Email #164: “great intel”?

President Trump divulged the highest level of classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Kislyak on May 10, the day after he fired FBI Director Comey. The President revealed “great intel” about a terrorist plot provided by another nation’s undercover source working within ISIS and named the city within ISIS territory where the source is working. The information was so sensitive it had not been shared with other allies. By divulging it, the President jeopardized the safety of the operative, the likelihood of the operative gaining further information, and the information-sharing arrangement with the source’s country.

While any other government official would be prosecuted, I understand that the President is exempt because he has the authority to declassify even the most sensitive information. But he still must be held accountable for his actions. Based on your past statements regarding classified information, I assume you agree.

You said in March:

“All leaks of classified information have the potential to erode the American people’s trust in their government’s ability to protect both the security of our country and privacy of U.S. persons.”

When President Obama commuted Army Private Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence in January, you said:

“Private Manning betrayed the United States by providing classified national security information to WikiLeaks. In leaking sensitive government documents, Private Manning jeopardized both the safety of Americans deployed overseas and the security of the United States. These treasonous actions warrant a full prison term, not a shorter sentence.”

Regarding Secretary Clinton’s use of an insufficiently protected email server to communicate classified information, you said in October:

 “It seems clear that Secretary Clinton and her associates played fast and loose with our national security, and yet no one – not a single person involved in this harmful fiasco – has been held accountable.”

In July you said:

“It is clear that Secretary Clinton possibly jeopardized the safety and security of our citizens and nation through her use of private email servers… [That she] acted with extreme carelessness … and faces no consequences for doing so diminishes the American people’s trust in their government…”

These statements, all made within the last year, demonstrate how seriously you feel about the handling of classified information–from lowly privates to the very top tier of the executive branch. Since the information that President Trump misused is far more sensitive and actively jeopardizes national security, why are you not condemning him for his more “extreme carelessness” by playing “fast and lose with our national security” in this far more “harmful fiasco” that “erodes the American people’s trust” to an unprecedented degree?

You said in January:

“The primary duty of the federal government is to keep Americans safe… Unlike his predecessor, I am pleased that President Trump is using the tools granted to him by Congress and the power granted by the Constitution to help keep America safe.”

It is now clear that President Trump is misusing his constitutional tools and powers to make America less safe. It is also clear that you are aiding him through your hypocritical inaction. When will you set political convenience aside and act according to the principles you profess?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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