November 30, 2022

CHINESE TAKEAWAY: The biggest fears about the contents of the documents Trump stole

CHINESE TAKEAWAY: The biggest fears about the contents of the documents Trump stole

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The government documents Donald Trump is accused of secretly and illegally removing from the White House could imperil the nation’s methods for gathering intelligence on other nations. In particular, some of the most recently-reviewed documents contain secrets connected to China and Iran.


Sources close to the investigation have disclosed some general information about what kind of documents they’re reviewing, though the exact details of the contents remain off-limits. Some of the papers contain secret information about other nations’ military capabilities.

One of the major concerns, if these documents were leaked, released, shared, or sold, is that by knowing exactly what information the U.S. has on their military capabilities, foreign nations could determine the methods being used to garner that information — and take effective steps to block U.S. intelligence.

In particular, this set of documents is reported to include undisclosed information on Iran’s missile program, and intelligence work regarding China.

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From the Washington Post:

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People aiding U.S. intelligence efforts could be endangered, and collection methods could be compromised. In addition, other countries or U.S. adversaries could retaliate against the United States for actions it has taken in secret.

Trump’s reasons for taking these documents have been a subject of much speculation — the possibilities that they were merely trophies, or intended to be passed to another entity, or simply to be kept out of the National Archive have all been floated by various people in and around government.

However, his special and ongoing enmity for China is returned: NPR reported in 2020 that China opposed his re-election, and it particularly raises questions here, about what use the former president might have had for documents detailing matters that nation would want to keep secret.

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Even before Trump left office, LawFare was warning the public about the possibility that he would try to sell national secrets after being ousted, and that the recourse would be limited:

Of course, it might be difficult to monitor Trump’s sale of national security secrets…[F]oreign governments and interests might bet that giving former President Trump a large consulting fee would lead to the casual revelation of important secrets during the course of dinner, meals, golf outings and the like.

Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.

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