Saturday, December 6, 2008

Chidambaram admits intel failure, NSA may go

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: Home minister P Chidambaram's admission on Friday in Mumbai that there were intelligence and security "lapses" leading up to
the Mumbai attacks has triggered a lot of
speculation over the possibility of a top-level shake-up in India's intelligence
brass. (



agree there has been a failure on the part of security forces...undoubtedly
there had been some lapses. I will be less than truthful if I say there were no
lapses," the new home minister said.

The remark coincides with a
growing feeling among Congressmen that while political heads have rolled,
bureaucrats directly tasked with the job of fighting terror have been spared. An
influential section in Congress is lobbying for the removal of national security
advisor M K Narayanan despite indications that Prime Minister Mannmohan Singh is
reluctant to let him go.

At a briefing at the Maharashtra police
headquarters, Chidambaram also tried to calm the nerves of the terror-struck
city. "I am sorry Mumbai...I will try to improve effectiveness of security
systems and address all problems concerned. I will strain every nerve to
overcome the causes of these lapses."

In what could be a step in that
direction, Chidambaram will be attending a meeting on security at PMO on
Saturday where Narayanan will be present. On the table will be issues like a
Federal Investigative Agency, a media management plan during a terrorism crisis
and proposals to beef up coastal and river security.

confession of lapses, the first by a senior figure in government, will bring the
spotlight squarely on intelligence agencies which, faced with charges of
failure, have been engaged in a fierce blame game since the November 26 attacks.
After leaks, attributed to Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), about "tip offs" of
a LeT plot being ignored, there has been a flurry of denials.

attacks on the NSA seem to have damaged his standing with Congress chief Sonia
Gandhi who brought Narayanan back from retirement. But he seems to continue to
enjoy the PM's support. This is possibly because any determination of his
failure would be a reflection on the PMO itself — the same reason which
led former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to reject RSS's demand to dump his principal
secretary Brajesh Mishra.

It is not clear whether the PMO will also
stand by IB chief P C Haldar and RAW secretary Ashok Chaturvedi. There is a view
that despite the fact that both Chaturvedi and Haldar due retire at the end of
this month, there should be immediate changes to signal the government is
cracking the whip.

In Mumbai, asked of Pakistan's role in the Mumbai
carnage, Chidambaram stated there was ample evidence to "link the attack to
organisations or entities which have been responsible for terror attacks in the
past." Refusing to name any outfit — Lashkar-e-Taiba is seen as the main
suspect — Chidambaram said, "It would not be correct to name any
organisation but you can draw conclusions."

Source :