In a Twitter message posted on Friday, President Donald Trump denied U.S. involvement in an accident at a space center in Iran.
“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” the president tweeted.
Along with the message Trump posted a photograph of the launch site. In doing so, he may have revealed classified information, according to experts.
As HuffPost reported, experts — including Melissa Hanham, deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network — said the commander-in-chief appears to have tweeted a photograph of an image shown to him during a classified briefing, perhaps inadvertently sharing sensitive surveillance information with the world.
The president defended himself against criticism, telling reporters that he had an “absolute right” to release the photo via social media.
According to a new report from Business Insider, some intelligence veterans are baffled by the president’s decision to tweet what appears to be sensitive, or even classified, information.
According to John Sipher, who served as a CIA clandestine services officer for nearly three decades, the image Trump tweeted likely came from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and it may have been shared with the president during an intelligence briefing.
However, there is a possibility that the image was not classified or sensitive, according to Sipher, but the president’s tweet was nevertheless “consistent with his disdain for foreign policy and intelligence expertise.”
“If he sees an immediate personal or political benefit, he does not feel any need to follow rules, regulations, protocol, or even laws,” the former CIA official said, adding that the president’s tweet signals that he “does not care about protecting secrets.”
Former CIA officer Alex Finley agreed with Sipher, describing Trump’s actions as “outrageous and reckless.”
Finley added that the president has done similar things in the past, describing his actions as “moronic”
What did Pres. Trump disclose about U.S. surveillance technology on Twitter? You can bet our adversaries are poring over these images for clues. Could you imagine how Fox News would react if it was Pres. Obama? This demands more reporting and answers. https://t.co/knAq5gSCwx
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) August 30, 2019
“The Russians and the Chinese will be very happy to study this,” former CIA and National Security Agency (NSA) lawyer Robert Deitz said, explaining that the president’s tweet essentially shows the rest of the world what methods the United States uses to engage in surveillance activities.
According to Edward Price, who served as senior director of the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, Trump’s tweet may have even endangered the lives of “countless professionals.”
Price pointed out that the United States spends around $70 billion annually on intelligence, adding that the president “seems to have put at risk a key asset for absolutely no benefit.”