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USA – Trump’s handling of intelligence information is lax

USA – Trump’s handling of intelligence information is lax

Court documents released in a raid by the FBI on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate show that highly classified documents were seized there. It’s the latest episode in a long line of incidents in which Trump has been accused of playing it easy or abusing the classified information privilege.

As president, Trump had the authority to unilaterally declassify information. Nevertheless, his actions repeatedly surprised the ranks of the American secret services.

Signified with submarines

For example, in April 2017, Trump told then-Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that two US Navy nuclear submarines were off the coast of North Korea and boasted of “massive firepower,” according to a Philippine transcript of the call. The Pentagon rarely discloses the locations of its submarines, which are critical to US defense strategy.

In May 2017, Trump welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to the White House. He shared information about possible attacks by the jihadist militant Islamic State (IS) with Russian guests that the US had received from an ally in the Middle East. As it later turned out, the information, classified as top secret, came from Israel – which, according to media reports, was furious about its disclosure.

In August 2019, the then US president tweeted a high-resolution photo of an Iranian missile launch site. Trump wrote that the US was not involved in the “catastrophic crash during final launch preparations” of a Safir missile at a launch site in the northern Iranian city of Semnan.

In a 2019 interview, Trump told journalist Bob Woodward about America’s unknown nuclear capability. Maybe it’s a deceptive brag — or divulging highly confidential information. “I built a nuclear weapons system that nobody in this country has ever had,” Trump told reporters. “We have things Putin and Xi have never heard of,” Trump boasted, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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After a US military operation in Syria killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019, Trump revealed many details about the operation that the Pentagon usually withholds. The president said the US had intelligence on, for example, how many helicopters were deployed, what troops entered the compound and what IS phone and internet use was. Former Special Forces commander Michael Nagata told the Politico news portal that such information “could lead to a reconstruction of our intelligence by our adversary.”

But Trump also withholds information from his intelligence chiefs. At a July 2018 security briefing, then-Secret Service Director Dan Coats was surprised when a moderator told him that the White House had announced on Twitter that it would invite Putin to Washington. “Say that again,” he said. Coates admitted he didn’t know what Trump discussed in his meeting with Putin three days earlier: “I don’t know what happened in that meeting.” (AFP)