The day after Christmas, with a partial government shutdown under way, President Trump made his first visit to troops in a combat zone. These things are often predictable affairs, the stuff of photo-ops, meet-and-greets, rouse the troops with a speech — that kind of thing.
“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” a bomber jacket-wearing Trump told US troops during his visit to Iraq. And then he went on to apparently out some of them whose identities are supposed to be a closely guarded secret.
According to a pool report of the trip from Newsweek, the president at one point asked the chaplain of the Navy’s SEAL Team 5 to come over and get a photo with him. It turned into a video that Trump tweeted out, of him posing with other SEAL Team 5 members dressed in full combat gear, which inadvertently gave away the unit’s presence at the al-Asad Airbase in Iraq.
From Newsweek’s report: “The president’s video posted Wednesday did not shield the faces of special operation forces. Current and former Defense Department officials told Newsweek that information concerning what units are deployed and where is almost always classified and is a violation of operational security.”
This is the president’s tweet:
A Defense Dept. official told Newsweek, in response to this, that “The deployments of special operation forces, including Navy SEALs, are almost always classified events, as to protect those men and women that are on the front lines of every overt and covert conflict the United States is involved in. Even during special operation demonstrations for congressional delegations or for the president or vice president, personnel either have their faces covered or their face is digitally blurred prior to a release to the general public.”
Not this time, it seems.
Of course, this is not the president’s first security flub. The New York Times reported in October, for example, that Russian and Chinese spies listen in to Trump’s calls when he uses his personal iPhone, which he’s been counseled to get rid of. Among other examples, Trump in May 2017 famously revealed Israeli intelligence details in a private conversation with the Russian ambassador to the US just hours after Trump had fired FBI director James Comey.