National Beat Reporter
How much classified information should a president be allowed to disclose with foreign nations? This has become a legitimate question after President Trump revealed classified intelligence pertaining to Israel to Russian officials. Trump also disclosed the locations of two nuclear submarines with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
On Twitter, Trump defended himself by stating that he had an “absolute right” to share the information with Russian officials since it aided in the fight against terrorism, according to The New York Times. In concern to his disclosure of the nuclear submarines, Trump mentioned the submarines to affirm their presence near North Korea. North Korea has recently advanced its own nuclear arsenal.
Though the president has the final say in what information is disclosed with foreign nations, Trump and other officials should show caution and discretion when it comes to discussing highly sensitive information. This helps to ensure that relationships with allies are maintained and that our national security is not endangered.
Some may argue that the administration should be given some leeway since “it was not clear whether the president or other Americans in the meeting were aware of the sensitivity of what was shared.” It was only after the meeting that the information was “flagged as too sensitive to be shared.”
It may seem tempting to give the president a pass as he may have been ignorant of the exact nature of the information that he shared. Yet, such a revelation raises other concerns. If the president was unaware of the intelligence’s sensitivity, it would have been best if he had never revealed it. It is reckless to carelessly share information that relates to foreign allies. When dealing with classified intelligence, officials should be more cautious.
Representative Adam B. Schiff reveals another great reason why presidents should display great caution when disclosing intelligence. As quoted by The New York Times, a country that usually shares information with the U.S. “could decide it can’t trust the United States with information” after hearing the news.
If long term allies grow reluctant about sharing vital information with the U.S. out of fear that the president will disclose that information, this can greatly hinder our ability to detect and fight terrorist threats.
The New York Times adds, “Israel is one of the United States’ most important allies and runs one of the most active espionage networks in the Middle East.” Without key allies, the U.S. may lose valuable insight on the operations of ISIS which may put our national security at risk. Once again, this emphasizes why caution should be taken when one deals with classified intelligence. Reckless disclosure has the potential to alienate and drive away important allies.
One important note is that “Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets” reports The Washington Post. Though Trump is free to disclose information as he wishes, he should keep the consequences in mind. Sharing classified intelligence from allies “undercuts trust considered essential to sharing secrets.”
Relating back to Trump’s disclosures on the nuclear submarines in North Korea, it is important to note that “the Defense Department historically does not reveal the locations of its submarines, since keeping the vessels’ movements secret is key to their missions,” says The Hill. Through his reckless action, Trump has undermined our national security by sharing information that relates to one of our defense’s essential tools.
When it comes to the disclosure of classified information, presidents need to show great caution. Discretion will ensure that officials do not upset essential allies or threaten our national security.