Intelligence officials say U.S. officials leaking details on British involvement in a covert mission is “undermining trust” between the two countries.
Former CIA agents have blamed the Obama administration for the leaks and say they undermine national security and compromise the British services, MI6 and MI5, The Guardian reported Friday.
“MI6 should be as angry as hell. This is something that the prime minister should raise with the president, if he has the balls. This is really tragic,” said Mike Scheur, the former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, adding: “Any information disclosed is too much information. This does seem to be a tawdry political thing.”
Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA counter-terrorism center, agreed, saying: “As for British Intelligence, I suppose, but do not know, that they must be very unhappy. They are often exasperated, quite reasonably, with their American friends, who are far more leak-prone than they.
“In their place, I would think two and three times before sharing with the Americans, and then only do it if I had to. The problem with that dynamic is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and what opportunities you might be missing when you decide not to share. The Americans are doing a very good job of undermining trust, and the problem starts at the top,” Grenier said.
The officials’ comments came after the leaking of British involvement in a Saudi Arabian intelligence operation involving a Yemeni man working for the Saudi intelligence service Mabahith, which has been in cahoots with British and American intelligence agencies, who penetrated al-Qaida in Yemen and was entrusted with a suicide bombing mission.
“Apparently he was able to convince al-Qaida that he is genuinely ready to carry out the mission,” Mustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai told CNN.
The man involved in the mission, whose name was not released, apparently studied and worked in the United Kingdom, where he obtained a British passport.
Alani said the would-be suicide bomber was set to fly through a Gulf country to connect to a U.S.-bound flight.
“My information is that he was pulled out after the device was handed to him and they ordered the green light to carry out the operation,” he said.