29/06/2004

Counter-terror focus leaves British spies out in the cold: report

Directing much-needed resources into counter-terror measures has meant that Britain's spies are taking more risks, a Parliamentary intelligence committee report has found.

The Commons' Intelligence and Security Committee said that as a result of the "greater threats and challenges" posed by terrorists, efforts had focused in this direction to the detriment of intelligence work being done elsewhere.

After the intelligence committee's 'Annual Report 2003-2004' was laid before Parliament today, committee chairman Ann Taylor - whilst acknowledging that it had been an "extremely difficult year" - said that "other important work is not being carried out as fully as Ministers and the Agencies

themselves would wish".

More work also needed to be done to identify the vulnerabilities of the UK's critical national infrastructure to electronic attack, Ms Taylor said.

However, the committee commended the British intelligence community for continuing to identify, monitor, report and disrupt threats to the UK and its interests.

Obtaining Libya's commitment to disband its weapons of mass destruction was highlighted as a major intelligence success for SIS – MI6 and MI5 – which saw effective cooperation with their US counterparts, the CIA, and the Foreign Office.

The formation of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) has also been a success because it effectively brought together the UK's counter-terrorism expertise in one place, Ms Taylor added.

(gmcg)

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