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DC and Jerusalem reel over Trump disclosure of ISIS plan to– hush!– put laptop bombs on planes

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Last night before the biggest story yet of Trump’s dysfunctional administration hit (the James Comey memo re the president’s possible obstruction of justice), the big news of the day was that a highly classified intelligence secret Trump had divulged to the Russian Foreign Minister a week before at the White House had been provided to the United States by Israeli intelligence. That secret was apparently ISIS’s plans to get laptop-bombs on airplanes. Or to quote the articles: “details” of those ISIS plans.

Leaving aside the questions that should strike any reasonable citizen — Why is the U.S. fighting wars in the Middle East? Isn’t this “secret” a bit obvious? (gee, laptops; who would have thought)– the story is roiling the chambers of state-and-spycraft in Washington and Israel.

Israelis are “freaking out” over the disclosure, per the Forward. While Newsweek says the entire intelligence operation is “in crisis.”

President Donald Trump’s decision to disclose highly classified information to Russia, which Israel reportedly provided to Washington, has put the intelligence services “in crisis,” according to a former senior Israeli intelligence official and recruiter of assets for Israel’s Shin Bet security service.

Haaretz is also wringing its hands over Trump’s threat to Israeli intelligence gathering. Anshel Pfeffer says Trump’s disclosure threatens “an intimate intelligence relationship”. Some more hoopla about the vaunted Israeli intelligence assets:

For lack of divulgeable classified details, the value of intelligence Mossad and the IDF’s intelligence branch pass on to their American counterparts can only be described using superlatives. “We literally give them the crown jewels,” said one senior Israeli intelligence officer who was intimately involved in the relationship with the Obama administration.

Pfeffer goes very close to divulging the undivulgeable when he tells us about those laptop bombs:

According to the reports in American media, confirmed largely by Trump’s tweets and his spokesman Sean Spicer, the intelligence Trump shared with the Russian foreign minister concerned plans by ISIS to smuggle explosives aboard a civil airliner, disguised as a computer laptop.

The Washington Post’s report on the not-to-be-divulged secret contained these (typically not very specific) quotes attributed to Trump:

Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day.”

Sure sounds like the crown jewels! Officially, of course, the Israelis are saying that everything is hunkydory. Reuters:

Israeli officials have… been quick to say counter-terrorism coordination with the United States is strong. On Tuesday, Trump called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss his visit to Israel next week, but the two did not discuss the intelligence leak during their 20-minute conversation, the prime minister’s office said.

“The security relationship between Israel & our greatest ally the United States is deep, significant & unprecedented in volume,” Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Twitter, remarks that were echoed by the intelligence minister.

Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, issued a similar statement, saying: “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump.”

But privately, oh no no no. Here is Gershom Gorenberg, liberal Zionist, expressing horror as only a true Middle Easterner can:

While David Cohen, the former under-secretary for terrorism in Treasury (who was backed by Alan Dershowitz) writes at the New York Times that Trump has tarnished the ideal of a just and true America that beckons to would-be spies to betray their countries all around the world. And you thought it was good old American greenbacks that got them to turn. No:

Tarnishing the idea that America stands for something uniquely good makes it harder for the C.I.A. to recruit spies. The best arrow in the C.I.A.’s quiver — the arrow that has led to countless high-quality recruits signing up over the years — will not be nearly as sharp.

No one can say how many potential spies will decide that working for America is not worth the risk. But the administration’s rejection of the American idea will surely mean that some will say no.

Shorter Cohen (per Donald Johnson): “We are shocked, shocked I tell you, to see the US under Trump supporting autocrats and downplaying human rights. And speaking of American values, who better than the CIA to talk about them.”

