As president, Donald Trump may have the right to declassify sensitive top secret information even as he shares it with the Russians but that doesn’t mean his loose lips don’t have the potential for leading to real consequences.
Robert Baer, a former CIA operative who has worked extensively in the Middle East, said on CNN that a leak about plans to combat Isis which Trump is alleged to have made could put lives at risk.
“[Speaking] as a former case officer at the Central Intelligence Agency,” said Baer, who is an intelligence and security analyst for CNN, “getting a source inside the Islamic State (Isis) is almost impossible.”
“We rely on our allies,” continued Baer, “whether it’s Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Israel to get inside these groups. They’re closer. This is part of their world. To lose these sources, to lose these liaison services is a catastrophe.”
“We have to understand,” added Baer, “that breaches like this will get Americans killed eventually. There’s no better way to put it.”
Juliette Kayyem, the former assistant secretary for homeland security, also said on CNN that the intelligence source is “likely dead” or will be dead due to this kind of leak.
There is also grave concern that if Trump did give out this kind of dangerous classified information, it could damage the U.S. relationship with the other intelligence sources, and make them hesitant to share top secret intelligence in the future.
The Russians are also likely to share what they have learned with their allies in Syria and Iran, which could have other consequences.
Despite conditional denials by Trump’s surrogates, including National Security Advisor Herbert McMaster, it is widely believed the president did share information that he would have done better to keep private.
This is even more credible because of Trump’s history of speaking off-the-cuff abut things which should be private and in some cases speaking in ways that make clear it has not been well thought out in advance.
Being president is not a game or a job for someone who can’t, or won’t, keep secrets, especially those that can put other people’s lives in jeopardy. It is another reason that Trump can’t be trusted, and should not hold such a sensitive position.