Trump claims he's been hunting for intelligence 'leakers'

17 May, 2017, 02:38 | Author: Malcolm Fuller

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Tuesday morning marched in lockstep with the larger Trump administration narrative on reports that the President disclosed highly classified information to Russian officials, insisting during a press briefing that nothing inappropriate was shared and that the "real issue" was leaks to the press.

"As President I wanted to share with Russian Federation (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety", he wrote in an early morning tweet.

Trump was responding to reports Monday that he revealed highly classified information to senior Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week, putting a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk. "There are conflicting reports about whether or not President Trump disclosed sensitive information to the Russians".

The action drew strong criticism from Democrats and a call for an explanation from his own Republican party.

H.R. McMaster added that none of the USA officials present for the president's Oval Office meeting with the Russian foreign minister last week "felt in any way that that conversation was inappropriate".

US President Donald Trump has defended his "absolute right" to share information with Russian Federation, following a row over classified material. It provides an extra level above Top Secret to compartmentalize information so that only the most high-level American officials who need to know it can see it. An excerpt from an official transcript of the meeting reveals that Trump told them, "I get great intel". The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly, would not say which country's intelligence was divulged. And America's intelligence officers reportedly warned allied countries prior to the inauguration not to share intelligence as freely as they had for fear of shared intelligence making its way into hostile hands through the Oval Office.

Just as serious is how partisan cowards entrusted with national security information are anonymously leaking USA intelligence to ruin an American president and our democratic system.

The U.S. officials told Reuters that Trump revealed the information to the Russians without consulting the ally that provided it, which threatens to jeopardize a long-standing intelligence-sharing agreement.

Nixon, as someone with actual foreign policy experience, knew that sharing such secrets would put an ally's undercover agents at risk.

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Trump in his tweets Tuesday didn't specifically say whether he shared that information with Russian officials. As many have pointed out, the Post's report never accused Trump of discussing sources, methods or military operations.

In Washington, Republicans for the most part were cautious about attacking Trump over the reports.

Other Republicans, however, expressed concern. John McCain, R-Ariz., called the reports "deeply disturbing" and said they could affect the willingness of US allies and partners to share intelligence with the U.S. "But the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline - it's creating an environment that I think makes - it creates a worrisome environment". Given the well-publicised ban on laptops in cabins on certain Middle Eastern routes, whoever revealed that information is unlikely to be still in place. McMaster said, "The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation".

Asked why the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency were put on notice if the revelations were not problematic, McMaster cast the notification as being provided "from an overabundance of caution".

The disclosure included information that could jeopardize "a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State", including the source's location and other identifying details, The Post reported.

Senator Dianne Feinstein accidently leaked classified sensitive information on drone strikes in 2009 during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

McMaster confirmed the Washington Post's reporting that the Central Intelligence Agency and NSA were contacted following the meeting, although he would not comment on why.

"At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that weren't already publicly known", McMaster told reporters Monday, according to CNN.

But keep in mind USA officials unfamiliar with intelligence sometimes make such mistakes.

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