Why no anger on corruption and neglignece in our Security Agencies

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by ejazr, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Business Line : Columns / B S Raghavan : Security at risk from officials' negligence

    August 5, 2011:

    By and large, the country's political class, pressured by public opinion, demands in Parliament or judicial activism, has taken action against Ministers, including Chief Ministers, accused of malfeasance of various kinds, removing them summarily from public office and launching investigations. It may well be that it does so grudgingly, resorting to cover-ups and other subterfuges to weaken the prosecution, or foul up the cases in courts.

    But action of some kind there has undeniably been, particularly after the fight against corruption had begun gripping the people's imagination nation-wide. Some recent examples are the scams relating to Adarsh Housing Estate, Commonwealth Games, allocation of 2G licences, Hasan Ali and so on. The number of political and corporate big shots caught in the clutches of the long arm of the law and jailed without bail has perhaps been the largest in living memory.

    But the ruling political dispensation has been, strangely and inexplicably, very lax in dealing with high officials in positions impinging on national security for their failures, tantamount to negligence, where they could do, and had, in fact, done, great harm.

    The first such egregious laches was in respect of the Mumbai carnage of 26/11 when 10 members of Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) managed to infiltrate by sea into the city and freely went about dealing death and destruction for three days. I have it on the high authority of a security expert familiar with threats faced by the nation, that there was no lack of advance intelligence about the plans of the LET for a sea-borne commando raid, but, despite this, no effective steps were taken to strengthen the coastal defence and inland security in the targeted coastal areas.

    “There was no advance thinking on what kind of follow-up action was called for on the available intelligence and on how to take that follow-up action and under whose operational leadership. There was a total failure of security alertness before the infiltrators managed to land in Mumbai.” This, in the expert's opinion, was what offered spectacular success on a platter to the LET.

    “SECURITY FRAUD”

    He has concluded that the failure of the human element and not deficiencies in technical capabilities was the principal factor facilitating the murderous spree of the desperadoes of the LET. Concerted advance action by the National Security Adviser, the Cabinet Secretary and the Home Secretary at the Centre and the Home Secretary and the Director-General of Police in Maharashtra could have easily prevented this.

    Last June, the media gave extensive coverage to a “security fraud” of Rs 450-crore unearthed by the CAG in the purchase of Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by the Hyderabad-based National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) under the Research and Analysis Wing and overseen by the National Security Adviser.

    There were also reports of serious security violation in not conducting a mandatory check in the purchase of an encryption system for the NTRO's mobile satellite communication system, Sampark, and the entire hardware becoming junk.

    Now comes the disturbing news of Pavit, an abandoned Panama-flagged merchant ship, drifting near or in Indian waters for about 100 hours before finally running aground in Mumbai. As The Hindu has pointed out, “The Navy, responsible for security beyond 12 nautical miles, the Coast Guard, which patrols the zone between 5 and 12 nautical miles and the newly-created Marine Police, all failed to detect it.”

    UNPRODUCTIVE INQUIRIES

    Considering the grave dangers to which these omissions had exposed the nation in all these instances, all the officials occupying top positions of authority and oversight should have been instantly relieved of their functions; even dismissal under the article of the Constitution which gives the Government the power to dispense with the usual departmental proceedings would have been justified in some cases. Instead, the Government has been content with the rigmarole of unproductive inquiries, which are soon lost within the catacombs of the Government.

    This is no way of enforcing accountability and being alive to the vital importance of national security in these troubled times.
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Business Line : Columns / B S Raghavan : Do not trifle with India's security

    December 1, 2011:

    I wrote in my column “Security at risk from officials' negligence” (Business Line, August 5): “…the ruling political dispensation has been, strangely and inexplicably, very lax in dealing with high officials in positions impinging on national security for their failures, tantamount to negligence, where they could do, and had, in fact, done, great harm…Considering the grave dangers to which (their) omissions had exposed the nation … even dismissal (without) the usual departmental proceedings would have been justified in some cases. “

    I now find that an article “How to let a mole escape” datelined November 6 in The Sunday Guardian, documents more shocking and, indeed, more treasonous, instances implicating, by name and designation, several officials of India's security establishment, including agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research Analysis Wing (RAW) which the people have always assumed to be the impregnable bastions of national security.

