News of Iraq trip with Kushner midair poses security risks

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News of Iraq trip with Kushner midair poses security risks

Washington, Apr 4 (AP) The Trump administration’s failure to keep senior adviser Jared Kushner’s trip to Iraq secret isn’t standard practice for top US officials visiting warzones.

Such trips are usually kept quiet, with the cooperation of journalists, until the officials arrive in order to ensure maximum security.

A senior administration official told reporters Sunday evening that Kushner President Donald Trump’s son-in-law was in Iraq, even though he was still en route. For the military and security professionals managing the mission, the public disclosure of the unannounced trip was a security breach. Gen.

Joseph Dunford, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, also was on board.

Although the plane landed safely in Baghdad yesterday, the Iraqi capital is hardly a secure location, having suffered countless extremist attacks over the years.

The threat is no less acute today as Iraq wages a bitter battle to try to rid the Islamic State from its territory. For trips to the city, the military seeks to avoid public mention of plans ahead of time so extremist groups can’t plot attacks.

“It’s been longstanding practice to strictly avoid announcing the visits of senior US officials in advance of their travels to warzones,” said George Little, a Pentagon and CIA press secretary for Leon Panetta, who managed both departments under President Barack Obama.

“The main reason is obvious. You want to avoid giving the enemy any information that could help them to target these delegations, especially in areas where the battle lines aren’t clear on the map.”

Knowing when and where a senior US military or civilian official might arrive makes attacks easier. Such details could help groups target the plane as it takes off or lands, or use roadside bombs or shoulder-launched rockets to strike dignitaries while they’re on the ground.

US security details work with host countries to make sure routes and buildings are secure, trying to do so in the most inconspicuous manner possible.

The choice of plane, too, is determined by danger level.

In warzones, officials often fly more rugged combat aircraft, such as the Air Force’s heavy C-17 transport plane. These can take off and land quicker on shorter runways. Steeper, corkscrew landings are sometimes preferred to minimise the threat from surface-to-air missiles. (AP) KJ

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.