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    People sit at computers in the 24 hour Operations Room inside GCHQ, Cheltenham in Cheltenham, November 17, 2015.

    How US Intelligence Leaks Turned Into an International Problem

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    The US intelligence community has gone rogue leaking highly sensitive information to the mainstream media, RIA Novosti political analyst Vladimir Ardayev writes, asking whether the recent scandal between American and British law enforcement agencies will become a wake-up call to US spies.

    US intelligence leaks to the press have borne their first bitter fruit, RIA Novosti political analyst Vladimir Ardayev writes, referring to the latest scandal between British and US law enforcement agencies over leaks of highly sensitive information.

    Following the deadly suicide attack in Manchester, US media published both the name of the attacker — 22-year-old Salman Ramadan Abedi — and images of the debris left on the crime scene in the aftermath of the attack.

    This top secret information was shared between British and US law enforcement agencies within the framework of the so-called Five Eyes alliance, which also includes Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

    On May 25, British police suspended intelligence sharing with their counterparts in the United States over the leaks, while Home Secretary Amber Rudd didn't conceal her "irritation" over US media's disclosure of the name of the bomber and other details of the Manchester suicide attack.

    "I will make clear to President Trump that the intelligence that he shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure," UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in an official statement Thursday.

    Nevertheless, the very next day it was reported that Britain had resumed intelligence sharing with the US.

    "Remember how the UK pretended to furiously cut intel sharing with the US over leaks? Leaks still ongoing, yet less than 24 hours later," former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden wrote on his Twitter.

    Although London has reached a compromise with Washington over the sensitive leaks, the incident has left both with a very unpleasant after-taste.

    Thus unsurprisingly, "the US and UK have kicked off an investigation aimed at finding out how confidential information, the dissemination of which could nullify the efforts of the secret services, was leaked to journalists," Ardayev pointed out.

    On May 22, an explosion occurred at a concert of the US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester, leaving at least 22 people, including minors, dead and about 75 injured. The Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attack.

    "Investigators, detectives, criminologists collect evidence bit by bit, hoping that the smallest traces which appear insignificant at first glance will help them to find the organizers of the terrorist act. The testimony of witnesses and victims, information about a [potential] perpetrator, fragments of the explosive device, footage from the CCTV cameras and much more — all this is being scrupulously investigated," Ardayev elaborated, stressing that in this situation the premature release of data can play a fatal role.

    In this context, London's dissatisfaction and irritation with the leaks are quite understandable, according to the journalist.

    "The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling. 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," President Trump said in an official statement, commenting on the incident.

    The US president highlighted that he asked the Justice Department to "launch a complete review of this matter," and added that "if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

    According to The Hill, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already initiated steps "to address these rampant leaks."

    Ardayev noted that Trump has experienced first-hand what it's like to be faced with an uncontrolled leak of highly sensitive and classified data.

    The political analyst called attention to the fact that the ongoing investigation into Russia's alleged "interference" in the US election and the Trump campaign's suspected "ties" with Moscow remains secret to anyone but journalists.

    "Data on the persons involved in the investigation, the content of documents, the transcripts of telephone conversations, information on interviews and interrogations, facts, figures — all this information almost instantly surfaces in the media with a reference to 'competent', 'informed' and usually 'anonymous' sources," Ardayev noted.

    However, the problem of leaks and the mishandling of classified information is a perpetual problem in the US.

    The political analyst recalled Hillary Clinton's email scandal that came into the focus of the FBI during the US presidential campaign. By using a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State Clinton could have exposed highly sensitive classified information.

    Interestingly enough, the former Democratic presidential hopeful has repeatedly stated that the FBI investigation into the email case had dealt a heavy blow to her campaign and facilitated her defeat.

    "The development of the 'email scandal,' directly related to the election, has become a sort of a red line, beyond which the activity of FBI and other American law-enforcement institutions and special services have grown increasingly politicized. The investigation of the 'Russian intervention" in the [presidential] election has become a natural continuation of this process, while leaks [from intelligence agencies] have turned into a 'new normal'," Ardayev observed.

    This controversial practice has resulted in an international scandal with Britain, the political analyst noted, asking whether it's time for the US intelligence community to realize what it is actually doing.

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    Tags:
    leak, Five Eyes, Manchester attack, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), National Security Agency (NSA), Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Britain, United States, Russia, United Kingdom
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