Better yet, here is a famous New Yorker cartoon on a related “Industrial Crisis,” from 1928 by Gluyas Williams:

Industrial Crisis, the day a cake of Ivory soap sank at Proctor & Gamble’s by Gluyas Williams

Speaking of Trump the disrupter, Israelis and their US supporters are also expressing apprehension about the Jerusalem statements coming out of the administration in advance of the president’s trip. HR McMaster equivocated on the Western Wall here. Here’s an Orthodox Union statement:

“We appreciate that President Donald Trump will make a historic trip to Israel next week and will be the first sitting president to visit and pray at Judaism’s holiest site – the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.

However, we are dismayed that just days before the trip, the White House’s National Security Adviser declined to state at the press podium that the Western Wall is part of Israel.

The questions posed to NSA Gen. McMaster today were prompted by press reports yesterday that U.S. officials (working in Israel to prepare the President’s trip) stated the Western Wall is “not part of [Israel’s] territory, it is the West Bank.” A senior administration official subsequently issued a statement that “the comments about the Western Wall were not authorized communication and they do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the president.”

We were relieved by this clarification. But it is all the more troubling today that Gen. McMaster did not affirm it when asked at today’s on-the-record briefing.

The Western Wall is indeed the holiest site that Jews can visit today for prayer and reflection as it is the only accessible remnant of the Holy Temple that once stood in Jerusalem. For centuries, Jews across the globe turned toward Jerusalem and prayed to return. Those prayers were answered 50 years ago next week as Jerusalem was reunified by Israeli forces in the Six-Day War – and Jews across the globe will celebrate this anniversary.

Now, therefore, is a crucial time for highlighting the historic connection of the Jewish People to Jerusalem and to give no credence to those who deny it. We therefore ask President Donald Trump to explicitly affirm that the Western Wall was – and is now – by the grace of G-d under Israel’s sovereignty.

With God on our side. There couldn’t be a sounder basis for policy.

Thanks to Scott Roth, Adam Horowitz and Mark Peterson

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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24 Responses

  1. eljay on May 17, 2017, 11:15 am

    … The Western Wall is indeed the holiest site that Jews can visit today … For centuries, Jews across the globe turned toward Jerusalem and prayed to return. … We therefore ask President Donald Trump to explicitly affirm that the Western Wall was – and is now – by the grace of G-d under Israel’s sovereignty. …

    Turning toward Jerusalem and praying to “return” is Zionism’s equivalent of Monty Python’s “farcicle aquatic ceremony”: Neither act entitles its practitioner to anything.

  2. Boomer on May 17, 2017, 2:39 pm

    Even before it was reported that Israel was the source of the intelligence (or claims to be), I inferred that must be the case from all the uproar in DC. The horror!

  3. John O on May 17, 2017, 2:44 pm

    Reports say that the stuff Trump divulged came from a US ally, so it can’t be Israel.

    Seriously though, the laptop bomb plot was already known about, and had already got the TSA’s knickers in a twist – putting in place a supposed solution (making passengers put their laptops in the hold rather than cabin baggage) that is actually more dangerous than the situation it hopes to alleviate.

    I’m a fan of airline pilot blogger Patrick Smith. Here’s his take on it:

  4. HarryLaw on May 17, 2017, 7:19 pm

    Terrorists smuggling bombs in laptops is a serious security concern to all aircraft. That concern becomes farcical when the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee John McCain advocates arming those same terrorists with manpads. And only a few miles from Ben Gurion airport, shameful.
    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Media reported earlier in October that Syrian rebels asked Washington for Stinger missiles to use them against Russia’s military jets.

    “Absolutely… Absolutely I would,” McCain said when asked whether he would support the delivery of Stinger missiles to the opposition in Syria.

    “We certainly did that in Afghanistan. After the Russians invaded Afghanistan, we provided them with surface-to-air capability. It’d be nice to give people that we train and equip and send them to fight the ability to defend themselves. That’s one of the fundamental principles of warfare as I understand it,” McCain said.

  5. RoHa on May 18, 2017, 12:22 am

    I’m genuinely shocked that Phil seems to be going along with this plan to throw Trump out of the Presidency.

