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EDITIONS
Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
New spy mandarin for UK
The MI6 building
Sir David Omand will co-ordinate MI6, MI5 and GCHQ
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has appointed a senior civil servant to take over the co-ordination of the government's intelligence and security effort.

Sir David Omand will be given the title Security and Intelligence Coordinator and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, in a newly-created post.

The appointment follows several criticisms of UK security in the run-up to 11 September.


It is imperative that the official agencies tasked with gathering and assessing intelligence... have the human, financial and other resources they require

Commons Foreign Affairs Committee
Sir David, 54, will take over much of the responsibility for coordinating the work of MI5, MI6 and the GCHQ "listening" agency from the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Richard Wilson.

He will be given a seat on the key Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) which prepares intelligence assessments for the prime minister and other senior ministers.

Sir David has previously served as director of GCHQ and in a top policy post in the Ministry of Defence.

He was permanent secretary at the Home Office for three years until January 2001 when he stepped down for treatment for lymphatic cancer.

Terror warnings 'unheeded'

On Thursday a committee of MPs claimed clear signs that terrorists were gearing up for an attack in the run-up to 11 September "were not acted upon".


The shortage of specific intelligence and Osama Bin Laden's record could have warned all concerned that more urgent action was needed to counter this threat

Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee
In the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report, the MPs called for action to be taken to ensure that did not happen again - including adequate funding for the UK intelligence services.

That followed last week's criticism by the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee of the failure of the intelligence agencies to take more urgent action to counter the threat posed by the al-Qaeda network.

In its annual report, the committee said papers had been given to ministers last July warning that an al-Qaeda attack was in the "final stages of preparation".

However, it said the agencies lacked specific intelligence about the nature or target of the attack, and should have done more to discover al-Qaeda's intentions.

Similar criticisms have been made in the US, where an entire new department has been set up to deal with homeland security.

On Thursday it was claimed that two messages intercepted by US agents on 10 September could have suggested a major event was to take place the next day - but the Arabic messages were not translated into English until 12 September.

See also:

20 Jun 02 | UK Politics
13 Jun 02 | UK Politics
02 Dec 01 | UK Politics
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