Ex-Mossad head Shavit: 'If tomorrow I were asked to pass information to the CIA, I would do everything I could to not pass it to them’

President Trump says that he wants to be "tough" on ISIS. No reasonable person could complain about that. The swift, decisive, measured and appropriate response he made to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is an example of one way this can be done, even if ISIS wasn't the target.

But ISIS doesn't generally operate against us directly. It operates against our allies, in areas of the world in which (whether or not the current administration acknowledges it) we have vital interests. Even leaving out the desirability of not putting "boots on the ground" in places and in numbers where it isn't required to defend out interests, those fighting ISIS on our behalf are usually not Americans at all. They're the military and intelligence services of our allies. Evan McMullin spent his career identifying and locating ISIS and al Quaeda leaders and facilitating their deaths. Many Americans inside and outside our clandestine services carry on that work today. But the major part of the burden will always be borne by our local allies, and even when we act directly, more often than not it's on the basis of information provided by those allies and their intelligence services.

Such was the case with the information about the ISIS plot to compromise aircraft security which Mossad obtained and shared with the United States, and President Trump recklessly blurted out in conversation with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister. We know that he gave them information about a city which could be enough to compromise the asset. A Mossad agent- or more than one Mossad agent- might die because the president wanted to brag. It may already have happened.

Beyond that, there is simply no way to overestimate the value of information developed by friendly intelligence operations, especially in the Middle East. When our president carelessly "burns" an Israeli asset, he undermines the confidence not only of Israel but of all of our allies in the degree to which the United States can be trusted with the information they share with us. We know that American intelligence officials, aware of President Trump's impulsiveness and lack of filters as well as the danger that key members of his administration might be compromised by their contacts with Russia, warned Israel last January to be careful about sharing sensitive information with an administration which could not necessarily be trusted with it. President Trump's blunder has vindicated that advice.

The Israeli foreign ministry says that it looks forward to continuing to work together with this administration against the common enemies of our two countries. But diplomatic niceties aside, Israel and Mossad, in particular, are as mad as hell, and rightly so.  Our man-child of a president has jeopardized out intelligence relationship with our most important ally in the region just so he could brag about something unimportant.

Here's a useful article by Daniel Byman on the crucial role foreign intelligence services play in our fight against ISIS, al Quaeda, and other terrorist groups.  It should demonstrate beyond any doubt why questions of whether President Trump broke any laws by sharing the information (including information which compromised the source) with the enemies of both Israel and the United States are beside the point.  The president hurt Israel when he decided that his need to brag was more urgent than the security of the source and safety of the Mossad agent or agents in question. He undermined a vital relationship we depend on to keep ourselves safe as well.


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