Three years ago, former US President Donald Trump posted on Twitter a photo that left US intelligence experts stunned because it was classified.
Radio “NPR” reported that the picture of a missile exploded on a launch pad in the depth of Iran. The image was so clear that at first some thought it might not have been captured by a satellite.
But aerospace experts quickly determined it was taken using one of America’s most valuable intelligence agencies, a secret spacecraft called USA 224 that is widely believed to be a multibillion-dollar reconnaissance satellite.
- Advertisement -
Now, three years after Trump’s tweet, the National Intelligence Agency has officially declassified the original photo. The declassification came as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request by NPR.
Many details about the original photo remain unknown, but it reveals that Trump has been posting some of America’s most valuable intelligence on social media, says Stephen Aftergood, a classified and classification specialist at the Federation of American Scientists.
Aftergood says Trump was interested in sensitive intelligence about Iran and the first thing he would do was post it on Twitter.
The disclosure comes just days after Trump announced he will run for president in 2024, and follows the FBI’s August seizure of 33 boxes filled with more than 100 classified records, stored at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Some of these documents are said to have been linked to Iran, according to The Washington Post.
According to reports, Trump first saw the photo as part of a daily intelligence briefing the morning after the failed Iranian launch.
In the most complete account of what happened next, President Trump asked to keep a copy of the image, which was from a KH-11 satellite. An hour later, it was posted to more than 60 million followers on Twitter, according to the report.
NPR has not independently verified this report.
After he posted the photo on Twitter, Trump said he had done nothing wrong. “We had a picture and I posted it, which I absolutely have the right to do,” he told reporters at the time.