UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd criticised U.S. security services Wednesday after information about the Manchester bombing was leaked to U.S. media outlets in the aftermath of the attack — and inferred it may hurt vital intelligence sharing going forward.
Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British citizen born to Libyan parents, detonated a bomb Monday night at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena. The blast killed 22 people and injured dozens more, many of whom were teenage girls and children.
But in the wake of the attack, and with British police keeping tight-lipped about what they knew and who they believed to be responsible, details started to leak first on U.S. media such as CBS and NBC News — namely preliminary death tolls, what police believed to have occurred, and that the attacker was a suicide bomber.
CBS also first reported Abedi’s name Tuesday, forcing Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins to come out and confirm the name, just hours after Prime Minister Theresa May said police were not yet ready to identify the terrorist.
Speaking to BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, Ms. Rudd was asked if she will be looking at the information sharing and if it may be working against the wishes of the British police.
“Yes quite frankly,” she said. “The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise, so it is irritating if it gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again.”
Rudd said she would not go so far as to say the investigation had been compromised by the leaks to the American media, but added that it has been made clear to U.S. security services “that it shouldn’t happen again”.
U.S. security and intelligence services have been dogged by a number of high-profile leaks in recent weeks. Last week, U.S. officials leaked to The Washington Post that President Trump had allegedly discussed classified information related to Islamic State with the Russian foreign minister in a meeting at the White House.
Despite claiming the information was highly sensitive and could put lives at risk, officials continued to leak parts of what Trump had allegedly told the Russians to other outlets over the next few days.
The New York Times also reported last week on private conversations between Trump and the Russians, namely that Trump called Comey a “nut job” and that Comey’s firing took pressure off Trump.
Former CIA Director John Brennan warned the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday that such leaks could be very damaging to the U.S. and called for the leakers to be “tracked down”.
“These continue to be very, very damaging leaks, and I find them appalling, and [the leakers] need to be tracked down,” he said.
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY