Intelligence experts and Iranian officials hit out at President Donald Trump after he tweeted a photo of an Iranian launch site that he saw at an intelligence briefing.
Trump tweeted a photo of a launch site at an Iranian space center where a planned satellite launch led to an explosion in an apparent effort to troll the hostile government.
“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” he tweeted. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”
The photo immediately raised “questions about whether he had plucked a classified image from his morning intelligence briefing to troll the Iranians,” The New York Times reported.
“We had a photo and I released it, which I have the absolute right to do,” Trump told reporters Friday.
Did Trump tweet classified info?
“Several former officials noted that the upper left-hand corner, where the level of classification of the photograph would normally be denoted, was blacked out before Mr. Trump tweeted the image,” The Times reported. “That suggested a rushed effort by the United States to declassify it, presumably at Mr. Trump’s command. A glare on the photograph suggested someone may have used a cellphone to take a picture of the image as it was displayed on a tablet computer, which is how classified images are often shown to the president during security briefings.”
Intel officials, Iranians slam Trump:
“You can bet every adversary is going to school on what’s been exposed,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told The Times. “I can’t see what the point was, other than to make fun of the Iranians.”
“This tweet is an excellent example of Trump’s aimless, impulsive thinking about many national security issues,” added Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. “Why tweet that the United States was not involved when it may have been? Why, apparently sarcastically, wish them good luck in finding the cause for the accident?”
Iranian officials also hit back.
“We don’t understand why the U.S president tweets and posts satellite pictures with excitement. This is not understandable,” government spokesman Ali Rabei told the Associated Press. “Maybe this is because lack of Iran-related subjects that they raise such issues.”
Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s information and communications technology minister, responded by posting a selfie of himself in front of the Nahid-1 satellite that was believed to be behind the blast.
“Me & Nahid I right now, Good Morning Donald Trump!” he wrote.