Sign up for the daily Inside Washington email for exclusive US coverage and analysis delivered to your inbox
Get our free Inside Washington email
Three years after releasing a highly classified satellite photograph depicting the site of a failed Iranian rocket launch, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has officially declassified the image Donald Trump once distributed to his roughly 80 million followers on Twitter.
According to NPR, the NGA declassified the image after a “gruesome Pentagon-wide review to determine whether the briefing slide from which it came could be shared with the public” in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the radio network.
Just days after Mr Trump tweeted the image showing the aftermath of an explosion at Iran’s Imam Khomeini Space Center, amateur sleuths determined the high-quality photograph must have come from a satellite designated USA 224, which the US National Reconnaissance Office launched into space. in 2011.
According to Marco Langbroek, a satellite tracker in the Netherlands who spoke to NPR at the time, USA 224 was thought to be one of the US KH-11 spy satellites.
Mr Trump tweeted the image with a mocking message addressed to Tehran.
“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during the final preparations for the launch of the Safir SLV at Semnan Launch Site 1 in Iran,” the president wrote at the time. “I wish Iran my best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”
By law, a sitting president has the ability to declassify even the top secret classified information, but US defense experts say even presidents must pass declassification orders through the proper channels.
Mr Trump is currently under investigation by the Justice Department into whether he violated US laws against unlawful withholding of national defense information by accumulating more than 100 documents marked as classified at levels going as far as top secret at his residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
. Trump revealed have tweeted a image classified dun satellite spy