- Video posted on Twitter appears to show covert special ops team
- Typically such images would be blurred to protect members
After making a holiday visit to US troops in Iraq, Donald Trump posted a video on Twitter of himself posing with Navy Seals – apparently revealing the special ops team’s deployment in the country, which is typically kept secret.
Trump’s video shows him with service members who appear to be part of Seal Team Five, whose faces are not covered or blurred, Newsweek reported.
Defense department officials told the magazine that information about where Seal teams are deployed is almost always classified. Trump, as commander in chief, has the authority to declassify the information, but typically the faces of individual special operations service members are blurred in official photos and videos to shield their identities.
Trump arrived in Iraq the day after Christmas, having faced criticism for not visiting US troops deployed overseas. His visit was shrouded in secrecy, and reporters accompanying him were required to agree to keep the details of the trip under wraps until the president finished giving remarks to a group of about 100 troops, mostly US special operations forces deployed for combat operations in Iraq and Syria, according to a pool report.
Trump posed for a selfie with Navy Lt Cdr Kyu Lee, who said he was the chaplain for Seal Team Five, based out of Coronado, California, the report said.
“At one point Kyu Lee, told Trump he was the chaplain for Seal Team Five. Lee recalled Trump telling him: ‘Hey, in that case, let’s take a picture,’” the report, written by Time’s Brian Bennett, said.
Trump posted the video to his Twitter account from Air Force One after the plane left Iraqi air space. It shows Trump flashing a thumbs-up as he and the first lady, Melania Trump, stand with troops who appear to be from Seal Team Five, and then shaking hands with the service members, who are outfitted in combat fatigues, helmets and night vision goggles. God Bless the USA plays over the video.
“Melania and I were honored to visit our incredible troops at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. GOD BLESS THE U.S.A.!” Trump said in the Twitter post.
Malcolm Nance, a former US navy intelligence specialist, told Newsday that the video was a break from protocol that usually shields the identities of special forces members deployed in a combat zone.
“Operational security is the most important aspect of personnel deployments. The real names, faces and identities of personnel involved in special operations or activities, are usually a closely held secret in a combat zone,” Nance said. “Revealing them casually, through an unusual media exposure even if it’s the commander in chief, would prove a propaganda boom if any of this personnel are detained by a hostile government or captured by a terrorist group. There would be no denying who you are and what you do.”