“Can you believe the World we Live in?” Trump doesn’t understand “Classified”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Donald Trump is most probably not a Russian spy. He may have unusual connections to Russian businessmen (that isn’t clear), and seems to have made $100 million off Russia since 2008 (not that huge a sum for a multi-billionaire).

Donald Trump is a braggart. He grabs a piece of information the way a crow grabs paste jewellery. Unlike the crow who will likely hoard it, Trump passes it around for all to see.

Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe at WaPo got the story. Trump was bragging to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak and a whole gaggle of Russian reporters from outlets like RT and Sputnik (the US press was excluded, apparently for being the worst people in the world).

We have the best intelligence, he said.

Then he told the story of how we know from an ally who has a spy inside ISIL (ISIS, Daesh) in a particular city, and who discovered that ISIL has an evil plot. They want to take the batteries out of laptops, and fill the space in with a special explosive that is hard to detect. That explosive has to be detonated with a fuse lit on fire, it can’t be done remotely. So the plan was to get a laptop-bomb aboard a plane and light a quick match and … kablooie. This is a variation of previous al-Qaeda plots– the shoebomber put the material in the heel of his shoe, which is why we have to take off our shoes at the airport. They were thinking of dissolving it in a big cup of liquid, which is why we can’t take receptacles of liquid bigger than 3 oz. The underwear bomber over Detroit in 2009 used the same substance, but it is hard to ignite and he had it in a pouch in his underwear, and well, I think he probably can’t have kids anymore, besides doing life in a Federal penitentiary. The underwear bomber had a pouch on his body, which is why those machines at the airport want to see under our clothes.

The big deal is not that Trump told the Russians the vague outlines of the plot. It had more or less been announced because the US is putting pressure on the airlines not to let customers bring laptops into the cabin. I figured that out immediately on hearing it.

The big deal is that Trump told them from which city the foreign intelligence partner of the US derived the information, i.e. which ISIL cell has been penetrated. The US has not told that to anyone among allies, for fear of compromising an ongoing intelligence operation.

Trump may have just killed the spy who with incredible bravery penetrated ISIL.

But if Trump had wanted to slip the Russians this information, he could easily have done so indirectly, through back channels, using some of his private bag men.

He wasn’t deliberately leaking.

He cannot understand the concept of classified information or the consequences of revealing sources and methods.

Despite the attempt to whitewash all this by National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, it is clear that a serious violation was commited by Trump.

Trump is not fit to be president, as a matter of temperament. But his temperament was on full display before the American public and they voted for him anyway, so those voters deserve him.

I can’t let another irony go by. The intel officials who leaked all this to the Washington Post were doing exactly what Edward Snowden did. The WaPo editorial board, despite having itself published some Snowden revelations, has called for him to be jailed. Would they like to call for these leakers to be jailed, too? Or are only some leaks good and others bad.

Another irony is that Snowden is not proved to have endangered any US intelligence assets, whereas we now know that Trump has certainly endangered that of an ally. Snowden made his revelations to protect the US constitution from the American deep state. Trump made his to show off to Lavrov, sort of the way he would boast of his sexual prowess to a night club date.

We have the best intelligence.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

CBS Evening News: ” How serious is Trump’s information leak?”

21 Responses

  1. Compared to PlameGate this is small potatoes but the “Journalists” will surly make a big deal out of it.
    Plus, what are the odds that Russia is spying for ISIS?

    • The issue is that the Russians in the room do not have USA security clearances. Who knows who they will tell. People just talk. When the word is out, it will eventually get to ISIS, maybe not directly by anyone at the meeting, but via people who tell people etc.

  2. “Trump is not fit to be president, as a matter of temperament. But his temperament was on full display before the American public and they voted for him anyway, so those voters deserve him.”: Trump is the mirror’s image of the ( MSM’s manufactured) dumb American public. Solution: Break the MSM monopoly.

