The US leaks British secrets. Our special relationship should be with Europe | Martin Kettle

It’s clear that the transatlantic security relationship can no longer be taken for granted. We must prioritise alliances with our closest neighbours

National security policy rests on a big and mostly unstated bargain between citizens and the state. Citizens allow state agencies, including the police, to do secret and dangerous things on the basis that they are done for reasons we accept as necessary. To paraphrase the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, we give the state power so that we can be free.

The leaking of sensitive secrets disrupts that bargain. That’s one of the reasons why the US security agencies that first leaked the name of the suspect in the Manchester atrocity and then leaked some of the details of the debris collected by police did something very seriously wrong indeed. It helped no one except other would-be bombers. It further upset the distressed bereaved. It did nothing to advance the investigation of the killings or prevent future ones. The agencies, in other words, used their power not to ensure freedom but to put freedom at further risk.

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