The United Kingdom is voicing its frustration over leaked information coming from US sources
But an official wouldn't say the leaks from the US had compromised the ongoing investigation
With multiple high-profile intelligence leaks in recent weeks, the US has now managed to upset two of its closest allies by allowing the disclosure of sensitive information – a trend that is raising concerns around potentially jeopardizing the trust of key information-sharing partners.
Just days after President Donald Trump was reported to have revealed highly sensitive, likely Israeli-shared intelligence to Russian officials in the Oval Office, the United Kingdom is voicing its frustration over leaked information coming from US sources.
Although the nature of the two leaks was very different – with the President reportedly sharing sensitive information with a foreign power in one instance and US law enforcement sources providing information to the media in the other – the two headline-grabbing disclosures both revealed underlying frustrations maintained by those affected.
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd slammed US leaks on the investigation into the attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, as “irritating” on Wednesday after a string of details emerged from US law enforcement sources before they were released by British police or officials.
“The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise,” Rudd told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program. “So it is irritating if it gets released from other sources, and I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again.”
But asked if the leaks from US officials had compromised the ongoing investigation, Rudd said she “wouldn’t go that far.”
In a written statement Thursday, Trump described the leaks related to the Manchester attack as “deeply troubling.”
“The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security,” the President’s statement said. “I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
On Friday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he is not worried about leaks from his own department, but understands why his counterpart in the UK is frustrated by the leaks.
Kelly also commended Trump’s call for the Justice Department to launch an investigation as the “the exact right thing.”
“Find out who it is,” Kelly said in an interview with CBS, referring to the leaks. “It’s totally unacceptable, particularly when it comes to classified information.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday she would raise the issue of leaks to US media from the Manchester bombing investigation with Trump when the pair meet later at a NATO summit in Brussels.
“I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure,” she said following a cabinet-level security meeting.
Shashank Joshi, a senior research fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute think tank, told CNN the leaks of information from the US side seemed to be more frustrating than catastrophic to the Manchester investigation.
“A lot of the information that leaked overnight Monday was fairly mundane, about casualty figures and the method of attack, but the leaking of the suspect’s name was more disruptive because it might have tipped off other suspects,” he said.
Amid the scrutiny over the US handling of foreign intelligence following Trump’s White House meeting with senior Russian officials, Wednesday’s criticism from the UK is fueling questions about the Trump administration’s ability to maintain the trust of these vital partners.
“We’ve got a very close intelligence and defense partnership with the UK, and that news … suggests that we have even more close allies who are questioning whether we can be trusted with vital intelligence,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, said on Wednesday in an interview with MSNBC.