PET controls come with financial windfall for intelligence agency

While five million kroner a year will be set aside to keep an eye on PET, the agency itself will receive more than twice as much money to respond to any concerns raised

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February 18th, 2013 12:20 pm| by admin
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A new monitoring organisation being set up to keep a closer eye on domestic intelligence agency PET will receive five million kroner annually to oversee how the agency goes about its business. Critics say, however, that although increased oversight is long overdue, five million kroner a year is nowhere near enough money to do the job effectively, especially given that the government also plans to allocate 11.6 million kroner per year, more than twice as much, to PET to allow it to respond and comply to the oversight group’s findings. The extra cash comes on top of the 800 million kroner per year that PET already receives in operating funds.

"We are strengthening control of PET significantly, and it is clear that the increased supervision requires that PET is able to comply with the results of that supervision," Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), the justice minister, told Berlingske newspaper.

The new parliamentary oversight agency, which critics have already said would leave Denmark as one of the European countries with the least control over its intelligence agency, will be significantly under-funded in comparison to neighbouring Norway and Sweden. The supervisory agency of the Norwegian intelligence service received just under 11 million Norwegian kroner in 2011, and the corresponding Swedish group received nearly 18 million Swedish kroner in 2012.

"We may be creating a paper tiger without even the resources to perform the most basic of tasks, such as personnel oversight,” Jacob Mchangama, the general counsel for the left-leaning think tank CEPOS, told Berlingske.

Calls for closer looks at the actions of PET have come in the wake of the numerous revelations by former PET double agent Morten Storm, who claims to have infiltrated al-Qaeda and worked with PET and the CIA to assassinate the American-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki via a targeted drone strike in Yemen. Storm's story has generated immense domestic and international attention

Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen, a former PET head of operations, said the unequal distribution of funds begs the question of “who actually controls whom”.

Bødskov said that he sees no paradox in the funding structure, and called the creation of the new monitoring agency a “landmark”. 

(photo: Henrik Stenberg)
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