Over the last few days, President Donald Trump has posted a good portion of his time ripping former FBI director James Comey and falsely accusing him of leaking classified information.
So it was ironic when Trump himself took on Twitter on Friday to release sensitive US military information that he received during a classified intelligence briefing earlier that day.
"The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during the launch of the Safir SLV launch at Semnan's Launch Site One in Iran," Trump tweeted . "I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One."
He was referring to a rocket launch Thursday at a space center in Iran that was confirmed by both Iranian and US officials. The explosion marks Iran's third consecutive failure in lifting a satellite into orbit, and Trump's line about wishing "Iran's best wishes and good luck in determining what happened".
Donald Trump / Twitter
Read more: US official confirms that Trump tweeted a picture from a classified intelligence briefing
19659008] The US 'rarely' disseminates such photos
Trump sent the tweet because of the photo that were also available.
In fact, the photo comes to contain specific markers. A US official also said CNN that the Iranian airspace. The US would not send a drone or manned aircraft into Iranian airspace.
Allison Puccioni, an imagery analyst and army veteran, wrote that although the US openly acknowledges that it has the capability to collect technical information about overseas proliferation, it "rarely" disseminates such imagery, "with a noteworthy exception of such images collected during the 2002-2003 runup to the Iraq War. "
"Trump's tweeted image was not any sensor" anyone in the open-source intelligence community can access, she added. Not sure what the political objective of dissemination was. "
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Cees Bassa, a professional astronomer who works at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, wrote that is based on the features of the camera, the images were captured by USA-224, one of four classified US spy satellites that are currently in orbit and are operated by the National Reconnaissance Office.
Bassa added, the satellites are believed to be ready to produce the sharpest images of the Earth's surface, and the actual resolution of the images is kept under wraps.
They are not yet published because their dissemination can help analysts – including, and especially, those who work for hostile foreign powers – discern the resolution of the satellites and make other inferences about the US's aerial surveillance capabilities.
Trump has not yet said it is tweeting it out. But one on the National Security Council told Insider they were not aware of any discussion of the matter.
A goldmine for foreign intelligence: 'The Russians and the Chinese want to be very happy to study this'
Robert Deitz, a former top lawyer at the CIA and the National Security Agency, told Insider Trump made a "serious mistake."
"It identifies for the world (not just Iran) the methods we have attained" in collecting imagery intelligence, which refers to information collected through photographs and other images, he said. "One does not use intel for the purposes of taunting. The Russians and the Chinese want to be very happy to study this."
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Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and adjunct professor at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, echoed that view, writing, "The propensity for saying the quiet part out loud is less amusing when it blows the multi-decade, multi-president Iranian missile and nuclear development with minimal loss of life. "
Trump's tweet comes after a week of national security blunders, and none more prominently than his fervent defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin at last weekend's G7 summit in France.
Trump's refusal to hold Russia's account for violating international law, and his readiness to give alliance with Russia, and his decision to blame his predecessor for Russia's actions were "right out of Putin's playbook," one former senior justice department official told Insider this week.
In fact, several current and former found Trump's actions so "unfathomable" that they raised – again – the possibility that the US president is an unwitting Russian asset.
With his tweet taunting Iran, Trump again invited blowback that he values his staff more than the country he represents.
"We spend some $ 70 billion a year on our intelligence capabilities, while countless professionals put their lives on the line," Edward Price, former senior director of the National Security Council under Barack Obama, told Insider. "And yet, Trump seems to have put at risk a key asset for absolutely no benefit."
Read more: Russia came out the winner of this year's G7 summed up, and Trump looked like 'Putin's puppet'
'Maybe he has a right to act this way, even if it is moronic '
John Sipher, who served as a CIA clandestine services officer for 28 years, told Insider that the Trump image could have come from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), and while it's unclear how sensitive the photo what, the NGA can quickly provide images at all classification levels, including unclassified images.
Referencing the possibility of trumps at the intelligence briefing by NGA employee, Sipher said, "It's possible the intelligence representative can
Moreover, experts said, just because the president has the authority to declassify anything he wants, he's still expected to act with the utmost discretion.
Trump's "release of the image consistent with his disability for foreign policy and intelligence expertise," Sipher said. "If he sees an immediate personal or political benefit, he does not feel any need to follow any rules, regulations, protocols, or even laws."
"The president does not care about protecting secrets," he added.
Alex Finley, another former CIA officer, agreed, telling Insider that Trump's actions were "outrageous and reckless," but that's hardly the first time we've seen this. even if it is moronic. "