Allies have become wary of sharing intelligence with the United States since President Donald Trump gave sensitive information about an Israeli covert operation to the Russians in May, reports Howard Blum for Vanity Fair.
The president boasted to Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the time that the United States had learned of an Islamic State plot to hide airplane bombs in laptops from a source deep inside the caliphate’s territory.
That spy turned out to be Israeli, raising concerns in the Jewish state that information shared with the Americans could, via Russia, find its way to their nemesis, Iran.
Michael Morell, a former acting director of the CIA, has publicly worried, “Third countries who provide the United States with intelligence information will now have pause.”
A senior Israeli military official was less circumspect, telling Blum, “Trump betrayed us.”
Why would he? Blum has three theories:
- Insecurity: “So there is the new president, shaky as any bounder might be in the complicated world of international politics, sitting down to a head-to-head with a pair of experienced Russians. How can he impress them? Get them to appreciate that he’s not some lightweight, but rather a genuine player on the world stage?”
- Short attention span: The president may have been told that one of the issues still on his guests’ minds would be the 2015 crash of a Russian airplane in the Sinai, suspected to have been a terrorist attack. With that seed planted in the president’s undisciplined mind, it’s a short leap for him to be off and running to the Russians about what he knew about an Islamic State scheme to target passenger jets.
- Conspiracy: “There are some petulant voices in official Washington who insist that the president’s treachery was deliberate, part of his longtime collaboration with the Russians.”
“This is war”
Whatever Trump’s motives, the consequences are damning. His administration has not only lost the trust of America’s allies but that of its own spy agencies.
“How can the agency continue to provide the White House with intel,” one former operative challenged, “without wondering where it will wind up?”
He added ominously:
Those leaks to The New York Times and The Washington Post about the investigations into Trump and his cohorts is no accident. Trust me, you don’t want to get into a pissing match with a bunch of spooks. This is war.