If true, the motive likely was to embarrass Trump, showing how illegal leaking is spiraling out of control and damaging U.S. interests.
If you thought that intelligence community leaks against Donald Trump were okay because Trump was the target, then you don’t understand the problem. Such leaks to the NY Times and Washington Post, among others, are not only criminal, they are contagious.
If accusations being made by the British are true, the leakers in the U.S. intelligence community have revealed to the NY Times highly sensitive information shared as part of a joint terrorism investigation.
It all started when the NY Times ran a lengthy report on the evidence recovered at the scene of the Manchester concert suicide bombing, Found at the Scene in Manchester: Shrapnel, a Backpack and a Battery:
The bomber in the Manchester terrorist attack appeared to have carried a powerful explosive in a lightweight metal container concealed either within a black vest or a blue Karrimor backpack, and may have held a small switch in his left hand, according to preliminary information gathered by British authorities.
The article then goes on to show photos of evidence, including the battery, shrapnel, and remnants of the backpack in which the bomb was contained. The Times summarizes preliminary findings as to the nature of the bomb and how it was constructed:
Certain details of the bomb further suggest a desire by a bomb-maker to reduce the risk of a dud.
The authorities found a mangled Yuasa 12-volt, 2.1 amp lead acid battery at the scene, which is more powerful than batteries often seen in backpack bombs or suicide vests. The battery, used for emergency lighting and other applications, can be bought for about $20.
A possible switch to initiate the explosion, carried in the bomber’s left hand, was also unusual in a suicide device, in that it appears to have contained a small circuit board soldered inside one end.
You don’t need to be a professional explosives and terror investigator to understand that publishing such details so early in the investigation could prejudice the ability to roll up the bombmaker and network. The way in which bombs are constructed often carry forensic signature telltale details that can be traced back to specific groups or even individual bombmakers.
So who leaked to the NY Times?
The British apparently are blaming U.S. intelligence services, who would have been privy to such information as part of joint investigation.
The Guardian reports, Theresa May to tackle Donald Trump over Manchester bombing evidence:
Theresa May will confront Donald Trump over the stream of leaks of crucial intelligence about the Manchester bomb attack when she meets the US president at a Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday.
British officials were infuriated on Wednesday when the New York Times published forensic photographs of sophisticated bomb parts that UK authorities fear could complicate the expanding investigation into the lethal blast in which six further arrests have been made in the UK and two more in Libya.
It was the latest of a series of leaks to US journalists that appeared to come from inside the US intelligence community, passing on data that had been shared between the two countries as part of a long-standing security cooperation.
A senior Whitehall source said: “These images from inside the American system are clearly distressing to victims, their families and other members of the public. Protests have been lodged at every relevant level between the British authorities and our US counterparts. They are in no doubt about our huge strength of feeling on this issue. It is unacceptable.”
The Mayor of Manchester expressed his anger in a tweet:
The British Home Secretary Amber Rudd directly accused the U.S., via The Telegraph:
Amber Rudd has criticized US security services for leaking information relating to the Manchester terror attack with the Home Secretary warning Washington it must not happen again….
Ms Rudd was also asked whether the American leaks had compromised the investigation.
She said: “I wouldn’t go that far but I can say that they are perfectly clear about the situation and that it shouldn’t happen again.”
The Independent provides audio of Rudd.
It’s hard to believe that senior British officials would make public accusations against U.S. intelligence services unless they were highly confident that the U.S. was the source of the leak.
IF someone in U.S. intelligence leaked this information, then it’s likely that the target was not the British, but Trump, to prove that he has no control over his own administration.