    It says flatly: “What sets India apart from other major powers is the lenient treatment given to such elements by an establishment more focused on protecting its image than on security.”

    ‘ZERO PUNISHMENT'

    The instances recounted by the article by way of substantiating this deeply perturbing charge make one wonder whether there is actually a conspiracy to endanger India's security by the very functionaries who were supposed to be its protectors.

    The article starts off with the way the IB and the Kerala police, egged on by CIA moles, ruined the lives, reputations and careers of two scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation by foisting false cases on them.

    It goes on to say: “…there has been zero punishment on the IB and police officers associated with the framing of two innocent ISRO scientists. Indeed, the IPS officer who headed the Special Investigation Team that cooked up evidence in the case, had a spectacular career in the force subsequently.”

    I pass over the article's references to the penetration in Rajiv Gandhi's time, of the Prime Minister's Office, then headed by P. C. Alexander, who later on rose to great heights as the Governor of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra and Member Rajya Sabha, the letting off of an IPS officer in the IB's office in Chennai who was caught in flagrante delicto with a woman case officer of the CIA, and the prospering of a senior RAW officer who was having an affair with a woman officer of the CIA and “who was allowed to retire with not only his freedom but his pension intact”!

    The article reserves, for a comprehensive, blow-by-blow recital, the case of Rabinder Singh, who for more than 17 years prior to his exposure in 2003 was a CIA mole in RAW.

    It provides particulars of the most monstrous collusion, if not downright abetment, by fellow officers of the IB and the RAW who, from all that the article brings to light, were bent on shielding him and helped him to escape to the US.

    NEFARIOUS ROLES

    As per the article, the more prominent among those whom it derisively dubs as “Good Samaritans” for their acquiescence in, if not connivance with, Rabinder's treachery, were one S. B. K. Singh who warned him of his being under surveillance, Gurinder Singh who prompted him to flee, and Sanjiv Tripathi, the mole's immediate superior at the time, since elevated to be the chief of RAW. The article concludes: “Altogether, 24 officers were questioned in the wake of Rabinder Singh's suspiciously easy escape via Nepal to the US in March 2004, when the NDA was ..in power. Not one of the two dozen involved in the case has been proceeded against, nor has had his career blighted, although at least six showed carelessness, if not complicity, in both the CIA asset's activities as well as in enabling Singh to escape.”

    There is no way the Government can dismiss the article as either conjectural or biased because it has specifically mentioned the nefarious roles played by different officials of security agencies by explicitly naming names.

    Nothing short of a point-by-point clarification or refutation will remove the grave misgivings in the minds of the people of India about the Government being indifferent to the imperatives of the country's security.


    ------------------------------------------------
    The sunday Guardian article for those interested
    HOW TO LET A MOLE ESCAPE
     
  4. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The Hindu : News / National : The government's listening to us

    Ever since 26/11, India has made massive purchases of communications intelligence equipment from secretive companies from India and abroad. In the absence of effective legal oversight, it threatens the democracy it was bought to defend.

    In the summer of 1999, an officer at a Research and Analysis Wing communications station in western India flipped a switch, and helped change the course of the Kargil conflict. RAW's equipment had picked up Pakistan's army chief and later military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, speaking to his chief of staff, General Muhammad Aziz, from a hotel room in Beijing. “The entire reason for the success of this operation,” the RAW officer heard General Aziz saying on May 29, 1999, “was this total secrecy.” He probably smiled.

    For the first time, India had hard evidence that Pakistan's army, not jihadists, had planned and executed a war that had brought two nuclear-armed states to the edge of a catastrophic confrontation. RAW's computers established that the voices were indeed those of Generals Musharraf and Aziz, pinpointed their locations – and undermined Pakistan's diplomatic position beyond redemption.

    India's strategic community finally awoke to the possibilities of modern communications intelligence, and unleashed a massive effort to upgrade the country's technical capabilities. A new organisation, the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), was set up; scientists in the Indian Institutes of Technology were tapped, and quiet efforts to acquire technology worldwide were initiated.

    Late into the night the 26/11 attacks began in Mumbai, that investment paid off: equipment flown in from New Delhi by the Intelligence Bureau allowed investigators to intercept the assault team's communications with the Lashkar-e-Taiba's headquarters in Pakistan. Police forces across the country have since scrambled to purchase similar equipment, making India one of the largest markets for global vendors.

