Most countries complained about the US not sharing enough intelligence, not that the US was being too generous with it. People are most familiar with the basic classification scheme:
- Classified--broad category of secret stuff
- Confidential--least restrictive form of classified material.
- Secret--more restricted than confidential
- Top Secret--a much narrower category--starting to get into the stuff that, if released, can significantly harm the national interest. By letting our adversaries know what we know and how we collect it
- Code-word, compartmentalized. This is need to know stuff--that the only people who are in on a specific operation or information source are those who need to know. I was cleared for Top Secret but not code word. I never needed to be read into any code word secret stuff. From what I could figure out, this was really two main categories--special operations and stuff gathered via NSA signals intelligence.
- NOFORN: that the information is not to be shared with any foreign actors, even the most trusted. Stuff on terrorism might go here.
- UKONLY (or something like that): info could be shared only with UK. I assume there is a FIVEEYES label for sharing with only UK/Canada/Australia/NZ, but I didn't see any of that. Probably because I was on the Balkans desk, which meant that the next classification was
- NATOONLY (or something like that): information that could go out to NATO allies. Yes, this system means that there is stuff the US didn't share with anyone, some it shared with the UK but not the rest of NATO and some they shared with NATO members.
- SFOR or KFOR ONLY: information that would go out to all countries participating in the NATO-led mission, including non-NATO countries like Sweden, Finland, and ..... Russia. Not a whole lot of super-secret stuff under this label.
So, countries are, predictably, reacting, by sharing less. Which means that more puzzles will have missing pieces, which increases the likelihood that an attack is not prevented. Trump's big mouth and the leaks pouring out of the intel community are going to do real damage. Yet more unforced errors, something that this government does so very well.
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