Donald Trump Blabbed Military Secrets Again? That Can't Be Right!
When Donald Trump was just a few minutes into his self-aggrandizing announcement about the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Yr Dok Zoom wondered a thing on Twitter:
Have to wonder what operational details Trump will brag about, even after being warned against revealing them.— Doktor Zoom (@Doktor Zoom)1572183040.0
Now, we're not claiming any kind of special insight for wondering that, since Trump's tendency to blurt out information any time he think it makes him seem important has worried the intelligence community from the start of his maladministration, and he lived down to those expectations when he revealed classified information to visiting Russian officials the day after he fired James Comey.
And now we know: Trump revealed some secrets during his presser -- nothing that's likely to get anyone killed, probably, but details of the operation that made military and intelligence officials "cringe," according to NBC News. At the very least, some of the operational details Trump spiced up his narrative with could make future intelligence gathering and operations more difficult, because now the bad guys know just a little more about what the US knows and how the US knows it. But those so-called "experts" are missing the big picture: Any harm Trump may have caused for future operations is more than offset by the irrefutable fact that relaying classified details made the presser a lot more exciting! Besides, as NBC notes, presidents have the power to declassify anything, so Trump could stand on Fifth Avenue and shout the names of covert operatives with legal impunity.
And besides, since Trump has already burned America's most important allies in the region, the Syrian Kurds, and plans to completely let Russia and Turkey dominate the region anyway, Trump doesn't need to worry about spoiling future operations. There simply won't be any, you see, and America will just ignore the Middle East altogether, except for automatically supporting our great friend Israel (or at least the Likkud party). The man is a strategic genius, and there will never be any more terrorism ever.
Here's NBC News reporter Courtney Kube discussing the story on the Maddow show last night:
Trump Baghdadi Blurting Hurts US Operations And National Security | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC youtu.be
Some of the classified information Trump revealed, like the fact that a military dog was injured in the raid, may not seem terribly important, especially when you consider the slightly goofy fact that Trump tweeted a photo of the wonderful dog yesterday, but noted its name remains classified.
We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing… https://t.co/w4zmC1vKD0— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1572292976.0
While we're all happy the pupper, like any dog in a disaster movie, is going to be OK, the information nonetheless revealed a small nugget of information that could be useful to baddies: The dog was sent after Baghdadi because he was wearing an explosive vest, so soldiers wouldn't have to be as close to any blast. No mention of the dog, and that tactical detail would have been a bit less publicized. Sure, the fact that US troops have bomb-sniffing and fighting dogs is no secret already, but just confirming a dog went along on this raid was a detail the military might not have wanted out there.
Other stuff was more potentially significant. Trump was very excited to share that the special forces blew holes in the walls of the compound instead of going through the door, and that they knew in advance that the house had tunnels underneath; even that some were dead ends and others provided possible escape routes, and that those openings were guarded. Such information, the officials told NBC, provide potentially useful information about US "sources and methods" -- nothing so deadly as the name of a source, but possibly enough to make terrorists change their own behavior.
Even the value of some of the intelligence gained during the raid may have been reduced by Trump's nifty fun show:
Revealing that the U.S. possesses documents about future ISIS plans hurts the military's ability to use that information for quick follow-on operations, officials said. The president's disclosure that the U.S. had taken ISIS fighters from the compound complicated efforts to try to keep ISIS from knowing who is alive or dead for as long as possible while they interrogate them, officials said.
Additional information, while not extremely high value, simply adds details the military might not want to get out,
such as that al-Baghdadi "had a lot of cash" and the president saying he was able to view the raid remotely "as though you were watching a movie."
The NBC report also notes the military and intelligence sources were simply baffled by some of the crazy shit Trump said:
A couple of the president's statements on Sunday were inaccurate or left U.S. officials wondering where he got his information, officials said. The president said when U.S. officials notified Russia it would be entering airspace in western Syria, they told the Russians, "We think you're going to be very happy." But that phrase was not said on the call with the Russians, a U.S. official said. Trump also said al-Baghdadi was "crying and screaming" as U.S. forces chased him down, but U.S. officials said they didn't hear those sounds, and Milley told reporters he doesn't know the source of the president's information on that.
OK, but look on the bright side here: Maybe since Trump lies and exaggerates so reliably, his leaks of actual spycraft stuff will be less damaging, since foes will assume everything he says is nuts. Let's not get our hopes up though, about the possibility that Trump will add a bullshit artist corollary to Nixon's infamous Madman theory of foreign policy.
Still, Trump's tendency to blurt out shiny secrets whenever he gets the chance could be a lot worse. Just imagine the damage he could do if he actually read or paid attention to his classified briefings.
Also, just for the sake of seeing how a real president acts, take a look at this brief compare-and-contrast essay from Jimmy Fallon:
We mashed up @BarackObama’s Bin Laden speech with @RealDonaldTrump’s al-Baghdadi speech, and the results are amazing https://t.co/Z8yfxSYWLd— Jimmy Kimmel (@Jimmy Kimmel)1572351207.0
And yet dogs definitely liked Obama better. That's telling, too.
Oh lord. We just had a terrible thought: What if Trump decides he should top Obama by demanding he be allowed to adopt the hero dog? We really hope we won't have to update this story with a "Called it!" That poor dog!
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.