017, he shocked security officials by casually discussing news of a North Korean missile test in front of awed guests.
A defense policy expert told Insider at the time that the incident signaled to spies that it was "much easier" to eavesdrop on the president.
In Mar-a-Lago, the Secret Service physically screened visitors but had no control over who was allowed to visit them - a fact the agency was forced to clarify in a rare public statement after a 2019 incident.
In March this year, a Chinese woman entered the club with a USB stick and a hidden camera detection device, among other technologies that raised concerns that she was a spy. She had managed to get inside after an Secret Service search, which found that the name on her passport partially matched that of a club member.
On Friday, Trump said all of the documents at Mar-a-Lago had been "declassified" -- a claim that House Intelligence Committee member Jim Himes called "bold." Document release is a complex process that can take months, Himes said.
Read the original article on Business Insider
Melanie Trump
Former First Lady of the United States

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