The admission were seen as somewhat of a faux-pas because of the secretive nature of the meeting with Sawers, which is unusual for non-sitting heads of state. It also sparked speculation, according to London's Telegraph newspaper, that Sawers may have urged Romney to make sure the United States gets actively involved in Syria to keep the chemical weapon-armed country stable, if he becomes president.
"I wonder if this is some sort of anticipatory move for a change of power in the White House to exert pressure over the West’s possible role in Syria,” former chairman of the House of Commons's intelligence and security sub-committee Patrick Mercer told the Telegraph. "I wonder if this does not set a strange precedent where other leaders of other oppositions will also want similar briefings.”
Romney has been vague about how he would handle Syria, where the 17-month rebellion against President Bashar Assad has left more than 17,000 dead. He did not lay out a plan for what he would do during his foreign policy speech Tuesday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention, and said little beyond criticizing Obama for not being “assertive” enough. In a statement in May, Romney endorsed the idea of working “with partners to organize and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves.”