Yet, classified details of the meeting leaked to press outlets by either the CIA or NSA shows massive breaches of valuable sources and details from inside U.S. intelligence agencies are now damaging international security.
U.S. allies around the globe are expressing grave concerns that this latest leak is but one example of a flood of CIA and NSA breaches of secret information.
Recent security failures by the CIA and NSA include a massive leak of computer software weapons, national security surveillance assets and details of covert operations. U.S. intelligence partners, international corporations, and even Russian President Vladimir Putin have expressed grave concerns that the breaches of American intelligence systems are wreaking havoc around the globe.
According to the Washington Post, Trump gave Moscow details of intelligence gathered on ISIS threats against civilian airliners.
The Post reported that while Trump did not describe the specific source used to gather the intelligence, he provided highly classified details to the Russian representatives, revealing an ISIS plot to use laptop computers to plant bombs onboard airline flights. The laptop bomb threat has led several nations to consider a ban on passengers carrying portable computers outside of the luggage hold.
As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
U.S. based ABC News, citing un-named intelligence sources inside the government, later reported the source of Trump’s information was Israel. The U.S. media sources, who are often at odds with the new President, stated the information shared with the Russians jeopardized this critical intelligence source and was released without the consent of Israeli officials.
The information was considered so sensitive that the White House secretly informed the CIA and NSA of its release to Moscow. However, immediately after the classified notification to Langley and Ft. Meade, someone inside of one of these two agencies leaked the data to ABC news. The publication of the story leaked to the press by the CIA or NSA notified ISIS leaders that their plans for terror attacks may have been penetrated.
Additionally, the recent CIA and NSA-sourced computer malware leaks have crashed major portions of the Internet and threatened lives inside the UK’s chain of hospitals linked to its national health care service. Hospitals, schools, companies and governments around the world are assessing the damage done after a massive cyberattack linked to a stolen NSA malware weapon code-named Eternal Blue. The cyberattack hit almost 100 computers with WannaCry malware that demanded ransom payments.
The leak from the White House meeting clearly shows that U.S. breaches have also exposed the classified operations of allied intelligence agencies such as the Israel’s Mossad, the UK’s GCHQ and Germany’s BND. Both GCHQ and BND have had classified operations exposed by CIA and NSA documents published on the Internet by unknown sources.
The additional leak from the U.S. intelligence services on the White House meeting has now exposed Israeli intelligence sources to ISIS.
The press leaks, stolen documents and computer source codes published on the Internet revealed the hacking capabilities of the CIA and NSA in detail, hampering the U.S.’s ability to infiltrate ISIS. The CIA and NSA leaks also undermine American capability to conduct espionage against strategic adversaries such as Iran, North Korea, China and Russia.
Fred Fleitz, a senior vice president for policy and programs with the Center for Security Policy and a former CIA analyst, expressed concern over the U.S. intelligence leaks in an Op/Ed for the Fox News Network.
“The real scandal here concerns the current and former U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Post to generate this story. We don’t know if these sources lied, misrepresented what went on in the Trump meeting with the Russians, or were second-guessing what Trump told them,” noted Fleitz.
“We do know that current U.S. officials — possibly with the NSC and intelligence agencies — originated this story and revealed highly classified intelligence to the Post as part of their leaks. They were joined by former U.S government officials who I assume worked for the CIA and the Obama NSC. These people committed felonies. They must be identified and prosecuted.”
Meanwhile, Israeli leaders seem unconcerned that Russia was privy to the White House data on airline attacks and instead declared that U.S./Israeli relations are unaffected by the revelation. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman released a statement on Twitter that the close security ties between the two countries will continue.
“The security relationship between Israel and our great ally, the United States, is deep, significant and unprecedented in scope and contribution to our strength,” Wrote Liberman.
President Trump immediately took steps to minimize the damage in relations that the leaks could cause and called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Relations between the White House and Netanyahu were strained during the Obama years and even led the Obama administration to openly support Netanyahu opponents during Israeli elections. The nearby Syrian civil war and the war against ISIS have also strained Israeli relations with Washington.
“Israel is not a friend of [ISIL] but they also haven’t really been in direct conflict with each other,” stated James Walsh of the University of North Carolina Charlotte, author of The International Politics of Intelligence Sharing.
According to Walsh, Washington provides massive amounts of intelligence to its global partners, and American assistance is far too important for Israel to be openly critical.
“If it was something super sensitive about Iran that actually undermined Israeli security, that would be a much bigger issue,” noted Walsh.
What has not been widely published in the American press is that Russia and Israel are not only co-operating with each other on aviation security but have good diplomatic relations despite the war in nearby Syria. This is because nearly 20 percent of Israelis have Russian ancestors. In fact, Russia is still a major source of Jews immigrating to Israel.
Israel has become the number one Middle East tourist attraction for Russia since the 2015 destruction of Metrojet Flight 9268 from Egypt over the Sinai. The Metrojet was destroyed by an ISIS bomber, killing 224 passengers and crew. 219 of the dead were Russian nationals.
Shortly after the crash, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)’s Sinai Branch, previously known as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the attack. In response, Israel offered to assist Russia and Egypt with surveillance and intelligence if needed.
Russian tourists have stopped going to the Egyptian resorts because of the terror threat and instead are flocking to Israel. The upsurge in flights from Russia and Israel brought additional security fears in Moscow and Tel Aviv since both nations are considered targets for ISIS terror attacks.
It is logical that Israel would also share high value intelligence information with Moscow on aviation security since it is in the interest of both nations to keep their joint air travel safe. The open offer made publically after the Metrojet attack underscores the long standing close relationship between Moscow and Tel Aviv.
About the author: Charles R. Smith is CEO of Softwar Inc. a US based information warfare company and a former national security journalist.
(Security Affairs – Trump, hacking)