Following a series of leaks, are UK police forces right to stop sharing key intelligence with US authorities?
YES – Professor Anthony Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at The University of Buckingham.
Yes, of course it was the right decision. That a US intelligence officer (probably a “Legat” or FBI agent liaising with MI5 and housed at the US Embassy in London) should leak Salman Abedi’s name to the US media and then provide an image of the detonator, and the bag that hid it, was both disloyal and disgraceful.It undermines our all-important intelligence relationship with the United States, because it tipped off Abedi’s network and gave away technical details that should have been kept secret.Withholding all further intelligence from the US was a grave step but absolutely necessary.
The FBI were the losers here. There are also Libyan Islamists in the US.MI6 officers are clearly increasingly worried about the Russian links to President Donald Trump. Now MI5 must worry about US disloyalty. Only a harsh lesson would set things right.
I am sure it will be learned, and pretty damn quickly.
NO – Rupert Myers, barrister, writer and associate fellow at Bright Blue.
Britain’s intelligence-sharing relationship with America is historic and invaluable. For over seventy years, we have benefited from our agreement to share with the larger and better-funded US intelligence community. That deal lies at the bedrock of what might be called the “special relationship” and works to ensure our safety. It is in that context that the extraordinary and unacceptable leaking of UK intelligence must be considered. The leaks are a shocking embarrassment, and a diplomatic incident, but one which should be resolved through cooperation and dialogue at a political level, rather than by refusing to disclose information. The British security services have stopped 18 violent terrorist plots in the UK since 2013, five of them since the Westminster attack in March. Our spies rely on cooperation with the Americans to stop terrorism. We must encourage the Americans to stop embarrassing us, but not at the expense of risking the intelligence-sharing partnership.