On Monday, the Washington Post ran a story claiming U.S. President Donald Trump had divulged highly classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a meeting in the Oval Office. The Post came by this information via former and current U.S. officials who continue to remain anonymous.
Trump’s national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, was tasked with mitigating the damage of this leak. However, any success he had at the time (which was very little) was seriously undermined by Trump’s statements that he did, in fact, divulge the information — and that he had every right to do so.
Let’s examine the issues here. According to the Washington Post, Trump gave his Russian counterparts information “considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government.” Specifically:
“Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.”
Apparently, this information was too sensitive for Trump to give to Russian representatives, but not too sensitive for anonymous officials to leak to the Washington Post, who turn broadcasted it to the entire world. Although the Post hasn’t divulged the minute specifics of this classified information, the outlet did state the following:
“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.”
In other words, the Post also knows the details of this classified information. Anonymous officials can leak sensitive information to an unaccountable media outlet, but Trump can’t disclose that information to a delegation of people who could actually benefit from the information? How does that work?
Well, one could argue that the ends justify the means, and the conduct of some rogue officials should not in any way absolve Trump from his behavior. Yet even the Post notes Trump didn’t do anything illegal. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify information, making it unlikely he overstepped his authority or broke the law in sharing this information with Russia.
Not to mention that the general details of this information are already known to the public at large, as the mainstream media has already reported on the topic. Just how sensitive is this information, anyway?
It is also worth noting that despite the neoconservative agenda — as regurgitated by the corporate media — Russia is actually one of the only governments that is genuinely combating ISIS militarily. A recent report compiled by the London-based IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center found that the Syrian government and its allies were the most heavily engaged entity fighting ISIS last year. The fact that Russia provides air cover to the Syrian military is quite telling of its desire to defeat ISIS, especially compared to the U.S.-led coalition, which is more or less all over the place with an incoherent strategy and partnership. (Members of the U.S.-led coalition directly sponsor ISIS.)
So, what is the actual issue with this story? That no partnership should ever be attempted, let alone achieved, with Russia? That the country that originally divulged the information to the Trump administration never authorized its disclosure to anyone else? This latter problem certainly undermines confidence in Trump’s ability to manage sensitive information, but it would not be a stretch to say this kind of thing probably happens all the time. For example, New Zealand spies on Pacific Island countries and even important U.S. allies such as Japan. It then passes the information on to the NSA. Australia spied on the Indonesian president in a joint operation with the NSA, as well. None of this is authorized by the host country, but no one bats an eyelid if the U.S. is on the receiving end of the intelligence.
According to Russian-state owned RT, Russian president Vladimir Putin is ready to release a full transcript of the meeting in question to prove that no sensitive leak took place in the first place. Once again, we are witnessing the kind of back and forth tennis match between Trump, the media, and Russia that has plagued our television sets since the election. Why is this narrative dominating our discourse right now?
If you’re up in arms about this story, calling for Trump’s impeachment while remaining completely indifferent to the fact that Trump has empowered his military generals to massacre Iraqi civilians by the thousands, you’re likely part of the problem that has engulfed America.
This Washington Post story is quite possibly a distraction (one of many distractions taking place right now). Most of the corporate media is paying very little attention to a story that broke on Fox News regarding the murder of DNC staff member Seth Rich, who many believe to be behind the leaks that rocked the Democratic campaign last year. Much like the Post, Fox News also relied on an anonymous source, but the story appeared to contain a crucial difference at first. A former D.C. homicide detective and Fox News commentator, Rod Wheeler, who was hired by Rich’s family to probe the case (he is not an anonymous source) seemed to confirm there was email exchange between Rich and Wikileaks, stating, “I do believe that the answers to who murdered Seth Rich sits on his computer on a shelf at the DC police or FBI headquarters.”
However, this story too has almost all but run into a dead-end, as Wheeler has completely undone the comments Fox News reported. According to CNN, Wheeler was actually referring to reports within the media and said he only learned of any potential link between Wikileaks and Rich from a reporter at Fox News. Whether or not someone threatened Wheeler into overturning his comments is irrelevant, because without direct proof of any link between Rich and Wikileaks the story is no more convincing than Washington Post’s numerous Russia-gate conspiracies.
While both sides of the political coin incessantly chase these rabbit-hole windmills in order to try to demonize or absolve Russia of the numerous allegations against them, something far more sinister is playing out behind the curtains.
As much as the mass media would like to pretend Trump is really in bed with Russia – and as much as the Trump administration has proven itself to be adept at playing along with this narrative – the truth is that Syrian troops backed by Russian airpower were advancing towards an American training base in Syria over the weekend. The doomsday clock is ticking, and Russia and the U.S. are seconds away from an all-out confrontation. The neocons within the Trump administration want these wars to go ahead as planned, but the nationalists who bolstered Trump in his bid to become U.S. president do not.
The other disturbing aspect of this Washington Post story is that unless someone from within Trump’s meeting in the Oval Office directly spilled this information to the Post, the transfer of this information to the media entails that the CIA could very well be spying on Trump, too.
As it transpires, the Washington Post is practically in bed with the CIA, anyway.
The CIA has an agenda, and they want to quell any hopes of a potential peaceful future between Russia and the U.S. Without the American public fearing a Kremlin monster hell-bent on world domination, the CIA and many other global institutions would cease to have any real meaning or purpose.
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Contributed by Darius Shahtahmasebi of theantimedia.org.
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