That prompted the U.K.’s National Police Chiefs’ Council to say: “We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement, and security partners around the world. … When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses, and their families. This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation.”
The BBC reported Thursday that Greater Manchester Police, which is leading the investigation, has “stopped sharing information with the U.S.,” and that police hope “to resume normal intelligence relationships—a two-way flow of information—soon but is currently ‘furious.’”
Here’s how that information sharing typically works: The police would have passed on information to the U.K.’s National Counter-Terrorism service, which then would share it with the “Five Eyes” countries—Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.—as part of their exclusive intelligence-sharing agreement. The BBC added U.K. authorities believe the information was leaked by U.S. law enforcement—not the White House. Prime Minister Theresa May said she would raise the issue with President Donald Trump during their meeting Thursday in Brussels.
Trump, in a statement, called the “alleged leaks … deeply troubling,” adding: “My administration will get to the bottom of this.” Here’s more:
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. There is no relationship we cherish more than the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.
Trump has himself been under scrutiny for sharing sensitive information from a U.S. ally, without that ally’s consent, with Russian officials during a meeting at the White House earlier this month. But he is likely to empathize with May’s position. The Trump administration has railed against intelligence leaks to the media about his presidential campaign’s contacts with Russia, calling them a national-security threat and vowing to prosecute those responsible. But Trump’s disclosure of information to the Russians from a U.S. ally, later revealed to be Israel, has prompted a change in the way Israel shares its information with the U.S.
Avigdor Liberman, the Israeli defense minister, told Army Radio on Wednesday, “I can confirm that we did a spot repair and that there’s unprecedented intelligence cooperation with the United States.” He declined to say what had changed, adding: “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.”
But intelligence leaks are almost as old as intelligence sharing.