Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Britain's domestic security chief has warned publicly that civil rights may need to be reduced to protect the public against the growing threat of Islamist terror. And in a startling expression of official British policy, Dame Eliza-Manningham-Buller, the director general of MI5, the British domestic security service, also made very clear she was opposed to indiscriminate increased intelligence sharing with all other members of the 25-nation European Union. The European Commission in Brussels has been pushing hard for all members of the 450-million population EU to step up intelligence sharing to combat both terrorism and organized crime.

But Manningham-Buller made clear she rejected this broad approach to intelligence sharing, even if it brought Britain into conflict with the EU overall. "There can be no coercion to share intelligence. ... If we splash it (intelligence) around carelessly we shall soon have none of it," she said in her speech delivered Sept. 1 in the Netherlands at the 60th anniversary of the AIVD, the Dutch security service. "So I could never agree to a compulsory exchange of intelligence as that would risk compromising valuable sources of intelligence. There would soon be little to exchange."

Manningham-Buller's comments reflect conflicts both old and new between the British intelligence and security services and other agencies in Europe's secret world. The French, German and other Western European security and intelligence services have long envied Britain's full access to and full participation in Echelon, the long-established elint, or electronic intelligence sharing agreement between Britain's General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham and America's giant National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Md. President George W. Bush recently approved Australia being granted the same full access as Britain to the NSA's "crown jewels."

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