posted at 9:21 pm on May 16, 2017 by John Sexton
Earlier today the NY Times revealed that the intelligence President Trump shared with Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week came from Israel (though Trump didn’t know that at the time). According to a report at ABC News, the real concern was over the safety of an Israeli spy monitoring ISIS:
The life of a spy placed by Israel inside ISIS is at risk tonight, according to current and former U.S. officials, after President Donald Trump reportedly disclosed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week.
The spy provided intelligence involving an active ISIS plot to bring down a passenger jet en route to the United States, with a bomb hidden in a laptop that U.S. officials believe can get through airport screening machines undetected. The information was reliable enough that the U.S. is considering a ban on laptops on all flights from Europe to the United States…
“The real risk is not just this source,” said Matt Olsen, the former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center and an ABC News contributor, “but future sources of information about plots against us.”
It’s worth noting that the ABC News story barely delivers on the promise of its headline (“Trump’s disclosure endangered spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, officials say”). The story repeats that claim in the first sentence, but beyond that, the spy and his situation are barely mentioned. It’s also worth noting that Matt Olsen, the person who comes close to saying what the headline claims, worked for Obama and before that for Attorney General Eric Holder. So it’s at least possible that there’s a bit of partisan piling on happening here.
On the other hand, the idea that someone was potentially in danger here seems entirely plausible. The information about the laptop plot had to come from somewhere and ISIS is known to be extremely careful about electronic communications. So the most likely scenario was a spy on the ground. The fact that the spy is working with Israeli means he (or she?) would be in extreme danger if discovered.
We’ll have to wait for more detail to know how much danger this person was in. This morning I would have bet there would be nothing more interesting to the media but given what broke this afternoon about Comey’s memo, this story may now be on the back burner for awhile.