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My Article in Hindustan Times on Intelligence Cooperation with USA

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  • Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
    By Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad Published in Hindustan Times, Edit Page, Platform Slot, on Tuesday, 23 May 2006
    Message 1 of 1 , May 24, 2006
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      By Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      Published in Hindustan Times, Edit Page, Platform Slot, on Tuesday, 23
      May 2006

      http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1703816,00120002.htm

      Thanks, But No Thanks

      On US offer for tackling militancy in the North East, and intelligence
      cooperation with USA

      International Copyright, Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, May 2006
      Reproduction and forwarding strictly prohibited without prior permission
      International Publishing Rights in all media with Hindustan Times,
      http://www.hindustantimes.com
      Written and Submitted to Hindustan Times on Wednesday, May 17, 2006

      By Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
      CellPhone: {91}(0) 98 117 56789, {91}(0) 987 12 45678 Fax: (011)
      25 26 68 68
      2@... 2@... rp@...

      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Published in Hindustan Times, Edit Page, Platform Slot, on Tuesday, 23
      May 2006

      http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1703816,00120002.htm

      Thanks, But No Thanks

      Written and Submitted to Hindustan Times on Wednesday, May 17, 2006
      by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      Parliament should seriously debate the offer made in Agartala on
      Tuesday, 16 May 2006, by Henry V. Jardine, the US consul general in
      Kolkata, that the US would like to assist India in tackling militancy
      in the northeastern states. In October 2004, there was a political and
      diplomatic furore when US Ambassador to India David Campbell Mulford
      had offered the FBI's assistance in investigating bomb blasts in the
      northeastern states. Mulford had then written directly to the chief
      ministers of Assam and Nagaland: "The US has considerable expertise in
      investigative techniques in areas such as forensic analysis of
      explosive residues...The Federal Bureau of Investigation would be
      pleased to provide technical support for your investigation..." It is
      not known whether Jardine had the consent of the Ministry of External
      Affairs when he made the offer while speaking to reporters in Agartala
      on Tuesday.

      Indian and American intelligence agencies began cooperating in a
      limited way in the early 1950s on issues such as communist and
      secessionist activities in and around India. This intensified after
      the 1962 China War. US intelligence agencies have long been interested
      in the unstable and secession-prone northeastern states for several
      reasons. In addition to pursuing their own agenda of destabilizing
      India while ostensibly cooperating to fight communism, from the early
      1950s to the late 1970s, they used the northeastern region as a base
      for electronic and signal surveillance of Communist regimes of China,
      Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Their influence faded in the 1980s due to
      the degradation of their HUMINT (Human Intelligence) capabilities.

      While assessing Jardine's offer, the Indian government would do well
      to recall the guidelines which Ram Nath Kao, the founder of the
      Research and Analysis Wing, had formulated to govern cooperation with
      foreign intelligence agencies:

      * "Each and every instance of intelligence cooperation with a foreign
      country should be with the personal clearance of the prime minister,
      who should be kept constantly informed of all actions taken."

      * "All intelligence cooperation should be only through the Research
      and Analysis Wing, which would act as the nodal agency, maintain
      written records of all contacts with foreign intelligence agencies,
      and act as the interface between foreign intelligence agencies and
      Indian agencies needing their assistance."

      * "Foreign intelligence agencies should not be allowed to interact
      directly with any government department, agency or individual officer,
      bypassing the R&AW under the pretext of facilitating
      counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism cooperation."

      ....

      Following Kao's guidelines, R&AW maintained detailed records of all
      interactions with foreign intelligence agencies in one secure
      location, periodically reviewed the usefulness of the intelligence
      cooperation, and kept the prime minister continually informed.

      While intelligence cooperation with the US has intensified in recent
      months, India has had some unfortunate experiences with US
      intelligence agencies.

      Immediately after the Mumbai explosions of March 1993, India sought
      the assistance of experts from Austrian and US agencies for examining
      hand-grenades of Austrian origin and a chemical timer of US origin
      recovered from the blast sites.

      The Austrian experts examined the grenades at the blast sites itself.
      The Austrian government gave India a signed official report that these
      grenades had been manufactured in a Pakistani ordnance factory with
      technology and machine tools sold by an Austrian company to Pakistan's
      Defence Ministry. Austria also told India that it was free to use this
      report to build its evidence about the complicity of Pakistan's Inter
      Services Intelligence in the Mumbai blasts.

      But the US experts insisted that the chemical timer could be examined
      only in a particular specialized forensic laboratory in USA. They
      repeatedly insisted that Indian forensic laboratories lacked the
      necessary technology and equipment. Indian intelligence officials
      became suspicious because the US claims were excessively vehement, and
      were therefore reluctant to cede possession of the timer. Then senior
      functionaries of the US government gave their personal word of honour
      to their counterparts in the Indian government that the timer would be
      returned intact to India after examination, whereupon India permitted
      them to take it.