    The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

    “James Comey memo re the president’s possible obstruction of justice”

    But Comey testified to the Senate, under oath, that Trump had not pressured him to stop any investigation. Lying then?

    “a highly classified intelligence secret Trump … divulged to the Russian Foreign Minister ”

    Where is the evidence for this? (Does Trump have sufficient grasp of the details to actually pass them on? And as President, can’t he declassify them any time he likes?)

    Surely Phil is not so naive as to believe this tripe.

    Why isn’t the story about the security leak by whoever told the press about what went on in the meeting between Trump and Lavrov?

    (And interesting that the story came out very shortly after the report that Seth Rich, and not the Russians, passed on the e-mails to Wikileaks.)

    To an outsider like me it is obvious that there is a concerted effort to displace Trump by all and any means. The US electorate is to have its choice overruled. Not a good precedent to set.

    • Keith on May 18, 2017, 9:56 am

      ROHA- “The US electorate is to have its choice overruled.”

      For those who voted for Trump, most did because of the promises he made. Since he has betrayed those constituents who wanted to end the warmongering, he is not who they voted for. Throw this jerk to the wolves, says I.

      ROHA- “Not a good precedent to set.”

      I disagree. When you betray your base, don’t expect your base to have your back! Trump hasn’t earned one ounce of support. I think it would set an excellent precedent to impeach Trump while his former supporters cheered! Do you think AIPAC would have his back if he betrayed them? Hell, they would be leading the charge. It is long overdue to hold these jerks accountable for their actions. This is a rare opportunity to do that. Likewise, Bill Clinton should have been kicked out when that opportunity was presented. Think about it. A chastised Al Gore in the White House. Who knows how things would have turned out.

      • RoHa on May 19, 2017, 12:48 am

        Keith, I am not sure how willingly he flipped. Maybe he always intended to go along with the establishment.

        It looks to me as though he was sandbagged by the establishment as soon as he won the election. They produced the “Russian hacking” story, whipped up the demonstrations, attacked every way they could.

        I don’t think that allowing the Deep State and their media tools to drive out an elected president is a good idea, even if he is a flop as a president.

      • Keith on May 19, 2017, 10:09 am

        ROHA- “I don’t think that allowing the Deep State and their media tools to drive out an elected president is a good idea, even if he is a flop as a president.”

        Since he betrayed his base, why not? Right now his main value (besides being “not Hillary”) is that he is a disruptive buffoon. Perhaps not disruptive enough with his neocon appointees running foreign policy. Now, what could throw a spanner into the imperial machine better than a disruptive impeachment trial? Who knows, maybe he would fight back and begin to do something, anything to appease his base to gain support. On the other hand, perhaps he would invade Syria in force rather than relying on proxies and special ops forces. I don’t care. Right now an impeachment trial could only serve to weaken the empire. Bring it on!

      • echinococcus on May 19, 2017, 6:47 pm


        Talking through your hat. Tell me how a resounding victory of the Democrat-Republican-CIA “revolution” helps in any way.

      • RoHa on May 19, 2017, 8:27 pm

        ‘his main value … being “not Hillary”’

        For which much can be forgiven.

        But I am not so sure that an impeachment trial would throw a spanner into the imperial works. It seems more likely that it would make it clear to future presidents that they needed to toe the Deep State line, regardless of the wishes of the people.

        And I do care about an all-out war against Syria.

      • Keith on May 19, 2017, 8:31 pm

        ECHINOCOCCUS- “Talking through your hat. Tell me how a resounding victory of the Democrat-Republican-CIA “revolution” helps in any way.”

        I think that an impeachment trial would be delightfully disruptive to empire. As for my hat, I have grown rather fond of it so get your own!

      • echinococcus on May 19, 2017, 10:20 pm


        A celebration of the total victory by the (now official) alliance Democrats, Republicans, the Alphabet Soup and the war profiteers can only make the dictatorship more unopposed. Especially so if it easily defeats, as it is bound to, the nominally most powerful person in America. Look at it any which way there’s no sign of anything disruptive to the Empire in that.
        It won’t be any favor to the Palestinian people either, as the Dim allies are definitely the most dangerous.

