Another View: Trump again offers cause for concern with Russians

I am deeply concerned about reports that President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.

When I was a junior officer in the Air Force, I worked in a SCIF environment (Sensitive Classified Information Facility). In order to do that, I needed first to have a Top Secret Clearance — a process that took almost a year to secure and delved deeply into my and all of my relatives’ and friends’ histories. I still remember my neighbors coming timidly to my door asking if I was in trouble when intelligence officers came to them to ask about my husband and me.

Once I held that clearance, I was able to work each day in what amounted to a vault. The vault was sealed from the world. I was not allowed to leave with anything. In fact, it was such a crypt that there was literally no air flow on most days, as indicated by a limp streamer that we hung from the vents to remind us how suffocating it was. I worked in that vault throughout my entire first pregnancy, breathing that “air.” Importantly, anything that entered the vault became instantly classified to the Top Secret level just by virtue of the fact that it had entered the facility.

In the world of classified materials, there are many occasions where highly classified information becomes available through what is considered “Open Source” channels. I can remember one time when a TS SCI (Sensitive Compartmental Information) tidbit on a highly classified program that we were working on landed inexplicably in, of all things, Rolling Stone magazine. A co-worker walked the magazine in to show us that this potentially compromising information was available in Rolling Stone. He knew fully well that when it walked in the door, that it could never walk out. That was the deal. We protected information. It hung on his door from that point on, with a yellow sticky arrow and highlighter markings showing us just how exposed our information was. Just how vulnerable we were.

And now, our president violates the integrity of our system with apparent impunity. Where is our leadership? He meets with our adversaries and flippantly shares information with them that has been sourced and shared by allies through careful and clandestine channels. I understand that our President has the authority to declassify at will. I am not certain though he has any idea what he is doing or why he is doing it other than because he can.

I am alarmed by the behavior of our Commander in Chief. If press reports of his meeting with the Russians May 10th are accurate, and I have no reason to doubt them, his off the cuff revelations about evolving threats to safe air travel have exposed highly sensitive intelligence from a friendly source in the service of nothing more substantial than bragging rights.

When I was a junior officer, I would have been court-martialed for walking out the door with the pages of a magazine. We deserve competent, deliberate leadership. Any 24-year-old junior officer would know better. I certainly did.

Chrissy Houlahan, Devon, Candidate for U.S. Congress, Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District

Originally published at

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