Last month, a scandal broke out when it became public knowledge that President Trump shared with the Russian foreign minister highly classified information—provided by Israel—about Islamic State’s plans to get bombs onto airplanes. The president was soon accused of jeopardizing Israeli and American intelligence operations against Islamic State (IS) by providing specifics about intelligence-gathering to an unfriendly nation.
What specifics in particular? Relying on information provided off-the-record by current and former U.S. officials, the New York Times undertook to disclose them. Israel, it reported, had been conducting an extremely sophisticated cyber-intelligence operation against IS that gave it access to detailed information about terror plots.
Now that this information has been published, writes Elliott Abrams, IS will surely be able to identify and guard against the “tool” that Israel is using to spy on its operations. Other countries, too, will likely be able to protect themselves against similar espionage, forcing Jerusalem to cease making use of a piece of software that likely took years to develop and could have otherwise yielded much more vital information.
It’s hard to tell how much damage was done, [by the president’s comments to his Russian guests], because he did not reveal how the information [about IS] was acquired. That task was left to the New York Times and to the American officials who leaked highly classified information to the Times. Those officials committed a crime. . . .
I don’t know whether the president’s disclosure infuriated Israelis, [as the Times reports], but I know that the Times’s unprincipled and irresponsible disclosure damaged not only Israel but our own safety. It helped IS. . . .
The officials who leaked to the Times leaked information of the highest sensitivity and classification, which is why I called it a crime. That leak, and the decision of the Times to print the story, endangers Israeli security and American security. To what end? What is achieved? . . . [I]t’s just a small part of a campaign against Trump. And it seems advancing that cause, for the leakers and the newspaper, trumps our security and that of an ally.