      • Sibiriak on May 20, 2017, 1:25 pm


        Trump will come and go– but the new Big Lie will spin on, and on…

    • Mooser on May 18, 2017, 8:41 pm

      “I’m genuinely shocked…/… a good precedent to set.”

      Your concern for American democratic process is touching.

    • Mooser on May 19, 2017, 6:41 pm

      “To an outsider like me it is obvious that there is a concerted effort to displace Trump by all and any means.”

      “RoHa” altho an outsider, you have seen through to the very heart of the affair! Ray McGovern sees it just like you do!

      • RoHa on May 19, 2017, 8:34 pm

        Often an outside view enables one to see the wood, and I can only call it the way I see it. If this Mr McGovern, in amongst the trees, can see it the same way, then good for him.

      • Maghlawatan on May 19, 2017, 9:47 pm

        McGovern’s logic is based around the argument that there is no evidence. Fox repeat this point 24/7.

        The US does need structural change . But the guy who installed a red diet Coke button in the Oval Office is not the savior.

        And for a guy who wanted to drain the swamp what is with all of the Goldman Sachs people in the White House ?

      • RoHa on May 20, 2017, 3:36 am

        Many of us already knew that the red button on the president’s desk just summoned a butler. Even Americans, we reasoned, would not be so stupid as to put The Button where a president could push it just to see what it did.

  6. AddictionMyth on May 18, 2017, 4:52 pm

    Trump knew the disclosure would piss off Israel – that’s why he did it. He desperately wants to get out of this trip to Israel in which he’d have to expose himself as Bibi’s cuck. He’s hoping to piss them off so much they uninvite him. Unfortunately for him Bibi is such a desperate cuck too – saying he can use Trump’s mistake of exposing Israel’s support for ISIS bomb making logistics to force the US to give them more money to support ISIS bomb making. Trump didn’t expect that, and it’s pretty darn hilarious. What insult will he come up with next?

  7. Danaa on May 19, 2017, 5:33 am

    Actually, people are getting this a bit wrong (well, not totally). The fact that Israel has moles inside ISIS is the most obvious secret to hit the universe since, well, the fact that Adam and Eve were Apple addicts, took one byte and their universe crashed (proving god knows computers. OK, I read this somewhere).

    What is not obvious to everyone is that the “mole(s)” are not moles as much as double agents. It is israel’s support and information sharing with ISIS that was exposed, and they are mad because now ISIS is pissed. That Israel surreptitiously supports ISIS with military intelligence is the worst kept secret in the world. I am sure Lavrov giggled when he heard the “secret”.

    OH yes, the city in Syria. Like none would guess israel has agents in Raqqa? common – we are already in the third grade and not kindergartners any more.

    OF course, the problem for Israel is that ISIS will not trust them so much any more. How sad! the heart breaks!

  8. romweb on May 19, 2017, 12:59 pm

    The Western wall By the Grace of the Occupation (by the grace of G-d ) under Israel’s sovereignty.

  9. Robert767 on May 19, 2017, 5:29 pm

    It wasn’t publicly known that Israel was the source of the intelligence(such as it was) until the media,Israel and their slavishly devoted acolytes started squealing about it. On the Russia collusion stuff,repeating the same unproven allegations over and over prove nothing and in a bow to another poster here the idea that super clever Russian hackers would cover their tracks except for some Cyrillic text and the given names Felix Edmundovich sounds like a Python skit.

  10. sherban on May 20, 2017, 4:07 am

    What stunned me is Nadav Eial rage on the leaking to Russia the intelligence.Eial who seems to be neocon claimed that Russia is an enemy of the West and of Israel.For sure the dream of Israel is that US will remain the only one superpower and the policeman of the world but never said it openly.Nadav Eial make a permanent propaganda for the silly and ridicule opinion that Russia stolen US’s election.

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