15 May 2017

This is the One Case Where the "Tricky Dick Defense" Actually Works

Everyone is having conniptions because Donald Trump had a discussions with Russian officials describing credible reports that he had received regarding of ISIS plans to use a laptop bomb to take down a plane.

This may be stupid, but it's not illegal, because POTUS is the ultimate classification authority in the United States, which means that he can tell whoever he wants whatever secrets he wants, and it's legal, "Because the President is doing it."

This does not apply to the multitude of crimes that Richard Milhous Nixon actually committed, but it does apply here.

His decision to go into detail about this with the Russians is a matter of politics and policy, but there is no violation of the law here, though there would be if any other individual in the US did so without authorization.

The President can authorize any release of classified data that is not constrained by other laws (For example, if there were a release of medical data, he might be in violation of the HIPAA statute).*

That is the beginning and the end of the law here.

This does not mean that his discussion wasn't f%$#ing stupid, it appears that the intel came from another nation, and his behavior would make other nations more reticent about intelligence sharing, but it is not illegal.

This is a tempest in a teapot over what is what I would call masturbatory intelligence outrage:
President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”


Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

The Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.

“Everyone knows this stream is very sensitive, and the idea of sharing it at this level of granularity with the Russians is troubling,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official who also worked closely with members of the Trump national security team. He and others spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.
That "Former senior U.S. counterterrorism official who also worked closely with members of the Trump national security team?"

That would be former SecDef Bob Gates, the unofficial mascot of what Ben Rhodes calls "The Blob", the interventionist foreign policy conventional wisdom, which is itching for some sort of war with Russia.

With all the damage that Trump and his Evil Minions are doing to our economy, our environment, and our civil rights, the hysteria of America's always wrong foreign policy establishment should not be a primary concern.

*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!
My guess is that the source is Israel, simply because it sounds like the sort of thing that the Mossad would catch, but this is a completely uninformed guess.


Anonymous said...

How handy...pick one of the many mental shits donny has done over the last 100 days to exonerate him...to build him as a "doing the correct legal thing"...and screw the attitude most people had when I was growing up..
"beter dead than red"...Oh! but this is different..sad.

Matthew Saroff said...

Some points:
* I think that better relations with Russia is one of the few areas where he is right.
* I think that this focus about Russia by the Democratic Party establishment is a losing proposition, and it is driven primarily by their need to protect Hillary's, and by extension Chelsea's political future.

As a result of the Russian hysteria, no one is noticing that Trump is doing things like reneging on his promise to back out of NAFTA, which WOULD be an effective strategy.

Anonymous said...

You don't think the atrocity's done to the people of Russia and Russian 'conquests' is adequate to put a lifetime censor on the country?...cuz man that where most of the animosity I grew up reading about comes from Americans. And thats good...because thats our ass hanging out there while all you "live and let live..shake" bloggers are looking for controversy.

Matthew Saroff said...

I don't understand your comment.

I agree with Gorbachev, who is now saying that the US never stopped making war on Russia.

We threw their grandparents out on the streets, and forced their daughters into prostitution.

Also, we do not keep our promises.

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