    But this isn't good news: India has no appropriate legal framework to regulate its vast, and growing, communications intelligence capabilities. There is almost no real institutional oversight by political institutions like Parliament — which means there is a clear and imminent danger that the technology could undermine the very democracy it was purchased to defend.

    Who is selling?

    From a trove of documents obtained by The Hindu, working in collaboration with WikiLeaks and an international consortium of media and privacy organisations monitoring the communications intelligence industry, it is evident Indian companies are already offering technologies very similar to the most formidable available in the world.

    Himachal Pradesh-based Shoghi — once blacklisted by the government pending investigation of its relationship with corruption-linked former telecommunications Minister Sukh Ram — has become one of the largest suppliers to the Indian armed forces and RAW. It offers a range of equipment to monitor satellite, mobile phone, and strategic military communications.

    Shoghi's SCL-3412 satellite communications link monitoring system can, its literature says, even “passively monitor C and Ku-band satellite compressed and non-compressed telecom carriers from Intelsat, Eutelsat, Arabsat, Turksat.” The company also claims its equipment can automatically analyse “bulk speech data” — in other words, listen in and pick particular languages, words, or even voices out of millions of simultaneous conversations taking place across the world.

    India's other large communications intelligence firm, Indore-headquartered ClearTrail, says its products “help communication service providers, law enforcement, and government agencies worldwide to counteract the exploitation of today's communication networks, fight terrorism and organised crime.” The company's brochures say it has portable equipment that can pluck mobile phone voice and text messages off the air, without the support of service providers — service providers who must, by law, be served with legal authorisation to allow monitoring.

    The Hindu telephoned officials at both companies, and then e-mailed them requesting meetings to discuss issues raised in its investigation. Neither company responded; one said it was barred from discussing technical questions with the media by its terms of contract with its military clients.

    Large parts of the most sophisticated equipment, defence sources told The Hindu, come in from Israel — itself a beneficiary of a special relationship with the United States. “Israeli vendors often tell us that they're charging extraordinarily high prices in return for breaking embargos on sharing these technologies,” one officer said, “but there's no way of knowing this is the case.”

    “If we get what we need,” he said, “we're willing to pay — there's no point quibbling over a few million dollars.”

    Ever since 26/11, companies like Shoghi and ClearTrail haven't been short of customers: police forces have queued up to purchase passive interception technologies, which allow them to maintain surveillance not just on phone numbers specified in legally-mandatory warrants from the Home Secretary, but on all conversations in an area, or region. There are even cases of out-of-state operations: the Delhi Police have periodically maintained a passive interception capability at the Awantipora military station in Jammu and Kashmir, an act with no basis in law. The Army also has significant passive interception capabilities along the Line of Control (LoC) — which also pick up civilian communication.

    Computers at key net hubs

    India's National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) has also deployed computers fitted at key internet hubs — the junction boxes, as it were, through which all of the country's internet traffic must pass. Police forces in several States, among them Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh, have followed suit, with smaller variants of the same technology.

    The risks of this proliferation of technology have become evident over the last two years. In Punjab, one of four passive interception units is reported to be missing, feared to have been lost to a political party or corporate institution. Andhra Pradesh actually shut down its passive interception capabilities after it accidentally intercepted sensitive conversations between high officials. Karnataka officials also accidentally intercepted conversations involving a romantic relationship between a leading politician and a movie star — while Mumbai has had several scandals involving unauthorised listening-in to phones owned by corporate figures and movie stars.

    Intelligence Bureau sources told The Hindu they had been working, for the past several months, to get States to shut down the 33 passive interception units in their possession — but with little success. The pervasive attitude in a federal or quasi-federal polity seems to be: if the Centre can do it, why can't we?

    Police do require warrants to tap individual phones, but in practice authorisations are handed out with little thought. In one notorious case, the politician Amar Singh's phone conversations were recorded with the consent of his service provider on the basis of what turned out to be a faked government e-mail. Mr. Singh's personal life became a subject of public discussion, but no one has yet been held accountable for the outrageously unlawful intrusion into his privacy.

    Last year, journalist Saikat Datta authored a disturbing exposé, alleging the NTRO's passive interception capabilities were being misused for political purposes — and even activities closely resembling blackmail. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram denied such activities were taking place, although he has no supervisory power over the NTRO — but there has been no investigation.

