The leaking of details about the foiled underwear bomb plot was already troubling enough. Telling the enemy that you have a double agent in their midst, and in doing so, disclosing to them the identity of that agent, immediately shuts down that source and puts him and his family at risk. It also puts other sources on notice that they will not be protected.
I subscribe to this view of that earlier news:
“If this is not a deliberate disclosure done for an operational purpose, then it is a shocking example of a leak posing risks to highly sensitive and important work.”
Those were the words of British MP, Patrick Mercer, a lawmaker and a specialist in security matters. Unfortunately, the severity of leak just grew by orders of magnitude because we have just learned that the source is apparently a Brit. Yes, US personnel leaked the name of a British secret agent whose information was being shared with US intelligence agencies.
I can’t impress upon you enough just how tightly controlled are the names of sources. It is even more hush-hush when those sources are citizens and agents of foreign friendly governments.
We call it Five Eyes, and it refers to five nations who have a special reciprocal intelligence sharing arrangement: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Sharing provides greater opportunity to “connect the dots,” not to mention, it gives all member nations the ability to conserve resources as it reduces the duplication of effort. If the Five Eyes arrangement were to break down, an irreplaceable intelligence void would exist.
While all four countries enjoy an incredibly close relationship with the United States, there is no member whose contribution is as important as that of Great Britain. That’s because the Brits have more resources than the other three smaller Five Eye countries. They also have historical relationships around the globe with other nations where the United States would otherwise be blind.
If this report is correct, it is a big deal. And it is a big blow to US credibility in the eyes of our most important foreign military partner, bar none. Coming on the heels of the GSA and Secret Service hooker scandal (and of the three, this potentially is by far the biggest scandal), this calls into question the wisdom and/or judgment of U.S. leadership at the highest levels.
I sincerely hope that this was a deliberate leak done for operational reasons and with British concurrence, otherwise someone has committed a treasonous act.
*Note. I’m obligated to inform you that since I am an Army Reserve officer, this is only my opinion and does not represent the opinion of the Department of Defense.