While the world was shocked after The Washington Post dropped the bombshell report that the FBI was searching Mar-a-Lago for nuclear weapons documents, some national security experts were also shocked that "signals intelligence" was recovered from Donald Trump's Florida home.
"Former senior intelligence officials said in interviews that during the Trump administration, highly classified intelligence about sensitive topics, including intelligence-gathering on Iran, was routinely mishandled," the newspaper reported. "One former official said the most highly classified information often ended up in the hands of personnel who didn’t appear to have a need to possess it or weren’t authorized to read it. That former official also said signals intelligence — intercepted electronic communications like emails and phone calls of foreign leaders — was among the type of information that often ended up with unauthorized personnel. Such intercepts are among the most closely guarded secrets because of what they can reveal about how the United States has penetrated foreign governments."
That pattern may not have ended when Trump left the White House after losing the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden.
"A person familiar with the inventory of 15 boxes taken from Mar-a-Lago in January indicated that signals intelligence material was included in them," the newspaper reported. "The precise nature of the information was unclear."
Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal tweeted, "Signals intelligence (like electronic intercepts) are some of the most sensitive and secretive material in the US."
"There are a host of special markings and protections on every such document," Katyal noted.
The fact signals intelligence was reportedly recovered at Mar-a-Lago shocked national security professionals.
Retired USAF Gen. Michael Hayden, who served as director of the NSA and CIA, simply tweeted, "Jesus Christ."
Bill Kristol, who served as Vice President Dan Quayle's chief of staff, offered his analysis.
"It’s been a while since I was in government, but signals intelligence—man, you are really not supposed to mess around with that," he wrote.
He wondered if it might be connected to Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"People ask why Trump would keep docs," he added. "Plenty of possible reasons. E.g.—and this example is pure speculation: Signals intel on MBS and [Jamal] Khashoggi, or on Saudi nukes, are the kind of docs you’d want in case you had to remind the Saudis to keep the $ coming."
Historian Claire Potter wrote, "If it was you or I who, and not Trump, who were in possession of top secret documents about nuclear weapons, or signals intel--well, you or I would be in handcuffs in a very bright room with glam rock playing in our ears. Yet he plays the victim."
Journalist Kurt Eichenwald wrote, "I never thought there was anything left that Trump could do that could shock me. But THIS? He took nuclear weapons and signals intel documents to his goddamn golf resort? Ok, I will finally say it. Lock him up."
Former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes was asked about the reporting during an interview with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell.
Rhodes said, "I keep coming back to the fact that — how unusual, how remarkably unusual it would be for anybody to be keeping this information, frankly even like while you are in the White House. It's not like you need to keep records of the stuff if you are the president of the United States."
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