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British PM Theresa May to confront Donald Trump over US leaks regarding Manchester Bombing

In Brussels for the NATO summit, May told reporters that the deep defense and security partnership between the U.S. and Britain "is built on trust and part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently."

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British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for the NATO summit in Brussels, May 25, 2017.Source-VOA

Brussels, May 25, 2017: British Prime Minister Theresa May says she will raise concerns on Thursday with President Donald Trump over U.S. leaks to the media revealing details of the Manchester bombing investigation.

In Brussels for the NATO summit, May told reporters that the deep defense and security partnership between the U.S. and Britain “is built on trust and part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently.”

“I will be making it clear to President Trump today that inteligence that is shared between law enforcement agency must remain secure,” she said.

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In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said the “alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling.” “I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to
launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

Police working on the Manchester case, who are “furious about the disclosures,” have stopped sharing information with their American counterparts, according to media reports.

The halt in sharing with the United States of police information about the attack will remain in place until assurances are received from Washington that there will be no further leaks, news reports said Thursday.

Various U.S. media outlets reported the name of the suicide bomber, attributing the information to American officials, before it was released by British officials. The New York Times subsequently published forensic photographs from the attack, which had not been officially released.

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People attend a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, England, May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended Monday night.
People attend a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, England, May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended Monday night, VOA

Terrorism fight to top talks

Before meetings this week with NATO leaders, Trump has called terrorism the “number one” problem facing the world, and said we are “making tremendous progress” in the fight against terror.

Trump, meeting Wednesday with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels, said the United States and NATO will work on “various problems,” but Trump pointed to the suicide bombing Monday in Britain and noted terrorism is at the top of the list.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel prior to a meeting at the Royal Palace in Brussels, May 24, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel prior to a meeting at the Royal Palace in Brussels, May 24, 2017, VOA

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“When you see something like that happened a few days ago, you realize how important it is to win this fight, and we will win this fight,” he said.

Aboard Air Force One, on the flight from Italy to Belgium, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump would be “very tough” on NATO allies Thursday and tell them “you need to make sure you’re doing your share for your security as well.”

Trump wants to “persuade NATO members to step up and fully meet their obligations under burden sharing the two percent of GDP is a target they all agreed to,” Tillerson told reporters.

“We have to be able to increase defense spending when tensions are going up. And tensions are going up,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Thursday.

The defense alliance is expected to give the U.S. president at least one big thing he wants, a commitment to the coalition to fight Islamic State.

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“We do think that would be a really important step for them to take,” Tillerson said.

Reassuring allies

Trump is likely to allay NATO members’ concerns about his administration’s commitment to the pact’s mutual assistance pledge, something that has been in doubt.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, shakes hands with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, shakes hands with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017, VOA

During a ceremony Thursday, Trump is expected to endorse Article 5, under which any NATO member agrees to come to the aid of an ally under attack. The only time it has been invoked was when al-Qaida terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

Previous stops

Trump arrived in Brussels Wednesday following talks with the Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome. Trump said on Twitter after the meeting he is “more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands before beginning their meeting at the Presidential Palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, May 23, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands before beginning their meeting at the Presidential Palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, May 23, 2017, VOA

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Prior to Wednesday’s meeting with the pope, Trump spent several days touring the Middle East and meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as other leaders in the Muslim world. While speaking to dozens of Muslim leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he called for Muslim unity in the fight against terrorism.

After participating in the inauguration of a new NATO headquarters and a meeting of the alliance’s leaders, the president will return to Italy, specifically the island of Sicily, for the Group of Seven summit.

May is to cut short her attendance at the NATO leaders’ meeting in Brussels amid a critical-level threat of another terrorist attack in her country. (VOA)

Next Story

After 9/11, America Still In A Never-Ending War To Ensure Safety

For the past 18 years, there is one question that has rarely strayed for long from the minds of a majority of people living in the US: Are we safe?

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Covered in dust, ash and falling debris on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, New York City Transit's express coach #2185 could have been written off and sent off to scrap. It was decided, however, to rebuild her as a symbol of NYC Transit’s resiliency and a rolling example of the dedication of the agency’s employees. Wikimedia Commons

For the past 18 years, there is one question that has rarely strayed for long from the minds of a majority of people living in the US: Are we safe?  Question of safety was etched into the American psyche following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists flew two planes into New York’s World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon, while a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

“I looked out the window and I could see a mountain of concrete and steel just falling past the window, almost like in slow motion, like a curtain going down at a theater,” said Frank Razzano, who witnessed the collapse of the World Trade Center’s South Tower from his New York hotel room.

