Over the past week a good deal of attention has been paid to the uneasy situation regarding intelligence agencies in the United States. With the sudden and unexplained "resignation" of CIA director Porter Goss, a number of questions have been raised regarding the degree to which the departing director and his loyal staff have been involved in a sordid corruption scandal, the effect of a reorganisation of intelligence services on the independence of the CIA from political interference by the party in power, and the ambitions of the Department of Defense to exert control over intelligence activities. The uncertainty was not eased when the president put forward his nominee to succeed Goss: an active-duty military officer who has had a leading role in the administration's controversial (and apparently illegal) domestic surveillance projects. On all these themes, see the ongoing reporting by Laura Rozen.

And what of intelligence agencies in Serbia? Dejan Anastasijević has an overview in this week's Vreme. The latest accusations being put before them relate to the ongoing failure to arrest or locate Ratko Mladić, though this is hardly the full extent of it. At bottom, critics are continuing to raise the question of whether the intelligence services are under the control of the government and whether they work for the interests of the state. And what services are these? Serbia has five intelligence services, reporting to different officials and agencies. These are:
  • Bezbednosno informativna agencija (BIA -- Security Information Agency): Headed by Rade Bulatović. Reports to the prime minister.
  • Vojno-bezbednosna agencija (VBA -- Military Security Agency): Headed by Svetko Kovač. Reports to the minister of defence.
  • Vojno-obaveštajna agencija (VOA -- Military Intelligence Agency): Headed by Veselin Milović. Reports to the minister of defence.
  • Služba za istraživanje dokumentacije (SID -- Service for Research of Documentation): Headed by Ljubomir Milić. Reports to the minister of foreign affairs.
  • Služba bezbednosti MIP-a (SBMIP -- Security Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs): Headed by Mirko Tomčić. Reports to the minister of foreign affairs.
So: five intelligence agencies, reporting to three civilian officials (to be fair, only the first three have a very broad scope of activity). And how is their work coordinated? Simple: it is not. This may account for some of the failures of the services that Anastasjević lists in his article. On the other hand, some of the failures may be attributed to a bizarre inheritance from the previous position of intelligence agencies in the Communist period, when they were extraordinarily privileged and closely tied to the party in power. Now the intelligence agencies no longer tie their function to the maintenance of a monopoly of power by a party, but more to maintaining their own. The questions raised by their role in the Mladić case (have they stopped protecting him? are they trying to find him?) highlight the extent to which these agencies have remained powerful islands resistant to civilian control.

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