Justice minister to seek more control over intelligence agency

In light of the sensational revelations from double-agent Morten Storm, the justice minister wants PET to report to parliament about the use of civilian agents

November 22nd, 2012 5:55 am| by admin

Following the uproar created by the numerous revelations from former PET secret-agent Morten Storm, the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), is now calling for parliament to have more control over the domestic intelligence agency. 


In an interview with Berlingske newspaper, Bødskov said that he is seeking increased powers for parliament's Kontroludvalg, a committee established in 1964 to oversee PET.


The move comes in response to the many questions that have arisen about PET's actions following Storm's decision to contribute to a series of articles in Jyllands-Posten newspaper that chronicled his time as a PET double-agent. Storm says he assisted PET in tracking al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki for the American intelligence agency, the CIA, which clearly had the intention of assassinating him. Storm also claims to have arranged a Western wife for al-Awlaki, who was sent to Yemen with tracking equipment placed in her luggage by PET without her knowledge. He also alleges that PET attempted to buy his silence by offering him 25,000 tax-free kroner a month for the next five years if he promised to keep quiet about his role in the hunt for al-Awlaki. 


After Storm's claims made an international splash, numerous politicians and human rights organisations demanded investigations into PET.


Among those wanting answers was Enhedslisten's Pernille Skipper, whose party had called Bødskov in for an "open meeting" scheduled for today. 


“This case is so complex that anyone can see that we need some answers,” Skipper told Politiken newspaper last month. “There are two central elements we need to have answers to. One is whether PET has helped the CIA with a plan to kill somebody rather than have him put in front of a court. The other is now whether PET has also used an innocent person as live bait. That’s not just a violation of rules, it is completely morally reprehensible.”


Bødskov's move would give Kontroludvalget insight into PET's use of civilians as agents – something that elected officials have not historically had. 


"It is important for the government to have some peace of mind around these questions in parliament," Bødskov told Berlingske. "Therefore, as something completely new, we will see to it that parliament's Kontroludvalg receives notifications on PET's use of civilians as agents."


The Storm case is not the only controversy currently involving PET. Just yesterday, the intelligence agency was criticised for allowing one of its agents to sell two AK-47s to three men suspected of plotting a terrorist attack. Once the investigation in that case was handed over to Copenhagen Police, however, no grounds were found for pursuing any terror charges. One of the defence lawyers in the case said of PET's actions: “Maybe it didn’t go over the line, but it went right up to it.”


Last month, it was also revealed that PET withheld a potential alibi of one of the five men on trial for politically-motivated domestic terrorism.


Despite Bødskov seeking more parliamentary oversight of PET, in an opinion piece published by Berlingske, he praised the agency for its work in keeping Denmark safe from terror attacks and pledged that "PET has my full backing in [its] vital and necessary work."

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