Six days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Haaretz reported that Israeli intelligence operatives weren’t certain that they could trust America’s new president:
Israeli intelligence officials are concerned that the exposure of classified information to their American counterparts in the Trump administration could lead to their being leaked to Russia and onward to Iran …
… The intelligence concerns, which have been discussed in closed forums recently, are based on suspicions of unreported ties between President-elect Donald Trump, or his associates, and the government of Vladimir Putin in Moscow. As Russian intelligence is associated with intelligence officials in Tehran, highly classified information, such as Israel’s clandestine methods of operation and intelligence sources, could potentially reach Iran.
It looks like such fears were well-founded: During a White House meeting with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister last week, President Trump shared highly classified information that was given to the United States by a key U.S. ally — who did not give our government permission to share it with Putin’s regime — according to reports from the Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, and the New York Times.
And now, the Times is reporting that Israel was said ally:
In the meeting with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, Mr. Trump disclosed intelligence about an Islamic State terrorist plot. At least some of the details that the United States has about the plot came from the Israelis, the officials said.
The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Israel previously had urged the United States to be careful about the handling of the intelligence that Mr. Trump discussed.
It isn’t a good idea to betray any ally’s trust by leaking their intelligence to the Russians — but betraying Israel’s in that manner is an especially bad one.
For one thing, Israel is one of the Middle East’s most prolific intelligence gatherers. For another, as mentioned above, few of our allies have more reason to fear the prospect of their intelligence sources and methods leaking to Russia, given Putin’s alliance with Iran.
Late Tuesday morning, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster defended Trump’s spur-of-the-moment decision to disclose highly classified information to the Russians.
“It’s wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people,” McMaster told reporters.
That claim is even less convincing now than it was two hours ago.