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Trump Defends Decision Not to Loop In Democrats

Says he feared leaks before ISIS raid; he also may release part of the video
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2019 10:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump likened watching video of the ISIS raid that killed the group's commander to watching a movie. Now he says the White House might release the video, or at least a portion of it. "We're thinking about it," he told reporters Monday, reports ABC News. "We may take certain parts of it and release it, yes,” he said. In the same gathering, Trump defended his decision not to inform congressional leaders in advance of the raid against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. "I've watched Adam Schiff leak," he said, referring to the House Intelligence Committee chairman in charge of the impeachment investigation. He called Schiff "the biggest leaker in Washington." Related coverage:

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  • Key informant: Reuters reports that a top aide to Baghdadi provided crucial information to Iraqi intelligence teams ahead of the raid, including details that helped pinpoint his movements. One nugget: Baghdadi held strategy talks with aides in moving minibuses disguised as vegetable trucks, Ismael al-Ethawi told his captors in 2018 after his arrest.
  • CIA gets involved: Other ISIS leaders were arrested earlier this year. "They gave us all the locations where they were meeting with Baghdadi inside Syria and we decided to coordinate with the CIA to deploy more sources inside these areas," an Iraqi official tells Reuters. "We passed the details to the CIA and they used a satellite and drones to watch the location for the past five months."
  • Now what? Baghdadi "was a uniquely charismatic figure who built a terrorist state that attracted like-minded individuals around the world and exploited the power vacuum in Iraq and Syria," a US official tells the Wall Street Journal. But the group has a "decentralized authority" that has helped it survive the deaths of other leaders, per the newspaper's analysis, and it's expected to do so again. The Washington Post has a similar takeaway: This is disastrous news for ISIS, but "with Syria still under a fog of war and mass political unrest gripping Iraq, the conditions for a revival remain."
  • Whimpering: Trump memorably told the world that Baghdadi was "whimpering and crying and screaming all the way," though a New York Times story sounds a bit skeptical about that. The overhead surveillance feeds Trump watched wouldn't have shown what was happening in the tunnel where Baghdadi was located, nor would they have had audio. It's possible, however, that Trump could have talked to commanders who relayed the behavior of Baghdadi.
(The Washington Post regrets a related headline.)

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