Up until now, all we knew for sure was that Trump leaked the details of an Israeli intelligence operation against ISIS in Syria to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.
It was widely assumed, including on my part, that he may have compromised an agent in the field. And that would be horrible, but what he actually disclosed seems worse to me.
According to the New York Times, Trump told the Russians that the Israelis had compromised ISIS computers.
Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago, the officials said. That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers.
The intelligence was so exquisite that it enabled the United States to understand how the weapons could be detonated, according to two American officials familiar with the operation. The information helped prompt a ban in March on large electronic devices in carry-on luggage on flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries to the United States and Britain.
If they had rare access to ISIS computers, and if that access was blown by Trump's disclosure, I'd say that's worse than endangering the life of a field agent. Intelligence on their bombmaking plans was apparently not the only thing the operation uncovered, so it's possible we still don't know the extent of the damage done by Trump's big mouth.
And aside from the implications for Israeli intelligence, what of our own interests? This valuable intelligence gathering operation gave us information that could save lives, but that spigot has been turned off.
I assume the details of this are being reported now because it was blown. The New York Times report does not say, but I assume they wouldn't publish this if they had reason to believe the operation was still working.