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By Paul Meekin
By now you know President Donald Trump (legally) revealed classified information regarding the fact ISIS might be making laptop bombs to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The optics are…poor. This was right around the time Comey was fired, and folks were already very eager to ramp up the Trump/Russia angle. So when yet another unsourced story broke about yet another incident of Trump and Russia cooperating, there was an expected firestorm, and the Trump administration did what it does worst – scramble.
The story breaks, Rex Tillerson issues a very specific statement, denying the story by saying President Trump “did not discuss sources, methods or military operations” with the Russians. Trump then tweets what appears to be the opposite – stating he did reveal information, and it’s his right to do so.
Tillerson remains right. The knowledge that ISIS may be building laptop bombs for nefarious purposes isn’t a source, operation, or method at all. It’s information, it’s intelligence. And to be frank, intelligence Russia probably already had.
It was intelligence “we” already had – meaning the general populous. Two months ago, the department of homeland security issued a ban on ‘large’ electronics on flights from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and the UAE.
This is presumably due to the threat of terrorists hiding bombs in electronics. The ban is currently being considered in European countries as well, and Russia is culturally part of Europe, and Putin was in the KGB, so I somehow doubt this was earth shattering information to the Kremlin.
But now, suddenly, it seems the threat of electronic bombs from terrorists in the middle east is classified information that we revealed to the dastardly Russians, and that is cause for alarm and fear – not the bombs themselves.
I guess the idea is if citizens know something, and Trump knows something, and Russia knows something, we should all act the opposite as to avoid bad optics or the appearance of collusion.
I am of the mind that trying to connect with Russia over something like this, especially after tensions raised during the Syrian debacle, is…more-or-less, the kind of foreign diplomacy we want. We irk an ally, then work with them on another subject, thus proving we can disagree with our friends and still come together over common ground. Plus I am not beyond thinking that Trump “wanted” the media-literate ISIS to know we are onto them about this.
Ultimately, Trump was within his rights to reveal the classified information, yes, even to Russia. Trump possibly didn’t even know it was classified and it’s possible he got the ‘classified’ information from the news in the first place.
It’s a strange world when sharing information we all seem to know, that could save lives, is a politically calamity and a sign of a ‘downward’ spiral.
I mean, would you rather the man go back to playing golf?