NSA non-commital on Ansari's remark

After the Mumbai terror strikes, the issue of performance and financial audit for intelligence agencies has resurrected with MPs asking for parliamentary accountability for such organisations.

The question being asked is whether Indian internal and external  intelligence agencies –– The Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) –– failed to tip off the seaborne terror attack in Mumbai.

Asked for his comment on Ansari’s proposal, former head of IB Arun Bhagat told Deccan Herald that it was a “good” idea which was “talked about, but not debated.” He said it was important to device a methodology to implement it keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue and the possibility of  leakages.

Bhagat said in the US, the intelligence agencies are accountable to the Congress and Senate which control their budget.  The budget is  given to the agencies in “a piecemeal manner”, he said. Same is not the case in the United Kingdom, where parliamentary control is not much in existence.  Making a strong case for political oversight of the RAW and IB, Ansari had suggested setting up a parliamentary committee to look into “financial and performance accountability.”  

Ansari made this statement on Tuesday while delivering the R N Kao memorial lecture at the R&AW headquarters. He also said both accountability and oversight  needed to be introduced into the Indian structure.

M K Narayanan, the National Security Advisor, was  “non-committal” on the need to have a parliamentary oversight body. “The Vice President is a constitutional authority. I shall not comment on what he has said. He is a very wise man and a dear friend also,” Narayanan said.

On  whether the proposal will be examined by the government, Narayanan, a former IB head, hastened to add that the question should be posed before the government.
There is no clear-cut way to establish the accountability of the central intelligence apparatus. In fact , the top two US intelligence agencies  have also been accused for overlooking tell-tale clues in the 9/11 terror strikes.   

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