“I ran to the opposite side of the room and pressed myself against the wall and thought that those were the last few minutes that I was going to have on Earth,” he told VOA in 2013.

Since that day, the need to keep the U.S. safe from attack has been a constant for Americans, no matter their personal politics.

empire, state, building, us, 9/11, terrorism, safety
U.S. Department of Homeland Security election security workers monitor screens in Arlington, Virginia, Nov. 6, 2018. VOA

Top priority: protection from terrorism

According to a Pew Research Center survey, from 2002 through 2018, at least 7 in 10 U.S. adults said protecting the country from terrorism should be a top priority for both the president and lawmakers.

Eighteen years after the 9/11 attacks, the officials responsible for keeping the country safe say progress has been made.

“If you were to step back and think where we were … we are so much better off than we were on 9/12,” Frank Cilluffo, who worked in what was initially known as the Office of Homeland Security, told VOA.

“I think, by and large, the career civil servants and I think the 22 legacy agencies have recalibrated quite well to it to meet today’s demands and threats,” said Cilluffo, who now heads Auburn University’s McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security.

But Cilluffo and other veteran officials called upon to make sure the U.S. would not again fall victim to a 9/11-type attack admit getting there was not easy.

empire, state, building, us, 9/11, terrorism, safety
Empire State Building, NYC. Wikimedia Commons

One of the first steps was to create the Department of Homeland Security, which brought together key agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Secret Service.

It was the first step in an effort to correct what some experts and lawmakers had identified as a key weakness that allowed the 19 terrorists behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to succeed — a failure of government agencies, some of which had vital bits of information about the plot, to communicate critical information and connect the dots.

Still, it wasn’t enough.

Determining mission

“Even then there was a challenge associated with trying to figure out what our mission profile really needed to be and the priorities within that mission profile,” said retired Admiral James Loy, who served as the new department’s first deputy secretary. “What was the business of this new department and how were we going to set about pulling it off?”

They settled on five words: awareness, prevention, protection, response and recovery.

“Those five words became the license, if you will, for all of us to continue doing what we were doing and begin the process of trying to do other things collaboratively that had never been done perhaps by this particular gathering,” Loy recalled at a gathering of former DHS deputy secretaries Wednesday.

There were also adjustments that had to be made by the many officials who came to DHS either from the military or the intelligence community.

“I found out that everything I thought I knew about the role of the federal government in dealing with security was wrong,” said Jane Holl Lute, who served as a DHS deputy secretary under U.S. President Barack Obama.

“Your relationship between the public, government and fear is very different,” she said.

empire, state, building, us, 9/11, terrorism, safety
The 9/11 attacks. Wikimedia Commons

Instead of concentrating on carefully gathered information from well-placed spies or sources, DHS had to learn to partner with civilians.

“The men and women of this country know an enormous amount about what’s happening,” Lute said. “We actually found out that streetcar vendors in Times Square in New York have pretty valuable information.”

Lute and other former and current officials are confident that the government has been able to find ways to reach out to civilians and even to private businesses.

Still, as the threats have evolved to include disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks, they say more will need to be done.

ALSO READ: U.S. Investigating What might Be Causing Hundreds of Serious Breathing Illnesses in People Who Use E-Cigarettes

‘Woefully inadequate’

Some officials also see shortcomings despite yearly budgets that have more than doubled since Congress set aside $19.5 billion for Homeland Security in 2002.

“If you look at the infrastructure of the department, it is woefully inadequate,” said Paul Schneider, another former deputy secretary. He added that so much money is tied up in mandatory programs, such as disaster relief, that there is little left to make needed improvements.

“There’s CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] Border Patrol stations that look like, you know, a 1950s cowboy movie of the Pony Express,” he said.

But one of the biggest challenges for homeland security officials may be overcoming the language that so many in the U.S. have come to associate with the department — the war on terror.

“Our war on terror begins with al-Qaida, but it does not end there,” former President George W. Bush told a joint session of Congress nine days after the 2001 attacks. “It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

It was a powerful message in the wake of tragedy. But former officials, like Cilluffo, admit it is a war that can never really be won.

“The reality is there’s never an end state,” Cilluffo said. “It’s something that we have to continually adapt, continually prioritize and continually get the job done.” (VOA)