In today’s press conference, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster caught some flack for saying:
“I think the real issue and what I would like to see debated more is that our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality,” he said. “I think national security is put at risk by this leak and leaks like this.”
To show you the damage leaks, for whatever reason, can do, let’s just look at this latest #TrumpOutrage. I’ll warn you right now, if you think McMaster is a liar you will be triggered. This is via NBC News:
McMaster said the president shared the information in “context of the conversation” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying it was “wholly appropriate to that conversation” and “consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leader with whom he’s engaged.”
McMaster would not confirm if that information was classified.
“I was in the room, the Secretary of State was in the room, as you know, the deputy adviser for national security, Dina Powell, and none of us felt in any way that conversation was inappropriate,” McMaster said.
During those conversations, Trump also disclosed the city in ISIS-held Syria from which that intelligence emanated, McMaster confirmed.
“It was nothing that you would not know from open-source reporting,” McMaster said.
The president “wasn’t aware of where this came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source of this information,” McMaster said.
The Washington Post leaks, according to my friend Erick Erickson, were done out of love:
What sets this story apart for me, at least, is that I know one of the sources. And the source is solidly supportive of President Trump, or at least has been and was during Campaign 2016. But the President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.
So some of the sources are left with no other option but to go to the media, leak the story, and hope that the intense blowback gives the President a swift kick in the butt. Perhaps then he will recognize he screwed up. The President cares vastly more about what the press says than what his advisers say. That is a real problem and one his advisers are having to recognize and use, even if it causes messy stories to get outside the White House perimeter.
I am told that what the President did is actually far worse than what is being reported. The President does not seem to realize or appreciate that his bragging can undermine relationships with our allies and with human intelligence sources. He also does not seem to appreciate that his loose lips can get valuable assets in the field killed.
Keep in mind, that until this guy leaked the Russians did not know that the information Trump spoke to them about, even though it was available in open source, was based on a highly placed ISIS source run by an allied intelligence service. If lives are lost over this, this guy owns most of the responsibility.
Now, to help out, the New York Times has this:
The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel, according to a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information. The revelation adds a potential diplomatic complication to the episode.
Israel is one of the United States’ most important allies and a major intelligence collector in the Middle East. The revelation that Mr. Trump boasted about some of Israel’s most sensitive information to the Russians could damage the relationship between the two countries. It also raises the possibility that the information could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the Middle East.
Israeli officials would not confirm that they were the source of the information that Mr. Trump shared. In a statement emailed to The New York Times, Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, reaffirmed that the two countries would maintain a close counterterrorism relationship.
“Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Mr. Dermer said.
“The Russians have the widest intelligence collection mechanism in the world outside of our own. They can put together a good picture with just a few details,” said John Sipher, a 28-year veteran of the C.I.A. who served in Moscow in the 1990s and later ran the C.I.A.’s Russia program for three years. “They can marry President Trump’s comments with their own intelligence, and intelligence from their allies. They can also deploy additional resources to find out details.”
Precisely. This is why you don’t acknowledge a leak of classified information. Often leaks of classified information, even in the press, are totally ignored because unless someone points it out, in most cases it is very difficult to identify.
Thanks to these two leaks, the US media, with the help of at least four people who should be in prison, has taken us from a situation where information was shared to one where the Russians now know the Israelis have a highly placed source inside of ISIS.