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Manchester Bombing 'Leaks': Prime Minister May 'Confronts' Trump

UK Prime Minister Theresa May confronted Donald Trump today over so called information leaks regarding this Monday’s terror attack in Manchester.

The UK government alleges US intelligence agencies have been sharing information about the bombing with the US media, straining the relationship which is supposed to protect both nations.

One example of info the Brits didn't want public was Wednesday's New York Times piece featuring images of bloody bomb fragments and debris from the aftermath of the explosion, which erupted through the Manchester Arena at the closing of an Ariana Grande concert.

The newspaper cited "British authorities" for the photos, but the implication is that US officials who receive data from the UK as part of an anti-terror partnership were the ones to pass them on. The same shots did not appear in the UK press.

May and Trump are currently attending a Nato summit in Brussels, where terrorism is one of the focal topics.

The Prime Minister, who is also in the midst of election campaigning, is said to have made clear to Trump that all information shared between allied law enforcement and intelligence agencies must remain confidential and the Brits are to control the flow of their information.

Trump agreed and vowed to get to the bottom of the breach. He suggested a US Department of Justice investigation could take place with prosecutions of those responsible. "There is no relationship we cherish more than the special relationship between the US and the UK," said the President.

He also took aim at the media itself for publishing the "sensitive" information, a media that is already on his bad side.

Is The Media At Fault?

The obvious charge here is that the media is partly at fault for obtaining and publishing the information. May and Trump are in agreement that "national security" has been put at risk. However the New York Times and others might argue that gathering and disseminating the facts of such a high profile incident is an important element of living in a free and open society.

The public deserve the truth, but governments aren't necessarily obliged and commonly don't to give it to them. What's left of the media in the era of 'fake news' is the only other route.

Nonetheless, perhaps a more helpful question that highlights where the line should be drawn morally is 'was national security actually put at risk in real world terms?'

On the face of it, it would seem whatever UK and US officials were involved in the leak didn't think so, and it's hard to imagine in what way photos of the blast site could endanger more lives. The general detail of the attack, where it took place and the type of bomb used was already widely known because of the body of eye witness reports.

Where there might be grounds for criticizing NBC and CBS in particular, was the revealing of the alleged bomber's identity (22-year old Salman Abedi). This came before UK authorities had planned to release it.

One could imagine such a scenario where follow-up arrests might have hinged on the suspects not knowing Abedi was the one who did it; though this is a stretch and only hypothetical. If anyone else was in on the attack to any degree of importance, they probably would have recognized it straight away and scarpered if they were so inclined.

Nobody has suggested any of this happened and at this stage we have no way of knowing whether the media did their due diligence anyway. I.e. asking their sources whether publishing the info would indeed put the investigations at risk.

Intelligence Operations

The other thing to consider here is the role of police and intelligence sources themselves. Any information that is unknown outside of their investigations logically only becomes known because they allow it to be. They have to leak it purposefully or be incompetent enough to make it available accidentally - the latter a convenient excuse for the former.

In the former scenario one must then question their motives. Do we believe elements of the police, security and intelligence agencies want to put the public at risk in the way the Prime Minister has suggested? This seems superficial and unlikely.

Do they want to undermine the current establishment in some way? And/or do they believe in the freedom of information and want to serve the public irrespective of their superiors? Perhaps, if you believe in the Manning/Assange/Snowden line of thinking.

It has been said that Abedi was already known to the authorities and had travelled to Libya and Syria, where western governments have directly and indirectly supported Islamic terrorists for other purposes (i.e. the overthrowing of Gaddafi and the ongoing attempted overthrowing of Assad).

In that respect concealing as much info about the bomber as possible would be in the best interest of the state. It doesn't look good if they knew who this young man was, let him travel to and return from regions where he could receive radicalization and then failed to prevent the dismemberment of little girls.

Kicking up a fuss about some insignificant photos is a good way to distract the public from such detail while reminding those in the know to shut up and fall in line.

We might even consider the fact that deliberately leaked information need not be true. An intelligence source might tell a reporter something misleading for legitimate or nefarious reasons. Who's to say the leaked backstory of Abedi is legitimate and not part of some other operation?

Sadly this is the information soup and era of distrust we live in. What is the truth, where is the information coming from and why?

The largest Islamic terror attack on UK soil prior to Manchester bombing was the bombings on the London underground and an above ground bus in 2005.

At that time the same kind of 'leaks' made their way in to the media, helping to shape and change existing narratives. "Military grade bombs" became "homemade" pepper and peroxide mixes, "clean skins" (perps who were unknown to the authorities) became those with lengthy surveillance files, and a lack of preventive intelligence became incompetence at sharing and interpreting such intelligence.

