Friday, May 19, 2017
What can it hurt if the president of the United States surprises his staff by declassifying something to the Russians? Aren’t the Rooskies fighting terrorism in the Middle East, too? Not to mention along their borders. What can it hurt if the president, maybe boasting a bit, lets the Russians’ foreign leaders know he knows stuff? And gets really, really great briefings every day.
What can it hurt if the president lets something slip that the Russians can reverse-engineer back to its source? What can it hurt to drop the name of a plot in a foreign city — information that was trusted to us by another country? The Russians might need to be impressed. Besides, they probably already knew. What can it hurt?
What can it hurt if the president wants to “start a dialogue” with another powerful nation, or maybe just let them know that we have our ways of finding out, too? Maybe even give ’em a scare? What can it hurt?
——————According to dispatches, the Syrian government has built a large crematorium inside its military prison at Saydnaya just outside Damascus to do away with the bodies of those it kills on frequent occasion. Word has it that dozens of Syrians are hanged at once when the government gets the itch—sometimes 50 or more at a time—and nobody there wants the bodies to pile up. Or be counted. Or, perhaps one day, entered into evidence. So the government’s killers remembered some tricks from their predecessors at Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen . . .
Stuart Jones is this country’s acting assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. In a special and rare news conference the other day, he said the mass murders and cremations and other atrocities in Syria have been carried out “seemingly with the unconditional support from Russia and Iran.” Human rights outfits around the world agree.
Russia, Mr. Jones said, “has either aided in or passively looked away as the regime” engaged in mass murder. And our Fighting Russian Allies — as they were known in the early 1940s but not since — are either aiding or ignoring other atrocities. Such as the bombings of hospitals and the use of chemical weapons on kids.
The murderous Bashar al-Assad regime must go. Who says so? Only recently, the current presidential administration in Washington. As recently as Monday, the current president’s spokesman said although Syria’s people should decide for themselves who leads them, any future under Mr. Assad is “unimaginable.”
But the Vladimir Putin regime in Russia is propping up Syria’s government hoods. As is Iran.
THIS IS why it can hurt when the president of the United States — who famously doesn’t read books, and demands one-page handouts on problems before briefings — gives the Russians information about our intelligence in the Middle East. That’s why only the willingly blind tell pollsters this isn’t a big deal. When leaders among the Republicans in Congress, commentators on Fox News, and the president’s own people acknowledge the damage done, maybe even President Trump’s enablers can take off the blinders. If only for a minute. His own people didn’t run to the NSA and CIA to warn our spooks for nothing.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that intelligence is not to be confused with intelligence. Fair point.
But the president of the United States has got to be more careful. Back when we still had Fighting Russian Allies, loose lips sunk ships. These days, they can do a lot more damage than that.
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