In an article published by POLITICO on Thursday, the incoming Trump administration has admitted that the president-elect has already started talking to foreign leaders while he builds his team.
According to POLITICO, a list of foreign leaders that have already spoken with Trump was provided, and he has already met face to face with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Donald Trump has already spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the New York Times, with the two connecting by telephone on Monday.
For someone who ran their campaign on the premise of criminalizing his opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the basis of “illegal” and unsecured handling of sensitive information, it’s surprising to see the incoming Republican admitting to phone calls with foreign leaders before having been properly briefed by intelligence personnel or ensuring that all communications were secured.
There is already rather valid concern that cyberattacks influenced the 2016 presidential election, with the Department of Homeland Security accusing Russian hackers of leaking emails “intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” Hacking from foreign intelligence agencies resulted in a breach of the Democratic Party’s emails and databases.
When taking calls from foreign leaders, the security of phone and VOiP (voice over internet protocol) lines is a valid concern. Donald Trump seems unwilling to work outside of his Trump Tower offices, so the question on whether or not he has access to up-to-date intelligence sources as well as government-grade communications security is something that should be addressed considering the vulnerabilities exposed by the WikiLeaks hacks.
Trump spokesman, Jason Miller, told the press that “appropriate measures are being taken,” when questioned regarding communications security for the president-elect’s phone calls with foreign leaders; however, no details were provided.
So far, there has been a great deal of chaos within the Trump transition team, including changes in head of the team from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to Vice President elect Mike Pence. Some individuals have flat-out rejected positions in Trump’s cabinet, and rules regarding hiring lobbyists seem to have changed mid-course. Communications security is a valid worry considering the chaos and the unfamiliarity that the incoming president seems to have with both protocol and available resources.
New York Magazine’s Annie Lowrey points out the irony behind Trump’s “Lock her up!” message regarding Hillary Clinton during his campaign and his own lax security when making phone calls for world leaders.
‘Just to drive the point home: Trump has been talking to world leaders on unsecured lines without being briefed or prepped for the calls.’
‘What are the chances Russia or China or even just Germany got to listen to those calls? What did they take away from them?’
‘Read this @OKnox story on how careful the Obama White House was with every. single. phone. call.’
According to the Yahoo News article from 2014:
‘Before Obama calls another world leader, an aide brings him a specially prepared National Security Council dossier. The package includes a closely held American intelligence portrait of the person he’s going to call — including highly personal information about their personality, their health and their loved ones. “Are they cool-headed? Or the opposite? Do they like to joke?” said one source familiar with the contents of the dossier.’
The article, which discusses telephone security during both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, also talks about the technical equipment and intelligence staff used for communications with foreign leaders, it also gives details of methods and protocols.
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