(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
“It is not good that it happened, but we need to put things in proportion,” former National Security Council chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday in response to US President Donald Trump’s reported leak of Israeli intelligence on ISIS to Russia last week.
Unlike most of the current government officials who ignored the details of the controversy and merely toed a line of signaling support for US-Israeli intelligence sharing, Amidror took a middle position.
On one hand, he did not ignore the reported leak, acknowledging that it as problematic. Yet, on the other hand, he said: “If there was a mistake, then focus on how we prevent it in the future.”
More important, for the former NSC chief, he said there would be “no consequences to the Israel-US relationship,” not because the leak was not problematic, but in spite of it and in light of the “depth of intelligence sharing.”
He also said that the incident would “definitely not impact the relations between the countries’ leaders – anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand” the overall dynamics of the relationship.
Amidror recounted a story about a meeting in which a top official surprised him by handing over classified information to a third party.
When he confronted the official about the leak, the latter responded: “I did not leak, I gave a briefing,” meaning that a high-ranking political official has the discretion to declassify certain matters as part of a greater strategy.
Next, Amidror was pressed about how he could both acknowledge the problem and brush it off in terms of consequences, especially if the consequence was that the source of the information is disclosed and killed.
He implied that in intelligence certain risks to sources are sometimes the cost of doing business, and that it would not be the first time a source was compromised. He added that there are a wide range of sources, and that no one source is irreplaceable.
At most, Amidror implied the leak might cause some temporary delays on certain intelligence issues, but that overcoming such bumps was also a regular part of the game.