    The fact is that the government has no real interest in rigorous oversight. The Intelligence Bureau, for example, has long been summoning call data records for individuals from service providers with no legal cause, allowing it to maintain a watch on behalf of the Union Home Ministry of contacts maintained among journalists, politicians, corporate figures, and government.

    In the absence of a full investigation into malpractices, and proper oversight, there is simply no way of knowing who might, and in what circumstances, have been targeted through passive interception means — and that's the whole problem.

    “When an officer on a salary of Rs.8,000 a month has pretty much unrestricted access to this kind of technology,” a senior Maharashtra Police officer admitted, “things will go wrong, and have gone wrong.”

    Earlier this year, Congress spokesperson and Member of Parliament, Manish Tewari, introduced a private member's bill that would enable Parliamentary oversight over the intelligence services — the worldwide pattern in democracies. “The advancement of communications interception warrants that a very robust legal architecture to protect the privacy of individuals needs to be put in place,” he says. “The intrusive power of the state has to be counter-balanced with the civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.”

    In his case, no one seems to have been listening.

    Ever-larger investments

    India is set to make ever-larger investments in these technologies, making the case for oversight ever more urgent. In 2014, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), aided by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is scheduled to launch India's first dedicated spy satellite, the Rs.100-crore communications intelligence satellite, tentatively named CCISat. Like similar systems operated by the United States, Russia, and Japan, among others, CCISat will suck up gigabites of electronic information from its orbital position 500 kilometres above the earth, passing it on to military supercomputers that will scan it for information of military and intelligence value.

    From the public sector giant, Bharat Electronics, India's principal electronics intelligence manufacturer, we know that CCISat is just a small part of the country's overall spy technology programme: in 2009-2010, it supplied some Rs.700 crore worth of electronic warfare equipment, and was scheduled to make deliveries worth Rs.900 crore in 2010-2011. Electronic warfare systems, both offensive and defensive, were reported to make up over half its order book of Rs.15,000 crore last year.

    Larsen & Toubro, as well as the Tatas' Strategic Electronics Division, have also expanded their capacities to meet an acquisitions drive that Indian military officials estimate will cost the country Rs.22,500 crore (about $4.5 billion) before the end of the decade.

    This may be money well spent: there can be little doubt that communication intelligence has contributed significantly to defending India. However, the failure to regulate the technology will have far-reaching consequences for our democracy — and could even mean its subversion.
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Bring in the LokPal! :scared2:
     
  6. Vyom

    Vyom Seeker Elite Member

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    Is it not the greatest indication of security threats from within the government itself that 2G spectrum was allowed to be sold to companies backed by our hostile neighbors, even in the light of the fact that they were banned by MoD for doing business in India?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  7. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Should be killed for treason. It is after all also legal sentence.
     
    Tshering22 likes this.
  8. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    ^^ That can happen only with the fall of this government. I don't believe in elections anymore. Democracy is farce and a sham just like Communism is.
     
  9. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Democracy is mob rule. India is a republic.
     
  10. lemontree

    lemontree Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    I always wonder, if our agencies ever make an effort to track down such people. It may sound a bit harsh, but the govt should confiscate the properties and freeze the finances of all the relatives of such traitors. All relatives of the wife and husband. Make examples, so that the fear is installed. Sooner or later one of the relatives will give our information on them. We Indians are very closely connected to our kith-n-kin and cannot stay separated from them for long.
     
  11. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I can't speak about the Govt, Ministers, IAS, IPS, RAW or any other organisations.

    But unlike them, IA has no hesitation to book its people, no matter what is the rank.

    A Principal Staff Officer Avdesh (no longer entitled to the rank Lt Gen (retd) has not only been booked, but has been cashiered i.e. no pension or any retirement benefits!

    Lt Gen Rath also comes to mind.

    Their fault - they Okayed the use of land that did not even fall under the jurisdiction of the army and was merely a security formality of no import.

    On even on such a reason that would give a clean chit to our other worthies in the governance and instruments of governance, Avadesh has been given the harshest of punishment feasible!

    So, the IA does not spare even those who have a whiff of blame!

    And the IA does not wait for public outcry to act!
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011

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