Relations between UK spy agencies “broke down” during war on terrorism

Eliza Manningham-BullerRelations between two of Britain’s most powerful intelligence agencies, MI5 and MI6, suffered a “serious and prolonged breakdown” during the American-led war on terrorism. Citing sources in the British government, the London-based Guardian newspaper said on Tuesday that the two agencies entered an extensive row over Britain’s support for extraordinary rendition. The policy refers to the government-sponsored abduction of individuals and their extrajudicial transfer across national borders. It was widely practiced by the administration of US President George W. Bush, despite its connection to documented cases of torture of terrorism detainees, in countries like Egypt, Libya, and Jordan.

In Britain, the administration of Prime Minister Tony Blair secretly supported Washington’s extraordinary rendition operations. It instructed the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, to assist its American counterpart, the Central Intelligence Agency, in efforts to abduct and rendition terrorism suspects. However, not everyone in Britain’s intelligence establishment was in agreement with government policy. One strong critic was Eliza Manningham-Buller, the then-director of Britain’s Security Service, commonly known as MI5, which she led from 2002 to 2007. According to The Guardian’s sources, Manningham-Buller was “evidently furious” when she discovered that MI6 had secretly colluded with governments like those of Libya and Egypt to rendition terrorism detainees. Believing extraordinary rendition and torture to be “wrong and never justified”, the MI5 director effectively stopped her agency from cooperating with MI6. She even “threw out” of MI5’s Thames House headquarters several MI6 liaison staff who were working there at the time, said The Guardian.

Soon afterwards, Manningham-Buller complained in writing to Prime Minister Blair about the conduct of some MI6 officers, whose actions allegedly “threatened Britain’s intelligence gathering” and “compromised the security and safety of MI5 officers and their informants”. The Guardian does not provide further elaboration of the contents of Manningham-Buller’s letter to the prime minister, but alleges that it contributed to a “serious and prolonged breakdown” in relations between MI5 and MI6. The paper says it contacted the two intelligence agencies, as well as Manningham-Buller, who has since retired, but no one wished to comment on the story. Sources did tell the paper, however, that the relationship between the two agencies “has now been repaired after a difficult period”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 02 Jun 2016 | Permalink

News you may have missed #590

Baroness Manningham-Buller

Manningham-Buller

►►Saudi ex-spy chief on US war on terrorism. The longtime head of Saudi Arabia’s foreign intelligence service, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who resigned shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings, says that the US should be using Osama bin Laden’s demise as a pretext for declaring victory in the war in Afghanistan and withdrawing US troops. Not by the end of 2014, which is the current timetable, but immediately.
►►Ex-MI5 chief says ‘9/11 made us stronger’. Britain’s foremost domestic intelligence agency, MI5, felt almost swamped after 9/11, inundated with leads to plots and fragmentary intelligence, according to Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of Britain’s Security Service. But in the decade since the attacks, its budget doubled and its headcount has almost tripled, while intelligence operations have increased fivefold, she said.
►►Captured Libyan spy chief defiant. Defiant and angry, captured Libyan spy chief Bouzaid Dorda, who directed the country’s External Security Organization (ESO), denied any wrongdoing when he was presented to reporters on Sunday by former insurgents who tracked him down in the capital Tripoli. He is believed to have taken on his job in 2009 when his predecessor Moussa Koussa, who defected earlier this year, became foreign minister.

News you may have missed #580

Baroness Manningham-Buller

Manningham-Buller

►►Ex-MI5 director says Iraq posed not threat to UK. Iraq posed no threat to the UK when then Prime Minister Tony Blair took Britain to war there, according to Baroness Manningham-Buller, former Director of MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency. In an interview, she described the Iraq war as an unnecessary action that increased the domestic threat to the UK, and “a distraction from the pursuit of al-Qaeda”. No kidding.
►►Interview about DAS wiretaps with Colombia Attorney General. This blog has covered extensively the wiretapping program against opposition politicians, journalists and civil rights activists, by Colombia’s disgraced DAS domestic intelligence agency. This Washington Post interview with Colombia’s new attorney general, Vivian Morales, displays the toothless nature of the government’s ‘investigation’ into the scandal. Morales says that her investigation has “nothing to do” with allegations that the Colombian government used funds provided by Washington to implement the wiretapping. She also says that she cannot “legally investigate” the question of whether former President Alvaro Uribe knew about the wiretaps.
►►Taiwan losing spy game with China. The deputy news editor of The Taipei Times argues that the United States is scaling back its sales of defense equipment to Taiwan because of “the penetration of almost every sector of Taiwanese society by Chinese intelligence”. Accordingly, “any arms sale to Taiwan carries the risk that sensitive military technology will end up in Beijing”, he says.

News you may have missed #309

  • Iran claims arrest of US cyberspies. Iranian security forces have arrested 30 people accused of waging cyberwar against the country, with the backing of the United States. The Iranian government accuses them of running a network of websites funded by US intelligence, which aims to “collect information about Iran’s nuclear program”.
  • Nazis planned to infiltrate Vatican with spies. Nazi Germany hatched a plan during World War II to infiltrate the Vatican with spies disguised as monks, according to secret MI5 intelligence reports. The codename for the plan was Operation GEORGIAN CONVENT.
  • US misled even us on detainees, says ex-MI5 chief. Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of the Britain’s foremost domestic spy agency, MI5, has said that United States intelligence agencies misled even MI5 about the mistreatment of suspected terrorists.

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #0006