For an intelligence agency that likes to hug the shadows, GCHQ’s rejection of claims that it bugged Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters during last year’s presidential contest was an unusually public statement. But it is an iron law of the deeply entrenched cooperation between the US and British intelligence communities that they do not use the formidable resources at their disposal to spy on each other, nor to conduct operations on each other’s sovereign domains. To do so would irreparably damage the bond of trust that is vital to sharing highly-sensitive information.
The mere suggestion that British intelligence officers were asked by their American counterparts to spy on the then Mr Trump risks compromising a vital pillar of the transatlantic alliance, namely that neither side involves itself in the domestic political affairs of the other.
At the start of this unsavoury affair, GCHQ did...
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