The UK Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee published its annual report on December 20 in which it outlined the perceived intelligence threats and challenges facing Britain in the coming year. In its assessment of the British intelligence relationship with the US and other English-speaking countries, the report's authors expressed particular concern about the policy positions of US president Donald Trump.
According to the report, president Trump's declared willingness to employ torture as a counter-terrorism tactic would present a major obstacle to the continued functioning of the covert partnership between the US and UK intelligence communities.
David Videcette, a former counter-terrorism investigator told Sputnik however, that the intelligence relationship between the two countries is built on far firmer foundations than the policies of any one administration and that, given the unrivalled usefulness of American intelligence capabilities, the UK is highly unlikely to seek a loosening of the relationship. He noted that even if the US was gathering intelligence by means of torture, UK operatives would not necessarily be aware of the information's provenance.
"My take on it is that these are discussions taking place on a political level rather than between intelligence agencies. Yes it would make the relationship fairly difficult and we wouldn't participate in anything were torture was taking place but I don't think it would necessarily make any difference to intelligence sharing. I think the UK will remain connected to whatever path the US takes. American foreign policy has shaped the world in the last 20 years and the UK has been a willing participant in the way they have shaped it and I can't see how that could change very much," Mr. Videcette said.
The United States and Britain form the core of the so-called "Five Eyes" Alliance which also includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand and which the Committee Report described as the closest intelligence alliance in the world.
Former MI5 operative Annie Machon also spoke to Sputnik, saying that the report's conclusions seemed to reflect an about-face on British Intelligence's reading of a Trump administration's security implications.
"It is interesting that the heads of the three key British intelligence agencies, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, were confident, even before Trump was sworn in, that there would be no significant policy shifts in the USA that would threaten the US/UK intelligence special relationship, and, as the CIA-promoted "Russiagate" scandal has gained traction, so this has come to pass," Ms. Machon said to Sputnik.
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