Ultimately despite so called information leaks, the public remains very much in the dark about how and why 22 people (including children) had to die at a pop concert on Monday evening.

Posted by KeelanB at May 25, 2017 2:23 PM
Comment #416694

I enjoyed your post Keelan. There is no doubt that our Constitution protects a free and open public media.

You wrote; “The UK government alleges US intelligence agencies have been sharing information about the bombing with the US media…”

I find no Constitutional edict that our intelligence agencies share information with the media or directly with the public.

Unfortunately, I believe that some, within these agencies, share information illegally and irresponsibly; and these persons should be identified and prosecuted.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 25, 2017 2:57 PM
Comment #416701

Everything about this particular leak is suspicious. Normally, a reputable media outlet like the NYT would check before publishing to make sure the information does not compromise an investigation- that is, if the information was unknown in the first place. Was this leak intentional on the part of the Brits? Or by Trump?

Relations between the US and the Brits, once one of our closest allies, is bad. It has been repeatedly reported that British intelligence has been warning US intelligence about Trump, his associates, and his Russian connections. And it is not just the Brits. The Dutch, Poles, and Baltic countries have also been providing us intelligence about Trump.

The NATO meeting was disastrous. Trump did not say anything in support of Article V. That is a BIG deal for the Europeans. Trump did publicly demonstrate the disunity of the alliance by lecturing the members on paying their fair share.

All in all, a great day for Vladimir Putin.

Posted by: phx8 at May 25, 2017 3:43 PM
Comment #416702

By the way, KeelanB, props on a good article.

Posted by: phx8 at May 25, 2017 3:44 PM
Comment #416706

Question for phx8. Should NATO member pay their “fair share”?

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 25, 2017 4:22 PM
Comment #416707

Yes, and if it is an issue, it should be discussed behind closed doors. Showing disunity in front of the world is a bad idea. Showing it and then not even confirming our intention to abide by article V is even worse.

Trump is using the British intelligence leak to become even more aggressive in his war against the MSM media, also known as the free press. In the past, he wanted libel laws to change so he could sue them. It is similar to the Alien and Sedition Law. In his one-on-one with Comey he wanted the Director of the FBI to go after the press. Now he and Sessions want to go all out against the free press.

Vladimir Putin is pleased. Of course, the Russians just kill their problem journalists. We’re not there yet.

But Montana may elect a guy who just physically attacked a reporter, so we’re well on our way.

Posted by: phx8 at May 25, 2017 5:03 PM
Comment #416708

“I find no Constitutional edict that our intelligence agencies share information with the media or directly with the public.”

Does phx8 agree?

“Showing disunity (over past due spending agreement) in front of the world is a bad idea.”

Why is that phx8. You fault Trump for not mentioning Article 5, but give deadbeats a pass.

If deadbeats won’t pay for their own defense, and abide by NATO rules; is that not the same as leaving NATO? If phx8 was a union member and refused to pay union dues; what would happen?

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 25, 2017 5:29 PM
Comment #416709

“Showing disunity in front of the world is a bad idea. Showing it and then not even confirming our intention to abide by article V is even worse.”

What is bizarre to me is that Trump treats our traditional European allies with disdain while he embraces the source of radical Islamic fundamentalism (Saudi Arabia) and the long term adversary of NATO (Russia).

It is striking to me that Trump couldn’t pivot away from a public dressing down of European leaders on the NATO funding issue after the horrific attack in the UK. Solidarity was the appropriate message. He blew it. I don’t think that the leaders of NATO countries will soon forget being publicly embarrassed at a time when unity and commitment to a common defense is needed now more than ever.

Posted by: Rich at May 25, 2017 6:05 PM
Comment #416712

The Constitution provides for a free press and freedom of information as part of an open and transparent government. Intelligence agencies can classify information, which excludes it from the public domain. Citizens can request information from intelligence agencies and other parts of the government under the Freedom of Information Act, and there is also a Mandatory Declassification Review process. At 25 years classified information is declassified unless it meets specific criteria.

Publicly embarrassing allies is just a bad idea. Requesting they pay more should be done in private. Doing it in public serves only to bring a smile to Putin’s face.

Note that Trump did not embarrass the Saudi King over human right violations. That is one of the worst authoritarian regimes in the world and Trump said nothing. Nothing. He would not even say “radical Islamic terrorism.” What a cuck. Instead, his son-in-law sold them $110 billion in arms, to become $350 billion over 10 years. That same weekend, his daughter’s charity received $100 million from them.

The same weekend.

It is called pay to play.

Here is what Trump had to say about the Saudis and the Clinton Foundation:

“Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all money from such countries!”

He said more than that, and more than once. Trump is such an ass. He really is an idiot.

