Middle East: Security

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 7th January 2020.

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Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace The Secretary of State for Defence 3:37 pm, 7th January 2020

My right hon. Friend is right that the defence, security and foreign policy review is the place for us to examine our place in the world and what funding goes behind that.

When it comes to being informed, every single country, including the United Kingdom and the United States, has a category of no foreign eyes—it is “NOFORN” in the United States and “UK eyes only” in the UK. None of us knows what it is like in other countries when they have short notice, potentially, in a case where life is at risk, or how much time they have to action that intelligence or threat and to inform their friends and neighbours. It is a real challenge. In my experience of having intelligence in front of me as a soldier, we did not always have the luxury of time to inform everybody, even within our own system. We should remember that the United States did not inform Congress, let alone its friends and allies, at that particular moment. We do not know the reason that was urgent enough for the United States Administration to do that. It may well have been that a threat to life, dealing with which is paramount, was more important at that particular moment to that particular decision maker than telling us. They did, however, tell us very quickly after the event, and we have engaged with them throughout the process.