The United States has once again attempted to tighten its intelligence grip on its allies in the wake of recent revelations. Following the illegal disclosure that the UK Cabinet had decided to allow Huawei a limited role in the establishment of the UK’s 5G network, Rob Strayer, the US State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber Communications, has re-iterated that the United States may withdraw intelligence co-operation from allies who do not fall into line with US policy. He said that the US “was going to have to consider the risk that [co-operation with Huawei] produces to our information sharing arrangements with them.”
Mr Strayer was being diplomatic in his language, but the threats emerging from the Trump administration are consistent: “do as we tell you or full intelligence co-operation may be withdrawn.” This continues to mark a distinct shift in US policy towards allies. Under previous administrations, these concerns would have been discussed behind closed doors, but the Trump administration seems to prefer open threats. We recently reported how Germany had been subject to similar threats, not just because of possible co-operation with Huawei, but also in the case of a new gas pipeline with Russia. The Trump administration is concerned that US allies should use US products and US services with intelligence and security co-operation being used as a lever to gain concessions. This is a change that continues to cause concern amongst US intelligence allies.