Posted by: phx8 at May 25, 2017 6:18 PM
Comment #416713

I am still waiting for Mr. phx8 to provide us with the web address to contribute to Trump’s daughter’s charity.

phx8 apparently believes that American intelligent agencies should leak information to the press. Well, I expected that as he defended leaks by anything alive that had a (D) behind their name.

Here’s the advice of phx8 that apparently has worked so well with deadbeat NATO members in the past. “Requesting they pay more should be done in private.”

phx8 would rather that American taxpayers be stuck with the defense bill rather than publicly demand that deadbeats pay what they promised. Please stop spending my money phx8 to make you feel good.

How confident should our military members be in coming to the aid of a country that will not pay its bills for defense? Will they shed their own blood, or just expect Americans to shed theirs? Or, they could just surrender to the first threat that comes their way.

If all 28 of my neighbors enter into a mutual agreement to help each other in case of fire, and only a handful of them have a water hose, it is my duty to do all I can to encourage them to buy a hose.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 25, 2017 6:49 PM
Comment #416715

From the WSJ: at least one case of the GOP colluding with the Russians. Guccifer 2.0 provided hacked material on Democratic data for the Florida congressional elections to a Republican political operative, Aaron Nevins. Nevins posted it on his blog under a pseudonym, and then provided it to Roger Stone. Roger Stone gave it to a Paul Ryan super-PAC.

Jared Kushner is under scrutiny by the FBI.

Der Spiegel reports that Trump called the Germans “bad, very bad” at the EU meetings, and said “Look at the millions of cars they sell in the U.S. We’ll stop that.”
Incredible. Hard to believe this is true. Cant it possibly be? It is stupid, even by Trumpian standards. But then again, the man is a complete idiot.

Posted by: phx8 at May 25, 2017 10:10 PM
Comment #416716

NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization…right? Not Europe treaty organization. The issue is why aren’t most European countries spending 2% of GDP on their Military. IMHO the question should be why isn’t America spending 2% of GDP on it’s military. We are going overboard it seems as we spend 3.5% of GDP on defense.

Trump being a businessman should be smart enough to realize that we are being fool hardy with our tax dollars when it comes to military spending. Yet he has asked for an increase in military spending running us further into debt. Letting the country turn to s**t while bloating the military and paying for a wall between us and Mexico whilst complaining about other countries is bad management IMHO.

Running over to Europe and making a fool of himself, publicly blabbering and threatening countries to bow to his demands is bad policy. He exposes the tensions between the US and Europe to all our enemies without regard. The Chinese and North Koreans, not to mention the Russians, must be thanking their gods for the good fortune that has come their way courtesy of the American people.

Watching Trump visit the middle east and Europe is the equivalent of watching Maury Povich and “you are the baby daddy” on TV.I would not have thought it possible but I have to say GWB looks like a good choice compared to Trump. How could we have sank so low so quickly? He was the best choice of the bunch that ran for the repubs.

BTW Royal Trumps daughter is spearheading the fund in question. Why are you in denial about it? The fund accepted money from the same Saudis Trump told us was wrong when Clinton did it. Why the hypocrisy on your part? Why excuse it on their behalf?

Posted by: j2t2 at May 26, 2017 12:04 AM
Comment #416726

“How could we have sank so low so quickly?”

Don’t want to scare the children, but this is just the beginning. Nothing has really happened yet. The shambolic start is a result of self-inflicted wounds, lies- often pointless lies- and gross incompetence. It is an attempt to govern based on conspiracy theories, bigotry, and lies; again and again, insults to good allies, with nothing but compliments for dictators. This is what the country looks like when a corrupt guy runs the White House as a huge business opportunity.

In a 10-3 decision, the latest immigration EO was shot down by the 4th Circuit. The chief judge wrote that the EO “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

The health care bill CBO score was horrendous. It is a thinly veiled effort to turn $880 billion in Medicaid funds for care for the poor into an enormous tax cut for corporations and the richest of the rich. I mean, that is as ugly as it gets. Supposedly 32% of Americans approve of the House bill. They approve. Anyone who spends even a few minutes learning about it should be appalled.

When asked about the CBO score, the GOP candidate in MO assaulted a reporter. Republicans voted for him anyway. Yeah. That happened.

So what will happen when an external event arises? How will this administration handle a crisis? There are a handful of competent people in place- McMasters, Mattis, and a few Goldman Sachs guys. There are a bushel of incompetent ones, along with inexperienced people, idiots, serial liars, and worse- Pence, Sessions, DeVos, Perry, Carson, Kushner, Price, and more.

The Magic Eight Ball says “Outlook not so good.”

Posted by: phx8 at May 26, 2017 3:19 PM
Comment #416728

The activist judges are ruling on partisan assumptions of previous “public statements by the President and his advisers and representatives,” not the EO itself.

