Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Loose Lips CINC Slips?

Is this a problem?

Trump shared ISIS-related information the US obtained from another country with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as with Russia’s ambassador to Washington, when the two visited the Oval Office May 10.

At a White House press conference May 16, national security adviser H.R. McMaster deemed the information Trump shared as “wholly appropriate” and further stated that the president wasn’t even aware of the country that provided the information. The New York Times reported that the source was Israel.

What worries intelligence officials is that the information shared – which US officials say concerned ISIS methods of placing explosives inside electronic devices like laptops – could be “reverse-engineered” to pinpoint the source or sources of the information.

The issue of the laptop bomb threat has been out there for a while. So the knowledge of that can't be a problem for our sources.

As awful as Putin has been, does anybody really wish Russian civilians to die in planes struck by tablet bombs? I don't. And I'm not a member of the Russian-American Friendship League to say the least.

Not that I'd go all out to save the Russians while they harm us elsewhere (and I don't forgive this). But this piece of information should not have been a surprise to the Russians.

And I don't believe that the CIA told President Trump the source of the information. I don't think the CIA would telly anyone the actual source of the information if it was remotely critical.

The implication of the affair is that the CIA used a source within ISIL that ISIL's counter-intelligence people will reverse engineer to catch. And kill.

But McMaster said no sources or methods were revealed.

I find the idea that we or an ally might have an important human source within ISIL far fetched. I find it far more likely that we used overhead surveillance (drone, aircraft, or satellite) or signals intelligence.

Maybe we were told by a non-ISIL person in the region who is angry about occupation by ISIL.

But by acting as if Trump revealed a key source--totally plausible given the media narrative that is amazingly selective about what outrages it--won't ISIL start killing their own people to plug that "leak."

And you can't dangle a better internal spy threat to ISIL than this:

Israeli intelligence experts are gravely concerned that U.S. President Donald Trump's sharing of classified information with Russia may have compromised an Israeli agent, but don't expect any long-term consequences for intelligence cooperation.

I worry that this might be pushing it. An Israeli agent? Not a Jordanian or Turk? An agent of the Jews? Luckily, jihadis aren't big on nuance.

Note that witch hunts in Pakistan by the Taliban had little effect on sources of information that guided drone strikes.

Stand back and enjoy the mayhem.

This is my guess about the whole affair.

UPDATE: President Trump could have screwed up, I admit. That is the alternate explanation.

But I can't believe that standard operating procedures for either the allied nation with the asset or our intelligence people would include the source of the information in the intelligence product.

But I don't have an intelligence background. So I don't know. Perhaps my imagination of how things can be screwed up is insufficient.

UPDATE: The Russians say Trump revealed nothing:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday he saw 'no secrets' in U.S. media reports of apparent security threats by Islamic state and conveyed by President Donald Trump last week.

I assume this is right. In part because I assume the Russians assume (God, my head is spinning) that Democrats will not believe the Russian denial and so send Democrats looking under beds again with renewed determination.

UPDATE: Here's how we have been taking down ISIL. Yeah, getting ISIL chasing "spies" is a good thing.