When we listen to the news, what are we trying to do? Well, supposedly we want someone to communicate to us what has been going on in the world that is “important” while we were sleeping, working, playing, or otherwise preoccupied. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to get an unbiased report. In fact, some people are devious.
Here we will consider an example of the work of the devious. The Washington Post put out this story, Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador, based upon unidentified sources.
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.
The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.
The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency. (continued here)
What is peculiar about the story is how The Washington Post goes on to tell us this:
The Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities. (from here)
Since when is okay to reveal highly classified information to a reporter? Yet The Washington Post‘s supposedly reliable sources did exactly that, supposedly.
Anyway, the White House emphatically denied the story.
The White House has denied a Washington Post report that Donald Trump revealed classified information when he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak last week.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters this Monday: “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.”
“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.”
“I was in the room — it didn’t happen.” (continued here)
Nevertheless, news organs such as The Associated Press breathlessly picked up the story.
On Monday, McMaster told reporters: “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.”
The revelations could further damage Trump’s already fraught relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies. He’s openly questioned the competency of intelligence officials and challenged their high-confidence assessment that Russia meddled in last year’s presidential election to help him win. His criticism has been followed by a steady stream of leaks to the media that have been damaging to Trump and exposed an FBI investigation into his associates’ possible ties to Russia.
The disclosure also risks harming his credibility with U.S. partners around the world ahead of his first overseas trip. The White House was already reeling from its botched handling of Trump’s decision last week to fire James Comey, the FBI director who was overseeing the Russia investigation.
The Royal Court in Jordan said that King Abdullah II was to speak by telephone with Trump later Tuesday, a conversation that was scheduled last week.
The revelation also prompted cries of hypocrisy. Trump spent the campaign arguing that his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should be locked up for careless handling of classified information.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disputed the report. He said Trump discussed a range of subjects with the Russians, including “common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism.” The nature of specific threats was discussed, he said, but not sources, methods or military operations. (from here)
The suggestion is that President Trump somehow fouled up and said more than he should have. Yet people whose names we have adamantly insist nothing untoward happen. So who are we supposed to believe?
Here is another report on the denials from the White House: McMaster: WaPo Story About Trump Sharing Classified Materials With Russians Is ‘False’ (freebeacon.com).
When we read stories like this, we need to keep something very basic in mind. It can be quite difficult to prove nothing wrong happened. Hence, we insist that those charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Has Washington Post provided any proof? Read and decide for yourself.