LONDON – LONDON (AP) — Details of the sweeping intelligence sharing pact struck between the United States and Britain at the dawn of the Cold War were made public for the first time Friday, laying bare the details of an unprecedented espionage arrangement.
The 1946 UKUSA agreement — a secret deal to not to spy on one another and to share nearly every single piece of radio intercept material — was a keystone of the United States' global intelligence-gathering apparatus, allowing it to pool its resources with Britain and other countries.
At the heart of the agreement was a pledge that "each party shall make available to the other without request and as a matter of routine, and shall furnish as requested, all communication intelligence produced by its operating agencies."
Both the U.S. and Britain agreed not to tell any third party about the agreement. And while the existence of the UKUSA became common knowledge well before then, Britain's communications espionage agency, GCHQ, did not officially acknowledge it until 2006.
With the Soviet Union beginning to flex its muscles on the world stage, the agreement was an attempt to systematize the ad hoc intelligence sharing that already existed as the U.S. and Britain confronted the Nazis during World War II, according to Ed Hampshire, the principal records specialist at Britain's National Archives, which declassified the material Friday.
"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," he said.