      After several weeks, they sent India an unsigned report which stated
      that the timer was indeed of US origin and was part of a consignment
      given by USA to Pakistan's ISI for being passed on to the Mujahideen
      during the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan in the early 1980s. But
      USA specified that India should not use this unsigned report for any
      purpose.

      India pointed out that this timer was the clinching incontrovertible
      evidence which it had been long seeking about ISI's sponsorship of
      terrorism in India.

      But the US officials retorted that there were widespread diversions or
      thefts of weapons from Pakistani Army arsenals to hundreds of arms
      dealers, and that Dawood Ibrahim and the other suspects in the Mumbai
      blasts "very probably obtained the timer from one of these hundreds of
      arms dealers without even one single ISI officer being aware of it."

      When the Indian officials asked the US officials to return the timer,
      the latter claimed that the timer had been "accidentally destroyed
      during testing by a young scientist."

      Several Indian intelligence officials were of the view that this timer
      was not of Afghan war vintage of the early 1980s but was made around
      1990-92, and would have exposed to India the close involvement of US
      agencies with ISI.

      In sharp contrast to this experience with USA was that of the
      cooperation India received from the West German government when Dubai
      captured the Khalistani hijackers of an Indian Airlines flight. The
      revolvers recovered from the Khalistani hijackers were of West German
      origin. India and Dubai sent these revolvers to Germany for forensic
      examination. The German government provided India a signed report that
      these revolvers were part of a consignment which a West German company
      had sold to Pakistan's Army.

      Like the Austrians, the German government told India that it was free
      to use this report to build its evidence about ISI's complicity in the
      Khalistan secessionist movement.

      Soon after the timer incident of 1993, Indian intelligence officials,
      under the orders of then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, provided
      USA a detailed dossier of Pakistan's involvement in terrorism in
      Kashmir and Punjab. India had then wanted USA to notify Pakistan as a
      state sponsor of terrorism.

      But the US officials refused to accept this dossier, stating that a
      large portion of the evidence collected by India was based on
      interrogation of captured militants: "We all know how your Indian
      police use torture to extract confessions."

      However, there also have been many happy instances of cooperation with
      the US intelligence agencies especially in areas such as email
      surveillance, interception of communications, digital forensics,
      decryption, cybercrime, money laundering, drug trafficking, and
      financial frauds. A dramatically successful joint operation was the
      capture of Aftab Ansari in United Arab Emirates for masterminding the
      attack on the American Centre in Kolkata. The FBI also assisted India
      in tracking down Abu Salem Ansari in Portugal.

      However, there is a growing feeling in Indian intelligence circles
      that India is providing far more information to USA in the War on
      Terror than it is receiving in return. India has provided USA with
      vast quantities of communications intercepts of terrorists in Pakistan
      and Afghanistan, as well as detailed photographs of terrorist training
      camps, but has not received information of commensurate value,
      although USA has provided some help in decryption and pattern recognition.

      Other areas where India is giving much more than it is receiving from
      USA are high-altitude warfare, jungle warfare, urban warfare, and
      close-combat warfare. It would be difficult for US forces to gain
      practical experience in these areas from any other country. US forces
      gained a great deal of valuable experience in high-altitude warfare
      during joint exercises conducted in Leh, and in jungle warfare at
      India's Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare Centre in Mizoram.

      While India should tap America's technological expertise in tackling
      militancy in the northeast, India should not allow US intelligence
      agencies to acquire significant contacts in that sensitive region, nor
      to develop long-lasting relationships with local security and police
      personnel. The interactions between local police personnel and the
      Americans should be strictly for specific objectives, and be under the
      direct supervision of the chief ministers of those states.

      by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      The author, an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon and IIT Kanpur, heads a
      group on C4ISRT (Command, Control, Communications and Computers
      Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targetting) in South Asia.

      =========================

      Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
      CellPhone: {91}(0) 98 117 56789, {91}(0) 987 12 45678 Fax: (011)
      25 26 68 68
      2@... 2@... rp@...

      Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
      19, Maitri Apts, CIS Off Society # 19
      A - 3, Paschim Vihar
      New Delhi 110 063
      CellPhone: 98 117 56789, 987 12 45678 Fax: (011) 25 26 68 68
      2@... 2@... rp@...


      By Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
      Published in Hindustan Times, Edit Page, Platform Slot, on Tuesday, 23
      May 2006
      http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1703816,00120002.htm

      Thanks, But No Thanks
      On US offer for tackling militancy in the North East, and intelligence
      cooperation with USA
      International Copyright, Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, May 2006
      Reproduction and forwarding strictly prohibited without prior permission
      International Publishing Rights in all media with Hindustan Times,
      http://www.hindustantimes.com

      By Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
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