Never before has a US president attracted so much public criticism from US intelligence and its closest intelligence ally, Britainby Calder Walton / March 27, 2017 / Leave a comment
Britain’s signals intelligence agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), recently made an unprecedented public statement rejecting allegations made by the White House that it had “wiretapped” the US President, Donald Trump. GCHQ did not mince its words, describing the allegations as “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous.” It said that they “should be ignored.” Malcolm Rifkind, a former chair of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, labelled the allegations “stupid” and “rubbish.” Meanwhile, GCHQ’s sister signals intelligence agency in America, the NSA, termed the claim “arrant nonsense.” Never before has the White House attracted the collective public criticism of America’s own intelligence community and that of its closest intelligence ally, Britain.
Despite the diplomatic furore caused on both sides of the Atlantic, at the time of writing President Trump appears to be standing firm on the uncorroborated claim that British intelligence spied on him. The saga started, inevitably, with a series of early-morning tweets from President Trump on 4th March. He accused his predecessor, President Obama, of instigating a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap his phones: “Terrible! Just found out that President Obama had “wire tappes” [sic] in Trump Tower before the victory,” adding in another tweet about Obama, “bad (or sick) guy!” After Trump’s twitter storm of allegations, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, was quick to deny there had been a wiretap on Trump Tower—which, as the head of US intelligence, he would have known about. After looking into the allegations, the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by a Trumpophile, Rep. Devin Nunes, stated that no wiretapping of Trump Tower had occurred. The House intelligence committee’s counterpart in the Senate issued a similarly robust statement, finding “no indications” of wiretapping or wider surveillance at Trump Tower. At this point, with the White House apparently backed into a corner about the president’s wiretapping claim, events took on an even stranger turn—and a more damaging one internationally—dragging Britain into the saga.
Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, stated that the president stood by his allegation of wiretapping, but with a refinement: Spicer cited a claim made on Fox News by a right-wing legal commentator, Judge Andrew Napolitano, that President Obama had not used US intelligence agencies to spy on Trump, but instead Britain’s GCHQ—so there would be “no American fingerprints” on the wiretaps. When challenged about…