Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

“I was in the CIA. We wouldn’t trust a country whose leader did what Trump did.”

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I have run into the statement “It was perfectly legal for President Trump to hand over that classified and highly sensitive information to the Russian officials” surprisingly often, given that it is totally irrelevant. Everyone agrees that it was legal. Everyone. That is not the issue.

The issue is: Did the President’s actions show good judgment? What was benefit to the U.S. was gained by disclosing information that the U.S. had agreed to keep secret (to the point of not sharing it with other allies) and putting at risk an Israeli agent’s life and making every single one of our allies start rethinking their policies about sharing intelligence with the U.S.? President Trump gave up a lot. What did the U.S. get in return?

Steven Hall writes in the Washington Post:

President Trump can legally share classified material with any foreign leaders he likes, as it appears he did recently in an Oval Office meeting with Russia’s foreign minister and its ambassador to the United States.

But the information Trump reportedly shared with the Russians was originally passed to U.S. officials by another country’s intelligence service (Israel’s, according to media reports), which didn’t agree in advance to letting him disclose it.

As a former CIA officer, I fear that sharing information without coordinating with our allies will almost certainly hurt the country’s security in the long run. I know how U.S. intelligence officials evaluate whether we can trust our partners in other countries. If another head of state handled the sensitive information we had provided so casually, it would damage our relationship badly. It would cause us to reevaluate how and what we passed, and almost certainly result in our sharing less.

Over the years, the United States has developed close relationships with foreign intelligence services with which we share interests and goals. Since 9/11, many of these relationships have become quite close. These ties are particularly useful when it comes to sharing intelligence on the plans and intentions of terrorists — from specific plots to longer-term issues such as terrorist training locations or ways to improve security for high-profile international events.

Trust is the key element in these relationships. Before one intelligence service passes its information to another, its officers must have a reasonable expectation that the information will be protected. Part and parcel of protecting the information is the understanding that the other country will not pass the intelligence to a third party without specific permission. This is how it has always been done between intelligence services, and for good reason; it can take years to reach the level of trust where information can be shared routinely. Track records matter.

There are times when the United States decides against passing intelligence to foreign governments, even when it might be useful to them. Part of the job of professional intelligence officers is to assess the risks compared with the gains when contemplating passing sensitive information. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 May 2017 at 8:26 pm

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