Warning, set down whatever is in your hand so as not to drop it.
Have no doubt, the United States’ Intelligence community fully appreciates the danger Trump’s behavior represents with respect to Russia. Indeed, the CIA had cause to fear that Trump’s Russian antics might get an asset killed. From an explosive new CNN report:
In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN….
….The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.
We have known for some time that Trump handed over sensitive intelligence to Kislyak during the Oval Office meeting. That meeting has long been the subject of serious questions. American presidents generally do not invite top Russian “diplomats” (spies) INSIIDE the Oval Office. Moreover, Trump summoned the Russians to the White House just a day after firing James Comey, telling staff and the Russians that the investigation was “over.” Last, we Americans might not have even known about the meeting had a photograph of the men not been issued by a Russian news agency and photographer.
Evidently, the meeting’s extraordinary circumstances and the mishandling of intelligence sent fear coursing through the intelligence community.
Of course, the CIA denies the CNN story:
“CNN’s narrative that the Central Intelligence Agency makes life-or-death decisions based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection is simply false. Misguided speculation that the President’s handling of our nation’s most sensitive intelligence—which he has access to each and every day—drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate.”
Note that the spokesperson did not say that the extraction never took place, only that Trump’s mishandling of “our nation’s most sensitive intelligence” did not “drive” the decision. And, of course, this denial comes from the same executive branch that slapped the Birmingham NWS, while ordering NOAA silenced. That order involved a fcking weather forecast, not treason with classified intelligence. Under no circumstances would we expect the CIA to officially confirm the story.
Mike Pompeo’s office – the man who was CIA director at the time – had no comment on the story, which is not a denial.
Of course, Trump’s ongoing bizarre behavior toward Russia would only validate the CIA’s fears:
Those concerns continued to grow in the period after Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Kislyak and Lavrov. Weeks after the decision to extract the spy, in July 2017, Trump met privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg and took the unusual step of confiscating the interpreter’s notes. Afterward, intelligence officials again expressed concern that the President may have improperly discussed classified intelligence with Russia, according to an intelligence source with knowledge of the intelligence community’s response to the Trump-Putin meeting.
Recall it was Trump who insisted upon meeting with Putin privately, without a single American diplomat present. Trump could have given Putin the nuclear codes and we would not know. After all, Trump himself confiscated the translator’s notes.
Trump’s confiscation of the notes ought to cause every elected Republican to demand a full investigation into the meeting, including a demand that the translator testify before the House and Senate. Of course, such an action would require loyalty to one’s nation over loyalty to party and leader.
We know that Russian investigations upset Trump. And today’s elected Republicans are more willing to risk U.S. security than risk upsetting Trump.
Given everything else we know, why is this so important? Because we lost a person whose value might well have been incalculable:
Knowledge of the Russian covert source’s existence was highly restricted within the US government and intelligence agencies. According to one source, there was “no equal alternative” inside the Russian government, providing both insight and information on Putin … “The impact would be huge because it is so hard to develop sources like that in any denied area, particularly Russia, because the surveillance and security there is so stringent,” a former senior intelligence official told CNN. “You can’t reacquire a capability like that overnight.“
Given that there appeared to be no reason at all to share the intelligence at the brief gathering in the Oval Office, a person is near forced to wonder if Trump passed the intelligence precisely because it would burn the top American “asset” in the Russian government.
The counter-argument is no more comforting, that Trump is incapable of thinking so strategically regarding international espionage. That doesn’t preclude the possibility that Kislyak didn’t “ask” certain questions, guaranteed to reveal the source of the intelligence.
We cannot know. Yet. We only know that we lost our most valuable “eyes and ears” in the Kremlin, because our president cannot be trusted with our most sensitive intelligence. He will hand it to Russians, or Tweet it to the world.
Tell me again that the United States intelligence community doesn’t know damn well that Trump will do anything to pleas Putin and Russia, including risking lives.
We end by recognizing the white-hot irony to all this. Trump supporters – to this day – want Hillary Clinton jailed because she might have left sensitive information on her server.
“But her emailzzz.”
Back then, Republicans pretended to care about national security, and the nation as a whole. Now we know better.
firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter, @MIciakZoom