Of course some people approve of the health care bill, it returns choice by removing the individual mandate and they hope it will at least slow the skyrocketing prices under the ACA.
Support of forcefully taking $800 billion dollars is ok, but returning a portion of it to its rightful owners is ‘ugly?’ FFS
Don’t worry, the Republicans in the Senate don’t have the nads to do what’s right for American’s and repeal the ACA.

It was MT, not MO. The reporter wasn’t assaulted for simply asking a question, he was assaulted for his behavior.

Talk about “conspiracy theories, bigotry, and lies,” sheesh.

Posted by: kctim at May 26, 2017 4:16 PM
Comment #416729

“The activist judges are ruling on partisan assumptions of previous “public statements by the President and his advisers and representatives,” not the EO itself.”

It is not partisan. It is a matter of law decided by the Supreme Court. A law (or EO) may be legal if viewed without context, yet, if the intent is to discriminate, the law is illegal. For example, the state of NC just had its gerrymandering legislation overturned by its court. Gerrymandering itself is legal. What is illegal is to do it with the intent of racially discriminating. The NC gerrymandering legislation was racial discrimination “with almost surgical precision.” That makes the gerrymander, although legal on its face, illegal in the eyes of our justice system.

As the HI judge stated, the Trump EO was illegal because it intended to set up religious discrimination. “America showed Trump its birth certificate.”

And yes, Montana is MT, thank you.

“The reporter wasn’t assaulted for simply asking a question, he was assaulted for his behavior.”

Not one of the four eyewitness FOX reporters described the reporter’s behavior as deserving of an assault. That was wrong. And it is damning that modern day conservatism condones it, attempts to justify assault “for his behavior,” or willingly overlooks it and votes for the guy anyway. That is absolutely disgraceful.

Posted by: phx8 at May 26, 2017 4:32 PM
Comment #416731


They deemed it ‘illegal’ because they think Trump intended to set up religious discrimination, NOT because the EO actually stated anything like that.

Of course it was wrong, the guy said it was and apologized for it. But it had absolutely nothing to do with simply asking a question, or even the question itself.
The reporter asked a question, the candidate told the reporter to speak with his spokesman, then something happened and the reporter ended up on his a$$.
Listening to the audio, it sounded like the reporter didn’t like being told to talk with the spokesman and persisted, and it sounds like SOP for them. The candidate then reacted in a rash and totally unjustified way.

And if you think this somehow due to Trump or it’s ‘absolutely disgraceful’ to vote for him after that, then perhaps you should ask Franken’s voters how they got over it all and continue to vote for him to this very day.

Posted by: kctim at May 26, 2017 4:55 PM
Comment #416732

“BTW Royal Trumps daughter is spearheading the fund in question.”

Can j2t2 tell me the website for the fund so I can send money? Can he tell me what a “spearhead” is in this case? I posted that Germany’s Chancellor plays the same role as Ms. Trump. Is she also a spearhead?

Thanks for informing us that we only need 2% of GDP for defense. We will now focus only on NATO and let the rest of the world take care of themselves. What a Dolt. Perhaps out Pals on the Left can tell us if we are reimbursed for the cost of stationing troops all over the place. If not, why not?

The Dems are in mourning as once again their hopes to capture a Republican congressional seat was shattered. The party leaders continue to rile up the lemmings but almost always disappoint them with no results.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 26, 2017 5:06 PM
Comment #416733

Ivanka’s charity just started. The Saudis pledged the money. It was her idea, it is brand new, it was just proposed last month, and there is no site yet. The Saudis gave her fund seed money to get it rolling. She announced the pledge at a gala the same weekend her husband was signing the arms deal with the Saudis. She really appreciated it! The fund president was shocked at how fast she was able to raise money. Gosh, wonder how that happened! She proposes a charity and all of the sudden, out of the blue, the Saudis drop $100 million on it!

What nice people the Saudis are.

Posted by: phx8 at May 26, 2017 5:52 PM
Comment #416734

All fantasy phx8. Why not post a link to the facts?

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 26, 2017 5:54 PM
Comment #416736
Thanks for informing us that we only need 2% of GDP for defense. We will now focus only on NATO and let the rest of the world take care of themselves. What a Dolt.

This comment is bereft of any knowledge of militaries or budgets. The 2% figure is supposed to represent a nation’s total military spending, not just what is necessary for NATO.

Personally, I think j2t2 is being far too charitable. Germany gets by fine spending just 1.2% of its GDP on defense. Perhaps we should follow their lead and do likewise.

Posted by: Warren Porter at May 26, 2017 9:23 PM
Comment #416786
Normally, a reputable media outlet like the NYT would check before publishing

Uh, what? “reputable”?

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 29, 2017 9:41 AM
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