We previously discussed the alarming breach of an intelligence sharing agreement with the U.K. after U.S. officials released details given to them from British intelligence on the Manchester bombing, including the identity of the bomber. Now, British police have stopped sharing information with U.S. authorities after a series of leaks to American media. In the meantime, after Trump’s rational odd denial that he mentioned Israel in his giving highly classified intelligence to the Russians, Israel has acknowledged it was indeed their intelligence and they had to implement a “fix” and “clarify” their position with the U.S. on intelligence sharing after Trump’s disclosure. Update: Trump denounced the leaking of the information. Some have noted that the statement was rather belated and others have noted that it is equally ironic (given Trump’s personal disclosure of the highly classified Israeli intelligence to the Russians). Nevertheless, Trump is right to call for the FBI to investigate the leaking of the shared intelligence.
U.K. officials were irate that the Trump Administration leaked the information, which they deemed as harmful to their investigation and effort to arrest suspected associates of the bomber. Both the Prime Minister and the Greater Manchester Police were described as “furious” with the leak. The Prime Minister has made it known that the breach is so serious that she intends to personally raise the issue with President Trump.
As I previously discussed, this intelligence sharing agreements are absolutely vital to national security for the United States and, after President Trump’s bizarre disclosure of human intelligence from Israel to the Russians, the Manchester leak has further eroded confidence in our professionalism and reliability.
Top British and Belgian intelligence officials have made known their distrust and dissatisfaction to American intelligence officials. One former British intelligence chief described American officials as simply “blurting it out . . . for their own personal aggrandizement quite often.” He added that “They just blabbermouth it.”
This is the response to one of our closest allies in the world. While apologists for the Administration have again dismissed the concerns, this (and the Israeli disclosure) is a serious and dangerous breach for this country. I have grown increasingly weary of apologists and critics on both sides who put their political agendas ahead of this country’s obvious interests. Violation of shared intelligence agreements is a very big deal that should concern all citizens regardless of their political affiliations.
In the meantime, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (while reaffirming the close relationship with the US) confirmed that Trump’s disclosure to the Russians was not done with their approval and that Israel altered its understanding of intelligence sharing with the U.S. He said that Trump’s disclosure forced them to do a “spot repair” and “What we had to clarify with our friends in the United States, we did. We did our checks.”
This is more than politics. It is a pattern of gross negligence that threatens our national security. Moreover, after demanding investigations of leaks, the Trump Administration is relatively silent in calling for such an investigation of a violation of an intelligence sharing agreement. This latest scandal deserves a congressional investigation to determine how such a breach could have occurred.