Sharing Secrets

trump putinWith regard to the unelected president sharing sensitive intelligence with high-ranking Russians during an Oval Office visit, I admit to mixed feelings. Trump is a deeply stupid man and therefore dangerous, and to this day I don’t understand how he could possibly be in the White House, especially after losing to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes, but …

The intel he shared, if the reports I read today are accurate, was about a developing ISIS terrorist threat involving explosive devices disguised as electronic devices of the kind people commonly carry aboard airliners. The threat could be carried out against any nation ISIS has a beef with: the US, Russia, France, England, you name it. Serious shit, indeed, but here’s the thing: the world has known about this new threat for weeks, ever since the TSA announced a ban on laptops and tablets aboard flights bound for the US from certain Middle Eastern countries.

I’m old enough to remember President Carter, in the last days of the 1980 presidential campaign, announcing the development of the B-2 stealth bomber. There was no valid reason for spilling the beans on what was, at the time, a compartmented code-word program only a few high-ranking defense and military officials had been read in on. The only possible explanation for Carter’s action was that it was a last-ditch hail Mary pass to give him a leg up against Reagan, who was kicking his ass on national security issues. At least Trump can claim to have a more selfless reason for doing what he did.

That is if you believe what he said this morning on Twitter:

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

We know enough about Trump at this point … hell, we knew enough about him more than a year ago … to know he’s trying to obscure a baser motive. When he blabbed to the Russians he was showing off, bragging about how much he knows. But that doesn’t make the argument about sharing critical information on terrorism and airline flight safety invalid, and when push comes to shove, that’s the argument that’ll get Trump off the hook.

I’ve had some exposure to compartmented code-word intel: I was read into a few programs, then read out when I retired from the Air Force. I can tell you that the information itself is often innocuous and widely known. What intelligence agencies are trying to protect is the source of the information. When sources are compromised, the flow of intel from those sources usually stops. Worse still, there have been cases where hostile powers, after leaks of sensitive intel, were able to figure out how the information was gathered and then track down and kill the men and women who got it. That’s the worst case. Usually, though, sensitive intel is compartmented in order to avoid embarrassment. Israel might find out something about ISIS from contacts in Syria, but wouldn’t want the intel to be made public because it would reveal that Israel has been working with Assad, a sworn enemy. Now that’s just a hypothetical example, but it’s kind of what I think is going on here … the intel about ISIS threats Trump was briefed on, and then shared with the Russians, came from a country that doesn’t want to be revealed, and now Trump has blown their cover.

As I mentioned earlier, anyone who paid attention to the TSA’s ban on laptops and other large electronic devices on airline flights bound for the USA from certain Muslim countries, originally announced in March, knew right away the ban was in response to a specific threat. Clearly, we have already shared intel on that threat with allied countries, because many of them imposed bans of their own. So was there really a humanitarian reason to share this intel with Russia, which was already well aware of the preventive actions we and other countries had already taken? No. Trump was just showing off. He can’t help it, because he is a child.

If you’re thinking the Republican majority in the House or Senate is going to authorize any sort of investigation or censure of Trump, you’re living in some kind of “Bernie would have won” fantasy world. About the only thing Trump could do to get impeached at this point would be to go on nationwide TV and say “black lives matter.”

2 thoughts on “Sharing Secrets

  • What I can’t figure out is why they revealed that the info was from Israel? Or did the Russians know that so they decided to announce it? I suppose I should google but frankly, I am having trouble keeping up with Trumps misbehavior – another day, another shock. I read that the intel was that a well known ISIS bomb maker in Yemen has developed a bomb that replaces a laptop battery but can turn on the laptop at security.

  • The impression I got is that while no one told the Russians where the intel came from, the nature of the intel would enable them to figure out how & where it was gathered. Well, big whoop. Everyone knows about the Mossad.

    Another thing I’ve been thinking about, though … the new TSA restrictions on laptops and other large electronic devices are that they have to be checked and carried in the cargo hold. That’s where the boom box bomb that brought down the Pan Am 747 over Lockerbie was, and really, a laptop bomb is only a slightly more evolved version of a boom box bomb. Also, an explosion in the cargo hold is every bit as dire as an explosion in the cabin.

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