On Tuesday, CBS and NBC were quick to name the suspect believed to have blown himself up following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. The Reuters news agency, an international organisation with headquarters in London, also published the name, citing “three US officials”, before British police made it public.
The Trump administration’s apparent indiscretion seems likely to cause consternation in London and could raise questions about future cooperation in the long term.
Thomas Sanderson, director of the transnational threats project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies thinktank in Washington, said the disclosures would be irritating to the British. “Suddenly you’ve got 10,000 reporters descending on the bomber’s house when maybe the police wanted to approach it more subtly,” he said.
Sanderson warned of ill judgment and lack of discipline in the White House. “This is a leaky administration. What does that mean for sharing information we need to going forward? The UK and Israel are probably our two biggest sources of intelligence. Now they’re thinking, ‘Is this going to cause us damage every time we share?’ Then you have to calculate every piece of information.”