By TATIANA PROPHET
Howard Blum has a long history of reporting on America's intelligence community, the collection of 17 spy agencies that gather information of vital interest to the United States. It's safe to say he knows many spymasters quite well.
In 1991, he wrote a book called "Out There: The Government's Secret Quest for Extra-Terrestrials." The book concluded that America's spies are keeping the public in the dark about the extent of their knowledge.
On Wednesday, in this "exclusive" for Vanity Fair, Blum uses information gathered from anonymous Israeli and American spies to provide more details about the meeting President Donald Trump had with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
I put the word "exclusive" in quotes because it was the Washington Post that originally reported on this story via anonymous sources. Since the Post article ran, other media reported that it was Israel that had shared the intelligence with the United States.
And the Vanity Fair article describes the covert mission in great detail, including geography and the name of the ISIS operative who was rumored to be inventing a new weapon of terror (which turned out to be laptops to be smuggled on airplanes). Incidentally, that bomb maker's name is one of the few names included in the article.
The accusations of the damage Trump did, by sharing info on the laptop intel, are very serious. From what Blum's sources say, Israeli spies will no longer be sharing as many top secret details with the United States. And many in the CIA are disturbed and unnerved by his actions as well.
According to an anonymously sourced direct quote: "This is war."
Blum even suggests that the plethora of leaks plaguing the administration were "no accident," that they were deliberately made because of Trump's error with the Russian officials. But it wasn't the first time he angered some agents. On inauguration day, the President made a visit to CIA headquarters at Langley, Va. The coverage of his remarks there focused on his condemnation of the media, as well as his bragging and boasting on "hallowed ground" included direct quotes from anonymous sources (and named sources as well) describing how Trump's visit was all wrong. Here is the text of the full remarks.
And as the Russia investigation continues, let's hope the American public finds out what the spy agencies really know, and how they know it -- faster than the darkness has lifted about extra-terrestrials.