Monday, May 15, 2017

He Did WHAT?

For a guy trying to distance himself from Russia, Donald Trump is doing just the opposite.

America has been straining its ties with its allies and other friendly nations since Trump became president. He claimed NATO was obsolete, slammed its member states for not paying their share even imagining they "owed" the United States over it, courted every despot on the planet from Duterte, to Orban, Erdogan, Putin, even Kim Jong-il. He's threatened America's closest trading partners. He single-handedly tore up the TPP and appears intent on trashing the Paris climate accord in due course.

Trump sees America's friends and allies in terms of dollar signs and resorts to some pretty dodgy math. He has no grasp of how dependent the United States often is on their support and cooperation. The latest example of Trump's indifference to America's allies occurred during a recent private session in the Oval Office with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States.

President Trump boasted about highly classified intelligence in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week, providing details that could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected, a current and a former American government official said Monday.

The intelligence disclosed by Mr. Trump ...was about an Islamic State plot, according to the officials. A foreign ally that closely guards its own secrets provided the information, which was considered so sensitive that American officials did not share it widely within the United States government or pass it on to other allies.

Mr. Trump’s disclosure does not appear to have been illegal ...but sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it represented a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship.

The ally, which has shared information in the past with the United States only to see it leaked, has repeatedly warned American officials that it would cut off access to such sensitive information if it were shared too widely, said the former official. In this case, the fear is that Russia will be able to determine exactly how the information was collected and could disrupt the ally’s espionage efforts.

Beyond angering a partner and calling into question the ability of the United States to keep secrets, the episode also opens Mr. Trump to criticism of a double standard. The president made Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information through her private email server central to his campaign, leading chants of “lock of her up” at rallies. But there was never any indication that Mrs. Clinton exposed sensitive information from an ally or gave it to an adversary.

Trump's people are denying the report but, given the reliability of anything this president says, that probably won't cut much ice with the ally in question.


Anonymous said...

Let's say you were an American spook and you wanted to give some information to the Russians, either because it was false or because you had some common interest in sharing it. Of course, you then need the Russians to know they've got it and to believe it.

Given what we know about Trump's need to dominate the room, wouldn't it be relatively easy to brief the president, tell him he's got some really juicy stuff, then let him do his thing? But you've got to make sure the Russians buy the story, so you then call up the WaPo with yet another Trump "gaffe," anonymously, of course. Job done.


the salamander said...

.. the Trump National Security Advisor appears to have denied.. 'didn't happen' .. accusations that did not happen. Thus avoiding or deflecting the reality of yet another extreme motormouth Trump gaffe. Seems there's recording of the meeting.. thus there will be classified transcripts. Its now a tree that did not fall.. in a secret forest. We don't yet know what delicious dessert was served, or snacks, nor do we know the talking points being injected into Sean Spicer, Paul Ryan and Fox TV. Thus the Russians can screw Trump to the wall re the social meeting in the oval office and his loose lips habit.. and zero the White House can do about it. Putin can direct Russian media or feed other nations' media to shake and bake Trump.. What genius ! Bring Russians into the White House the day after FBI Director gets humiliated in public.. and feed them conversation classified appetizers.. Brilliant ! One giant step forward to getting Mike Pence behind the Oval Office desk

The Mound of Sound said...

Cap, the problem with your scenario is that the guy who misled Trump would probably be found out fairly quickly and dismissal might be the least of his problems.

The Mound of Sound said...

Odd isn't it that Trump & Co. wanted Hillary prosecuted, imprisoned for careless handling of innocuous emails that got nowhere near the Russians or any other adversary of the United States. Yet Trump incompetently (at best) transmits state secrets to the Russians from the inner sanctum of the White House.

The mystery that needs to unravel is how these sources, a former and a current government official, learned of Trump's conversations when only Trump, the Russian ambassador and FM and a Russian photographer were in the room.

Has America's intelligence/security apparatus bugged the Oval Office? Did they intercept Russian communications after the session? Could the whole thing be a red herring planted by the Russians to further undermine the U.S. government?

Then again why did Trump choose this moment to have a private session with his own aides excluded?

the salamander said...

.. I understand that another American official attented the meeting. But obviously while recording audio and/or video via hidden surveillance systems, other White House & security people would monitor the live sound & process.. ie Bannon or Secret Service.. and easily replay, duplicate, back up the resulting media. On another note, Its stunning that a Russian State photgrapher was in the room. Does it not occur to these idiots that all pro DSLR cameras could easily be set up to record audio only without any real sign of such tampering & operation? Thus the Russian photographer could easily capture all audio. We live in a solid state world folks. Without tearing his Canon or Nikon camera(s) apart and testing out all switching & circuity, before and after the meeting, who would recording sure as hell won't appear on the memory cards if its embedded in the magnesium chassis of the camera, or the baked on finish, or part of a lens

Also keep in mind, Trump's handlers immediately contacted the principal agencies to try to dampen & water down the catastrophe. That in itself bespeaks the meeting was monitored. When will the 5 Eyes or 'partners' demand an unedited duplicate of the entire meeting? What was Trump's now infamous tweet re the Comey meeting? 'he better hope there aren't "tapes" of the meeting" .. Well shoe is on the other hoof now eh? And its Trump who must wish there was no tape from meeting with the Russians.

If my premise is correct.. Trump forked himself (yes, the chess term) and all his enablers and agencies and staff. If the Russians have their own recording, the Americans cannot deceive security partners. Oh.. except by claiming the Russian have manipulated the recording or.. be limited to the 'FAKE NEWS' deflection & denial

As always, the 'coverup' will be more risky and damaging than the actual idiocy.. Over to you Mike Pence ...

Anonymous said...

Mound, not necessarily. WH leaks are nothing new and Trump hasn't been particularly good at firing other leakers.

But let's say Trump really did let the cat out of the bag about some ISIS laptop plot. First, wouldn't the Russians have assumed that after the US banned laptops on flights from eight Islamic countries? You don't need to be a terrorism expert to figure out who the DHS was talking about in a press release announcing the ban in March that said, “Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”

Second, why would you compound your problems by announcing to the world that your info came from a foreign intelligence agency with special access to ISIS? Something's fishy about this story.


The Mound of Sound said...

Cap, you might find this helpful: