One of the most notable (and diabolical) features of the Cult of Trump is it’s constant habit of using accusation as a form of confession. What it declares its enemies guilty of is, again and again, a confession of its own deepest desires and evils. So, for instance, the great rallying cry of the Cult was the accusation that Clinton was a menace to national security. So it elected a dolt who hands classified information to Russian spies in the Oval Office and who tweets out classified intelligence photos that will get Americans killed. But, stupid to the last, the Cult declares that since the moron doing the tweeting is the President and that this therefore makes it technically legal, there’s no problem.
Rob Hansen writes… well, not for their benefit since they are too eternally pig-headed to admit they are now backing a traitor but for all the Normals who see what a danger this dunce and Russian asset is:
“Gather round, kids.
Mr. Trump tweeted out a high-resolution image of an Iranian missile test. For a good three or four minutes I was literally reduced to whimpering. A former Air Force Office of Special Investigations friend told me in lieu of drinking heavily he was curled up in a fetal position on the couch. Another friend who served in an allied intelligence service — well, we’ll get into his feelings in a bit: let’s just say they’re not positive. There seems to be a lot of people losing their heads over this. Brett Johnson wants to know why.
Let me start by saying that it’s a completely reasonable question. Anybody who wants to mock him for asking why needs to do it somewhere other than here. The problem with this completely reasonable question is that wow, really, where to begin, there is so much terrible here to choose from.
Let’s start with the image itself. It was released via tweet and the President’s personal account, which is already troubling. The President’s account is, to put it lightly, uncensored. It does not get vetted through official channels. It is the President’s stream-of-consciousness outlet to the world. This already should give people concern in the, ‘wait, was this image vetted by the intelligence community?’ sense.
In fact, there is evidence it was not.
The next thing you’ll notice about the image is there’s a bright spot in the center. Thanks to a gloriously misspent life, I can tell you that’s probably a cellphone camera flash off a projection screen. (Probably. If the image were higher-resolution I might be able to tell you if the cellphone model is consistent with the President’s cellphone model.) This is not a normal way of getting copies of classified material. If you talk to people who have had the responsibility of protecting classified material and ask them, ‘what would you do if someone in a classified briefing broke out a cell phone and started taking pictures of the slides?’ the answer would very possibly involve a body tackle and holding the person on the ground until security arrived. The cell phone would never leave the briefing facility. The person’s career would immediately end. You may think I’m kidding: I am not.
Generally speaking, the only time someone is alone in a briefing room with a classified slide deck is when they’re the person delivering the presentation and they’re setting up for it. The person(s) delivering this briefing didn’t need to take a photo of it: they already have the images. That photograph was taken by a briefing attendee, using a cellphone camera, with flash. There is no way other people in the room did not know what was going on. Whoever was in the room knew something was wrong, and they were unable to prevent it from happening.
Put it together and what you get is a pretty good circumstantial case that Mr. Trump took his cell phone into a classified briefing room and, in the middle of the presentation, took a flash photograph of a slide he liked. Whoever was in the room likely tried to persuade him not to, likely explained the massive violations of White House policy and guidelines for handling classified information, and was unable to persuade Mr. Trump to simply _not take a photograph of a classified briefing._
I can’t believe I’m typing those words.
They couldn’t persuade him to leave his cell phone at the door. They couldn’t persuade him not take a photograph of a classified briefing.
The next question is whether what he released was national security information. One person commented — quite foolishly — that ‘obviously’ the intelligence community signed off on the release. I’m unaware of any evidence for that. I see what looks like it could have been a classification marking in the upper left hand corner, which is now obscured by a blackout bar. But that’s not how documents are declassified. When documents are declassified it’s either because enough time has passed for them to be automatically declassified, or because an appropriate authority has declassified them. In the former case, you’ll see markings like ‘Classified Until’ and a date. In the latter case you’ll see markings like, ‘Declassified on [date], by [person].’ We don’t see those markings here. We know it’s declassified, because Mr. Trump assures us it’s declassified. But it sure wasn’t declassified through the normal process.
So far here’s what we have strong circumstantial evidence to believe: that Mr. Trump took his cell phone into a classified briefing, that he took a photograph of a slide, he bypassed normal declassification channels, and posted it to Twitter.
So that’s the first problem, Brett. His defenders will claim nothing he did was illegal, and that’s true: the President stands superior to all policies regarding classified materials. He has unlimited discretion to violate those policies as he wishes. But with that power must come accountability, in the form of Congressional hearings for the *abuse* of that power.
So let’s see if his use of power was responsible. Let’s start by looking at our international partners.
The intelligence community has an analogue to NATO. It’s called the Five Eyes, and is as close as you’ll find to a league of gentlemen among the heartless bastards of the intelligence community. The Five Eyes are the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The United States is the big bruiser of the Five Eyes, with capabilities the others can’t match — but at the same time, never underestimate the ability of these other nations to get human assets in interesting places because they’re *not* Americans. A few years ago when there was an Al Qaeda plot to pack bombs in printer toner cartridges and load them onto airlines, we managed to foil those murderous intentions because Great Britain had a guy on the inside tipping us off. We give a lot to the Five Eyes. We also get an awful lot back. It is fair trade in the best sense of the word: everybody is better off as a result of the information sharing among the Five Eyes.
Right now the United Kingdom is having a massive dust-up with Iran. Iran has been seizing British ships on the high seas. The British Navy has about two dozen warships. They’re superb warships with superb crews, but they only have about two dozen. They cannot be everywhere in the world they need to be, and they are massively dependent on good intelligence to let them know where they need to be. The United States has all kinds of surveillance assets operating in the Middle East right now: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan. And I will bet my bottom dollar that we are giving our friends in Great Britain priority access to Iranian surveillance, in order to help them find their seized ships, keep track of Iranian Navy operations, and more.
Imagine you’re a Secret Intelligence Service (what was formerly called ‘MI6′) analyst who just turned on the BBC.
The American President has just told Iran just how good our surveillance is. And that’s going to affect the calculus for how Great Britain protects *its* national interests, because now the Iranians know what level of coverage the British are likely getting.
Mr. Trump didn’t just reveal *our* capabilities when he tweeted that improperly-taken, improperly-declassified picture.
He revealed *the Five Eyes’ capabilities*.
I promise you, the nations of Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand are all having the screaming heebie-jeebies over this.
But wait, it gets worse.
This isn’t the first time Mr. Trump has jeopardized the safety of our allies. Do you remember two years ago when some murderous lunatic detonated a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert in London? Their Security Service (‘MI5’) immediately shared with us highly confidential photographs of the crime scene. The FBI gave the Security Service assurances that we would protect it. We had to, because if those photographs were to be leaked it would have jeopardized Great Britain’s ability to prosecute the perpetrator in court. (UK law is pretty strict about pre-trial publicity: unnecessary public disclosure of evidence creates massive problems for the Crown Prosecutorial Service.)
And yet somehow those photographs appeared in the _New York Times_. Jeopardized the prosecution of terrorism suspects, and why? Because someone in the White House (we do not know it was Mr. Trump) could not be bothered to properly care for confidential documents shared by an ally.
Two years ago we violated the UK’s ability to prosecute a terrorist. Today Mr. Trump has announced to the world exactly how good a view on the world the UK is getting from us.
I am terrified, Brett — I am genuinely terrified — that the next time Great Britain discovers an Al Qaeda plot to stuff plastique into printer toner cartridges and put them on 747s, they’ll say, ‘we should wait, let’s not share this with the Americans just yet unless it’s absolutely necessary, you know how their President tweets things.’
_And that will get Americans killed._
Some people will say, ‘wow, Rob cares an awful lot about allied intelligence capabilities,’ as if I somehow shouldn’t care about them. Yes, I care about our connections with allied intelligence agencies, _because it keeps Americans alive._ These intelligence sharing agreements _keep Americans alive_ and Mr. Trump is jeopardizing them.
I don’t know what kind of storm is brewing within the Five Eyes over this. I couldn’t begin to imagine. But there is absolutely no reason to think this was announced to our partners in advance, or that we asked their opinion on whether publishing this would jeopardize their national security interests, or anything else.
This tweet will get Americans killed.
And let’s not even get into Australia. Australia’s living in a bad neighborhood. You’ve got an expansionist China, a North Korea that’s throwing rockets off every which way, there’s…good grief. Now all of Australia’s adversaries are studying the Iranian missile site and thinking, ‘mmhmm, so _that’s_ the quality of intelligence Sydney is receiving.’
Brett, you said that you thought Iran already knew our capabilities. Maybe, maybe not. But do you think China knew them? China and North Korea? China and North Korea and Cuba? China and North Korea and Cuba and Syria? China and North Korean and Cuba and Syria and Russia? China and North Korea and Cuba and Syria and Russia and every other place that thinks the West needs to be taught a lesson?
Mr. Trump gave valuable information about our surveillance capabilities to _all of them._
Words fail me.
Brett, this is bad. This is really, really bad. And even with as many words as I’ve written here, I’ve only scratched the surface of why it’s bad.
Why is it bad?
Because it shows that Mr. Trump cannot be persuaded to follow standard policies on the handling of national security information.
Because it shows that he’s not listening to his advisors who shriek in horror when he breaks out a cell phone in a briefing.
Because it shows that he hasn’t learned from his administration’s past mistakes with releasing confidential photographs belonging to Her Majesty’s government.
Because it shows that he doesn’t think.
Because every time he does this he’s inflicting a terrible wound on the international cooperation that keeps Americans safe.
Because it shows he doesn’t know or care how it’s going to impact our allies.
Because he’s going to get Americans killed.
That’s why it’s bad.
That’s why when I saw this photograph I wanted to drink heavily.
Now, if you’ll pardon me, my Scotch awaits.”
– Rob Hansen
What does this have to do with the gospel, you ask? Simply this: when it all comes crashing down it will be the massive pride and blindness of the liars who saw themselves as the Greatest Christians of All Time and who backed this crook to the end that will be remembered and cursed by generations yet unborn. Meanwhile, disciples of Christ and people of good will who saw and who spoke and who warned and who resisted will be left to pick up the pieces.