  3. It’s no secret the intelligence community is out to get Trump any way it can because they can’t control him the way they could say, Pence. What Trump did has been done by the intelligence community when it has suited their purposes. These people won’t rest until they bring Trump down. The hysteria over Russia has just been escalated. They want their puppet in the White House who can be manipulated like Obama was by John Brennan, who can be scared out of his mind by the CIA briefer. Trump may be a clown but he’s not a creature of Washington. He never held political office so never received his training in how to behave. Pence was a congressman and governor so he fits the bill and is very acceptable to the spymasters as someone who will do their bidding. This is all a setup to further their efforts to do away with this pretender and install a more malleable caretaker.

    • It sounded last night like the leak was NOT from the IC. It was from somebody at the meeting who was so alarmed he notified both NSA and CIA. This morning Trump confirmed that he had revealed classified information in a couple of twitter messages around 4AM. (Although they were probably written for him – a couple of big words and actual sentences.)

    • Trump doesn’t have a coherent world view, let alone a foreign policy. He’s influenced by the last and loudest voice in the room. His admiration for authoritarians is now documented so it’s hardly a surprise that he’s fine with Putin. Unfortunately, he’s too dim to understand much beyond that.

  4. Numerous reports claim he has been feeding information on activities of Russians in NY to Putin for years.

  5. The agent or agents who have been compromised: that’s one of the things that keeps marching through my head. And I’m never going to know whether those assets were gotten out in time, or whether they’re dead, or what happens to their families. For sure, one source of important intelligence has been eliminated. But I’m never going to know, unless of course Trump finds out and thinks it would make a cool story. I hope I live long enough to read the long stories to come in about 20 years or so.

  6. Years ago, Bruce Mazlish did a psychohistorical examination of Richard Nixon. Sure, there are problems attempting a long-distance psychological explanation of any political leader but it was still a fascinating and revealing read. Would love to read a similar attempt to get inside of Trump’s brain. Yes, he is a braggart. And his habit of constant self-promotion – to the point of caricature – speaks volumes about deeper insecurities.

  7. Of course DJT is not a Russian spy. How could anyone think (certainly not a case officer!) that he would be any good at it?

    What he would be good at is what the trade calls a “useful idiot.”

    Good times for GRU alumni these days.

  8. Just think about it: every week a new blow against the US and the institution of the presidency. It’s what he promised, right?

    Now, think about how this can possibly continue for rest of his term. This last move sure got our minds off Comey. It’s beyond me. Something has got to give.

  9. Imagine if Winston Churchill had bragged to the Spanish ambassador: “I’ve got totally fantastic intelligence. You wouldn’t believe it. Why, my guys even broke the Enigma code.” OOps, there goes WWII.

  10. We all need to be looking ahead to how far Trump will go to remain in power. What will you and I do if he and the GOP Congress simply refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing? What will you and I do if dissidents get fired from the media for raising too many questions? What will you and I do if the first mass protests are met with silence – or with gunfire?

    Worse than Nixon means worse than Kent State.

  11. By definition a President can not be accused of doing anything “illegal” by revealing classified information, precisely because the ultimate authority underpinning the entire “classification” of information is…. the office of the POTUS.

    Sure, he can be accused of carelessness.
    Sure, his judgement can be questioned.
    Sure, it can be argued that he lacks an understanding of the concept of “classified”.


    But none of those are impeachable offenses.

    Being “careless” is not grounds for removal from office.
    Nor is an abundance of “questionable judgement”.
    Nor is a lack of “conceptual understanding”

    All of those are value-judgements that are entirely held in the eye of the beholder, and attempting to remove a President – any President – on those grounds is sure to result in a lot of partisan voters grabbing their guns and begging to differ.

    You need “high crimes and misdemeanors” to remove a President, and nothing that The Donald has done even remotely approaches that.

    • correction – Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of Justice subsequent to a blowjob in the Oval Office.

      Trump’s obstruction of Justice was not about fellatio but consorting with Russia and clearly less fun.

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