Friday, 27 Nov 2020

Ex-spy boss: Biden win could boost Five Eyes intelligence cooperation

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Dr Anthony Wells, who has worked for British Intelligence as a UK citizen, and the US National Reconnaissance Agency as an American citizen, said the Vice-President, currently ahead in the polls, will offer a soothing balm to the often caustic relations between Trump and other heads of state

Crucially, he will use his own intelligence services to greater effect.

“During the past four years the Five Eyes have stood the test of many challenges from a United States government that has eschewed intelligence. Five Eyes intelligence is based on reliable, accurate, timely, non political, and certainly non partisan, actionable intelligence,” said Dr Wells,  author of the new book Between Five Eyes.

“What we’ve witnessed is an unprecedented challenge to the bedrock principles regarding the wise and unfettered analysis of the most sensitive and apolitical intelligence. Intelligence which is either ignored, or skewed for political purposes, serves no end in the long term, other than to create disharmony and drive hard working, highly capable, and loyal professionals into either retirement or other employment.

“This has had a knock-on effect within the entire Five Eyes relationship.”

Trump’s relationship with the CIA have been strained since partisan CIA director Mike Pompeo was promoted to Secretary of State.

Pompeo’s replacement, Gina Haspel, has long ceased regular weekly Oval Office briefings. Partly, this is because of Trump’s short attention span and partly, say sources, it’s because of tensions over policy decisions after she refused to back Trump’s position over Russian election meddling in 2016 and now, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s culpability for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and North Korea’s leadership. 

“Pompeo has had to train her in how to handle Trump,” said Dr Wells. 

This has meant focusing the agency’s resources on America First issues like American hostages overseas. 

Just yesterday US hostage Philip Nathan Walton was rescued by US Special Forces from Northern Nigeria, where he was being held while his captors sought ransom.

The 27-year-old had been kidnapped a week ago from his farm in Massalata, Niger, and it was CIA intelligence which tracked down his location across the border.

President Trump, with just three days to go until elections, hailed the operation a “big win for our very elite US special Forces”.

While inter- agency relations have remained strong between Five eyes countries, he said, the lack of a multi- lateral approach at the top has meant important Pol IISS have been pushed into the long grass.

One example is the urgent requirement to tackle threats to the GPS network and Global Navigation Satellite System which has already been attacked on several occasions by China.  

“The Five Eyes require urgent attention to this, but have faced intransigence from the Trump administration.

“From  growing capabilities and overseas basing of the Chinese Navy, illicit Russian clandestine and covert operations, cyber threats of a myriad nature, to the rise of “Far Right” organizations in several countries, including the United States, ongoing and persistent problems in the Middle East, notably Syria and Iran, and the ever running sore of North Korea and nuclear weapons monitoring, the threats are real”,  he said.

“They all add up to the Five Eyes requiring a new and invigorated Biden administration to take the lead in the cooperative and alliance friendly spirit that has endured since 1941. “Trump has trampled all over relationships.

“What Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand need no deserve is an administration that sends the unequivocal message: ‘We are with you, totally, we support you, we will listen to you, and we will give you unfettered independence in the analysis and presentation of your data to your national entities, and the collective Five Eyes governments.”

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