To succeed, U.S. intelligence agencies need to cooperate. They coordinate their actions with colleagues around the world, as well as share information and resources for the benefit of the United States and these countries. As elsewhere, these relationships are built on a strong Foundation of mutual trust. But President trump has shaken that trust.
First reported by The Washington Post and then confirmed by Reuters and Buzzfeed. It turns out the President Wednesday during a meeting behind closed doors with Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak revealed top secret information. The Washington Post quoted anonymous officials who say with concern that such disclosure may jeopardize a very important source of intelligence related to ISIS.
Such arbitrary handling of classified intelligence information, and raises more General questions about how sloppy the secret of great importance can affect international relations, which is critical to ensure national security within the country.
In the framework of its powers
Representatives of trump’s public relations immediately denied the information about what the President said. “During the meeting, sources and methods of reconnaissance have not been discussed even once. No information about the conduct of military operations, in addition to well known, was not disclosed,” — said the national security adviser Herbert McMaster. Secretary Rex Tillerson said that trump “did not discuss sources and methods of reconnaissance and military operations.”
These negligent denial does not refute the message of The Washington Post, which reads as trump revealed the details of the process of intelligence gathering. But to put an end to the bellicose screams rang out in some democratic circles, it is necessary to say that trump did not break the law. “Any allegation that the President reveals information improperly, offensive and ridiculous — said WIRED former senior Director of intelligence. — This authority of the President. He is the highest authority assigns a security classification”.
In fact the same is said Senator John McCain, who declared to the Associated Press reporter: “of Course we don’t want the President to disclose classified information, however, the President has a right to.” This is true, but the legality of the actions of trump does not make these actions right. The President, on a whim, disclosing the secret materials of Russia, whose interests very often conflict with the interests of the United States, is well-founded concerns among America’s allies in the intelligence community. And this is very alarming, especially when you consider that the United States is highly dependent on such alliances.
The US share intelligence information with its allies for decades, and is an essential element of national security. “This is critical, says a former chief of staff of the Ministry of defence Keith Lowry (Keith Lowry). We can’t gather all the information. Other people have this access to information what is not here.” This exchange helps to combat a range of threats. In the first place, is terrorism, and trafficking, drug trafficking and so on. The success of the United States in countering these threats largely depends on international cooperation.
Such relations arise on a contractual basis and on the basis of mutual trust, which takes years. Therefore, it is quite difficult to decide what information can and should be shared, and with whom. “There must be a balance. What amount of information we can share? Whether its recipient is part of this group? To which he is entitled? What are the expectations from the exchange?— says Lowry. — There are many policies and when making decisions about what kind of information will get the great value has observance of the concluded agreements”.
But disclosure is an unexpected partner undermines all of these considerations. Such actions would also lead to exposing the whole chain to obtain intelligence information, because information is in the process of international spy game can go from France to Germany and from there to the United States. The protection of sources of information can be as important as the protection of the information itself. The enemy can learn a lot of secrets, getting this or that information. “All these relationships are very important and extremely delicate. To support them for a long time is quite difficult,” says John Parachini (John Parichini) employed by the Rand Corporation Director of the Center for intelligence policy (Intelligence Policy Center).
These relationships have been tested before last Wednesday’s meeting. “At the time the information was disclosed and [Chelsea] manning and [Edward] Snowden, says Parachini. — It undermines US credibility and to their ability to keep secret important information. Other countries may have certain doubts as to the permissibility of sharing of intelligence information with us.”
A second former senior Director of intelligence, who requested anonymity, said this more sharply: “Such stories can have a frightening impact on the relationship between intelligence in all directions”.
A few degrees lower
But despite such circumstances, the former intelligence officers believe that as a result of mistakes and even a few missteps, the United States will not be completely excluded from the international network for the exchange of intelligence information. “Foreign policy is not a game on the principle of “who.” Here everything is much more difficult, says a former intelligence official. — Sometimes certain things become the topic of conversation of diplomats, but I don’t know of any historical fact when such things would lead to the destruction of the very complex set of interstate relations.”
The United States made an important contribution to the work of the international intelligence community, and this should help to further strengthen such relations. Just the American intelligence service can lot to offer to its allies. “We are important in the field of exchange of information, says Parachini. — People would not stop to exchange information with us; but for all this, they in certain cases can become more cautious and circumspect”.
This is the dilemma, which was created today trump. In the present situation the United States can get access to most but not to all intelligence gathered by the allies. “Other countries have no choice, and they will be forced to continue to work with us, says former analyst of CIA Perez of Aki (Aki Peritz). But with the advent of more dreadful revelations about the working methods of today’s White house, our allies in the future will be to carefully think before to give us important intelligence information.”
What did trump is not a violation of the law and can not cause direct and immediate damage. But if at least one of our partners to think about is whether you can trust America their secrets, so the damage is already done.