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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Surprise! A Reasonable Article about the Alleged Trump Leak

James Freeman explains why it is not wise to get too worked up over the alleged leak by President Trump to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Note that those who were present at the meeting between Trump and Putin deny the claims made by the Washington Post's article. The alleged sources for the article, on the other hand, are all anonymous.

I would add another point. If there were any information improperly given to Putin --if any-- we don't know exactly what it was. But it is very likely that more damage was caused by all the reports, truthful or not, that claim to divulge parts of the content and/or the source of the alleged info. For instance, ABC news was reported to have broadcast that the info in question came from Israel and that its source was an Israeli operative planted inside Da`ash. If there is such an Israeli agent, then such a broadcast was more likely to have endangered the agent than whatever Trump said.


Bear in mind that once in the Bush2 administration and at least once in the obama admin Washington intelligence personalities gave out info that was said to have harmed Israel. Those instances are forgotten.

If "news" outlets like ABC were so concerned with intelligence security, why then did they report on what they claim Israel's intel services have been doing? Or was Israel's name dragged in in order to create animosity and suspicion between the pro-Israel community and the president?

Another point is the credibility of the original "news" outlet for the story. It was first reported by the Washington Post. But the WAPO has been very hostile to Trump for many months and has devoted a great many pages and barrels of ink to besmirching him. For instance, I get an email from the WAPO just about every day. It contains links to stories in the newspaper that supposedly might be interesting to me --  or more precisely, to the average reader. For months now, I have seen a dozen or a score of articles every day knocking or besmirching Trump on all sorts of grounds. You can understand why I don't pay much attention to those "reports" which may or may not be true, but are often trivial in substance. In any event, they certainly become boring soon enough. 

Michael Ledeen points out another problem. Trump is facing hordes of Obama holdovers who are still in high positions. And ready to sabotage his administration and his policies at every turn [here].
Here is another issue: Powerful  press organs such as the Washington Post and the New York Time besmirch his image every day helped by partisan media "news" outlets like CNN. The Times called for impeachment of Trump, one complaint being that he lies. Well, Obama lied early and often. Yet the NYT & WAPO seldom if ever saw fit to disqualify Obama on those grounds. Could we be witnessing an attempted coup d'etat?



Freeman's article appeared in the Wall Street Journal:

McMaster and Commander

Trump’s national security adviser takes on the Washington Post’s anonymous sources.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster answers questions during a press briefing at the White House on Tuesday.
 National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster answers questions during a press briefing at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
By
James Freeman
Former government officials have been demanding anonymity from the Washington Post in order to discuss a meeting they did not attend at the White House. President Trump’s National Security Adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, who did attend the meeting, has been going on the record this week along with other attendees to knock down the resulting story. Yet much of the press still seems to credit the Post’s unnamed non-attendees.
Here’s the lede from the Post:
President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.
On Monday evening Gen. McMaster said in response:
The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The President and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the Secretary of State, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. And I was in the room. It didn’t happen.
On Tuesday the national security adviser elaborated on his remarks and took questions from reporters. At his Tuesday appearance in the White House briefing room, Gen. McMaster called Mr. Trump’s discussion “wholly appropriate” and consistent with the normal sharing of information on terror threats that occurs in high-level meetings with representatives of foreign nations. He said he was not concerned by Mr. Trump’s disclosures and had not contacted any foreign governments about them.
The anonymous sources quoted by the Post, on the other hand, appear to have very deep concerns, and the Post says that some of them even know what was said at the meeting. But many of the story’s harshest critiques of the President come from people who were not only not at the meeting, but are no longer in government:
“It is all kind of shocking,” said a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials. “Trump seems to be very reckless and doesn’t grasp the gravity of the things he’s dealing with, especially when it comes to intelligence and national security. And it’s all clouded because of this problem he has with Russia.”
Here’s another excerpt from the Post story specifically focused on the President’s discussion of a particular plot hatched by Islamic State:
“Everyone knows this stream is very sensitive, and the idea of sharing it at this level of granularity with the Russians is troubling,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official who also worked closely with members of the Trump national security team. He and others spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.
Now why are such subjects sensitive enough to require anonymity but not sensitive enough to avoid discussing with a Washington Post reporter? We normally think of current government employees needing to remain anonymous while leaking data to the press in order to keep their jobs, but it’s not immediately clear why all the former officials also deserve anonymity in this case.
It’s possible that the sources in this story understand that people not named Clinton may be punished if they are caught mishandling sensitive information they obtained while they were in government. But one would think that a former official could publicly opine that the President is recklessly sharing information without disclosing any particular details of intelligence or the way it is collected. This raises the possibility that the sensitivity problem relates to a source’s current and future employment rather than previous government service.
Not every organization enjoys having its employees publicly accuse the President of endangering national security. And even people without an institutional affiliation understand they run the risk of offending clients when they publicly stand behind a controversial idea. But of course the grant of immunity by a reporter denies readers the opportunity to evaluate sources for themselves and consider their possible agendas.
Readers can’t tell whether the former officials quoted by the Post are retired or work for defense contractors or think tanks or political operations—or perhaps at firms that have nothing to do with government.
But readers are able to evaluate H.R. McMaster. He has spent a highly distinguished career defending the United States. And he was at the meeting. And he’s on the record.
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Related topics:
Seth Rich: He revealed DNC emails to Wikileaks through an American Wikileaks associate in London. Rich was murdered in the summer of 2016:

Democratic Party hypocrisy in regard to leaking information to other powers, hostile powers

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