New controls over PET announced in wake of media Storm
Following headline-grabbing claims by former PET double agent Morten Storm, government and opposition parties agree that parliament should keep a closer eye on intelligence agency
New rules were presented today that will give the government increased controls over domestic intelligence agency PET.
With an agreement struck between the government coalition and opposition parties Venstre, Konservative and Dansk Folkeparti, parliament will be given more power over PET's use of agents. The deal was made in the wake of numerous revelations by former PET double agent Morten Storm, who claims to have infiltrated al-Qaeda and worked with PET and the CIA to execute the American-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki via a targeted drone strike in Yemen.
Storm's story has generated immense domestic and international attention, culminating with the former biker gang member's appearance on the American news programme '60 Minutes' at the end of December.
In November, Justice Minister Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne) said he would be seeking increased powers for Kontroludvalget, a committee established in 1964 to oversee PET, particularly over the agency's use of civilians as agents.
Bødskov called the new agreement reached on Friday "the right balance that will ensure that we have an effective intelligence agency and a good rule of law". He refused to comment specifically on the Storm case.
The new rules will include an independent supervisory body that will oversee PET's use of agents and the agency's handling of personal information. They will also impose a time limit on personal information gathered by PET. If no additional information on an individual is collected over a period of 15 years, PET must delete its records. Five million kroner was set aside to carry out the tightened supervision of PET.
Bødskov was asked by assembled media at today's 'door step' press conference at the Justice Ministry if the new rules indicated a lack of trust in PET.
"No, definitely not," he responded. "But when you give power with one had, you must increase control with the other."
The official language announcing the deal also stresses that Denmark needs "an effective and well-functioning intelligence agency".
"The parties behind the agreement note that the recent decades have brought very significant changes in the foreign policy and security situation with the end of the Cold War, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the reprinting of the Mohammed cartoons in 2008. This development has led to a serious terror threat against Denmark from networks, groups and lone wolves who profess an Islamist ideology."
Pernille Skipper, an MP for far-left party Enhedslisten, has been a vocal critic of PET in the wake of the Morten Storm affair.
She took to Twitter to voice her disappointment with today's announcement.
"It is hot air packaged in pretty words when Bødskov called the new agreement 'increased control'. Unambitious," she wrote.