I was so filled with anger when I heard the news about President Trump revealing highly classified information to the Russians that I had to sleep on it before writing this article, lest it would come across as an emotional screed. As a former professional intelligence officer, I have been involved in several situations overseas where an individual revealed classified information to a third party without authorization.
In my experience, this usually happens when an ambassador reads an intelligence report and then calls the individual mentioned in the report to confirm the information without thinking of the consequences. I have been left to clean up the mess from the ensuing counterintelligence investigation launched by the host government. Thus, this type of thing is something I have very strong feelings about. Now, after a good night's sleep, I can deal with the situation in a relatively calm and rational manner.
As president, Trump has the legal right to declassify information and reveal classified information to his heart's content. He is the ultimate classifying authority. This, however, does not make it right; nor does it minimize the damage we are left with.
Trump did not act in the best interest of the United States when he revealed sensitive information on an Islamic State terror plot to the Russians. He has jeopardized a very important and likely unique source of intelligence into Islamic State plans and intentions, not to mention the important liaison relationship that led us to this information.
This makes it more difficult for the U.S. intelligence community to help protect Americans and the U.S. itself. Right now the Islamic State is conducting a counterintelligence investigation to find the source of this intelligence. If they have to, they will kill everyone involved in the operation just to plug the leak. The result is that we will go blind in this area, losing access to intelligence on this particular plot, and likely additional intelligence this source might have access to.
Luis Rueda is an OpsLens Contributor and retired CIA Operations Officer with over 28 years of experience in the clandestine service.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.