It’s Security Services, Not The White House, That Are Damaging Intelligence Alliances

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Recent intelligence leaks by security agencies have frayed U.S. intelligence relationships with the United Kingdom and Israel.

U.K. authorities are reportedly “furious” with their U.S. intelligence counterparts after classified pictures of the Manchester bombing crime scene appeared in The New York Times Wednesday. TheNYT report essentially amounted to “damage assessment” that a terrorist bomb-maker could use to improve his next deadly device, Senior Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies Shashank Joshi noted on Twitter Wednesday.

The Manchester Police’s fury erupted Thursday when it announced that it would stop sharing intelligence on the bombing with U.S. agencies until assurances could be made that the leaks would stop. U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd had already issued a warning Wednesday that U.S. leaks regarding the bombing were “irritating.”

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May similarly declared, “I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure.” The National Police Chiefs in the council issued a damning statement after TheNYT leak, saying that it “damaged” the U.K.-U.S. intelligence relationship. “[The] damage is even greater when it involves unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter-terrorism investigation,” the statement says.

President Donald Trump pledged in a Thursday statement to get the bottom of the leaks and suggested that he may even prompt prosecution of the leakers. The U.S. Embassy in London similarly tweeted Thursday that the U.S. government would launch an investigation into the leak saying:

The U.K. fracas follows reports of a discussion between President Donald Trump and Russian foreign officials regarding an Islamic State plot to down a commercial airliner. The plot was reportedly highly sensitive intelligence given to the U.S. by Israel, and Israel did not authorized anyone to share it.

The original Washington Post report detailing the conversation between Trump and Lavrov did not share details of the plot or the source of the intelligence. TheNYT quickly outed Israel as the source of the intelligence, and details of the plot quickly began to leak into the open process.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli Army Radio that the country had undergone a “pinpoint correction” in its intelligence relationship with the U.S. adding that “everything that needed to be clarified with the friends in the U.S. was done.” He continued, “All of the conclusions we had to draw – it was all done.”

Both the crime scene pictures of the Manchester bombing and the Israeli intelligence source leaks came from within U.S. security agencies to major U.S. media outlets. Both leaks have damaged U.S. intelligence relationships with critical allies.

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