Thursday, February 05, 2009
Put simply, the US and UK intelligence organisations are so deeply interwined that the US is able to make an 'offer that cannot be refused' any time it likes.
UK intelligence operatives are routinely seconded to various entities in Langley to work on joint projects in those agencies. The UK electronic listening networks in effect act as subcontractors to the USA in specific intelligence markets.
It is not a matter just of exchanging information between separate sovereign organisations but of intricate joint intra-organisational data flows.
The national sovereigncy of the UK is substantially compromised by these arrangements because the US holds the keys to the main doors. The payoff for the UK is the ability to strut the world stage as a 'significant power' without the need to pay for all the intelligence infrastructure. Just so long as nobody really understands what is actually happening.
In my judgement the UK fell in with the Iraq war nonsense of the Bush administration because Bush was able to threaten withdrawal of these intelligence links if the UK did not comply with his policies. This would have led to the collapse of the Intelligence Illusion in Whitehall and the illusion is too central to the self-image of key parts of the UK secret state.
The current rapidly disintegrating cover-up of the torture networks is not the reason for the 'threat' to end intelligence co-operation - it has simply removed for a moment one of the veils hiding the reality of what exists and what can happen.
Even when the torture business is sorted out the latent threat will still exist as a part of the relationship between the US and the UK. Unless of course the UK decides to disentangle itself from this potentially abusive relationship. Which could be quite an abrasive and conflict-ridden process.
I have reasons through personal contacts some years ago to know about the existance of the intelligence tangle.