1946 UK-US intelligence agreement published

The Guardian reports that the terms of a 1946 secret agreement that became the core of the special relationship between Britain and the US have been recently published (read it here).

A six-page “British-US Communication Intelligence Agreement”, known as BRUSA, later UKUSA, tied the two countries into a worldwide network of listening posts run by GCHQ, Britain’s biggest spying organisation, and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency.

Though its existence has long been known, the agreement, negotiated in London in March 1946, is only now being published, and for the first time officially acknowledged, after freedom of information requests in Britain and the US. Under the agreement, the countries agreed to exchange the knowledge from operations involving intercepting, decoding and translating foreign communications, including the “acquisition of communication documents and equipment”.

A GCHQ spokesman said last night: “The 1946 UKUSA agreement formed the basis for co-operation between the two countries throughout the cold war and continues to be essential in keeping the UK safe from today’s threats.”

Ed Hampshire, a senior records specialist at the National Archives, said: “The agreement represented a crucial moment in the development of the ‘special relationship’ between the two wartime allies and captured the spirit and practice of the signals intelligence co-operation which had evolved on an ad-hoc basis during the second world war.”

He added: “As the threat posed by Nazi Germany was replaced by a new one in the east, the agreement formed the basis for intelligence co-operation during the cold war. The two nations – linked by common bonds of history, culture and language – agreed not to collect intelligence against each other or to tell any ‘third party’ about the existence of the agreement.”

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