Friday, May 26, 2017
Leaks Ruining Foreign Relations
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a previously unscheduled stop in London on Friday to convey in person that the United States takes “full responsibility” for and “regrets” the leaks following the Manchester bombing.
Following the tragic event, the U.S. media, using leaked information likely from American security officials, reported the name of the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, and that his brother, Ismail Abedi, had been arrested. This reporting may have subverted authorities’ efforts to track down accomplices in the crucial hours after the terrorist incident.
Equally as damaging to the British investigation of the bombing, The New York Times published forensic photographs of the crime scene.
The British temporarily suspended intelligence-sharing with U.S. law enforcement after the leaks, but lifted the ban on Thursday.
Tillerson stated at a joint press event with his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, “We take full responsibility for that and we obviously regret that that happened.”
“With respect to the release of information inappropriately by someone, information that is vital to an ongoing investigation, information that is vital to capturing those who were involved in this heinous event, certainly we condemn that,” he added.
The secretary of state also expressed his faith that “[t]his special relationship that exists between our two countries will certainly withstand this particular unfortunate event.”
Johnson thanked Tillerson for coming and focused his comments on his appreciation for the support from the American people and others around the world.
He said he was “struck by how often our international friends and supporters have mentioned not so much the crime as the response — the acts of instinctive kindness by people in Manchester.
Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly conveyed her anger about the leaks to President Donald Trump at the NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday.
“The prime minister expressed her view that the intelligence-sharing relationship with the U.S. is hugely important and valuable but obviously the intelligence needs to be kept secure,” a senior U.K. official said, Politico reported.
Former Chancellor for the Exchequer George Osborne, in an op-ed for London’s Evening Standard newspaper, wrote that “[n]ow they are publishing leaked intelligence about the ongoing hunt for the network behind the murders. We do not know whether, as a result, we have lost opportunities to break that network and save lives. We need secret intelligence in the fight against terrorism — and the intelligent know we have to keep it secret.”
President Trump in a statement released on Thursday pledged to find the leakers and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
“The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling,” he said. “These leaks have been going on for a long time, and my administration will get to the bottom of this. The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security.”
Trump added, “There is not a relationship we cherish more than the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.”
What do you think?