Retired U.S. Army Colonel, Mike Pheneger, said he was deeply troubled by the Washington Post report that President Donald Trump rereleased highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador.
According to the WaPo report, citing a U.S. official familiar with the matter, Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
“Several basic rules of intelligence procedures have been badly compromised,” Pheneger said. Pheneger was a U.S. Army Intelligence officer for 30 years. He was the first Director of Intelligence at U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB and served the intelligence community in Germany, Vietnam, Korea, Panama, and the Middle East.
Pheneger said Trump did not break any laws, but did violate the Third Agency Rule. Pheneger said that rules states “the contents of an agency’s document, report or other information in possession of shall not be disclosed to an individual without the prior consent of the originating agency.”
Pheneger said, if the WaPo report is true, whoever that source is, is in grave danger.
“That basically is going to send the Islamic state into a tizzy trying to find out who it was that cooperated,” Pheneger said. “What we did is tell them enough information where someone will be able to work back to the original source and if they do that they will probably kill him.”
The WaPo report says Trump shared information with the “Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.”
The information cited in the WaPo report says Trump bragged about his “great intel.” Offering information to the Russians regarding a specific terror plot and also telling Russian officials the Islamic State held city where the intelligence originated from.
“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,” the WaPo report said.
“Someone needs to sit the president down and force him to go through the basic rules that govern the intelligence operations of this country,” Pheneger said. “Cause it's pretty clear he doesn't understand them, at this point in time, and that could be tragic.”
Trump’s National Security Adviser, Lt. General H.R. McMASTER briefly addressed the WaPo report Monday night:
I have a brief statement for the record. There is nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people. The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation.
At no time, at no time, where intelligent sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the Secretary of the State, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on the record accounts should outweigh anonymous sources. I was in the room. It didn't happen.