There are a couple of things that were said in defense of President Donald Trump’s release of sensitive, formerly classified (until he released it) information to his Russian guests in the Oval Office.
Our National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster:
‘At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed,’ McMaster said.
It’s a finely crafted bit of wordplay from McMaster. You don’t have to discuss “intelligence sources” to compromise one (Valerie Plame being the lead example for the direct discussion of intelligence sources). All you have to do is admit knowledge that can only come from a limited source or sources, and you have given a foreign intelligence asset a leg up on identifying that source. And also given any such sources good reason to clam up rather than share what they know with our intelligence services. McMaster can be perfectly correct in his statement, and both the intelligence source at issue and our national security can still be screwed.
Our Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson:
“The nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
This confirms that *specific* information *was* shared, which is just the sort of thing that can assist foreign intelligence in doing their own leak identification. Tillerson, far from providing cover for the breach, confirms it happened.
Update: The news is that the intelligence source whose information Trump cavalierly exposed to the Russians was Israel. Let that sink in for a moment. Russia has a close ally in the region in Syria, whose regime has been hard-line against Israel essentially forever. The last time Trump told the Russians something the Syrians knew within minutes, too. And about the same for Russia and Iran, which is another trenchant enemy of Israel. Trump just gave the Russians some information that has implications concerning the intelligence capabilities of Israel, information that had been classified at top-secret codeword level to prevent letting even our allies piece together that sort of information about Israel. Of course, Israel was warned about the dangers of continuing to share sensitive intelligence with us during a Trump presidency. Hey, conservatives who measure presidents by their support of Israel, what do you think about that?