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December 11, 2006
So This Was Our Intel Priority In The 1990s?

The Observer dropped a bombshell yesterday when it revealed that American intelligence had Princess Diana bugged and under surveillance the night of her death. It adds yet another strange aspect to the freak show that her demise has inspired, but opens some questions about American priorities:

The American secret service was bugging Princess Diana's telephone conversations without the approval of the British security services on the night she died, according to the most comprehensive report on her death, to be published this week.

Among extraordinary details due to emerge in the report by former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Stevens is the revelation that the US security service was bugging her calls in the hours before she was killed in a car crash in Paris.

In a move that raises fresh questions over transatlantic agreements on intelligence-sharing, the surveillance arm of the US has admitted listening to her conversations as she stayed at the Ritz hotel, but failed to notify MI6. Stevens is understood to have been assured that the 39 classified documents detailing Diana's final conversations did not reveal anything sinister or contain material that might help explain her death.

Scotland Yard's inquiry, published this Thursday, also throws up further intelligence links with the Princess of Wales on the night she died. The driver of the Mercedes, Henri Paul, was in the pay of the French equivalent of M15. Stevens traced £100,000 he had amassed in 14 French bank accounts though no payments have been linked to Diana's death.

In 1997, the United States had suffered attacks by radical Islamists in Khobar Towers and at the World Trade Center. Osama bin Laden prepared to transfer his operations to Afghanistan. Clinton administration officials have told us for the past five years that terrorism occupied their primary focus.

So what the hell were we doing spying on Diana?

This undercores the impression that America didn't take security seriously in the 1990s. Diana had zero interest to our national security. The only interest America had in Diana was commercial; she sold truckloads of magazines. Besides her work opposing the use of land mines, which the US wants to continue using in certain situations, she had almost no impact on politics at all here, let alone security.

Someone needs to explain our activity regarding Diana. Nine years after her death, we need to know why American intelligence chiefs found Diana so fascinating that we put her under surveillance without notifying our closest allies -- and why that mission seemed so critical while our deadliest enemies built their capabilities out of our sight.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 11, 2006 5:18 AM

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Tracked on December 11, 2006 12:50 PM


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