Security service in the dark over CIA flights
5 July 2006, BRUSSELS — The Belgian security service VS-SE has been condemned in a new report for having little knowledge of the activities of foreign intelligence services in Belgium.
5 July 2006
BRUSSELS — The Belgian security service VS-SE has been condemned in a new report for having little knowledge of the activities of foreign intelligence services in Belgium.
The harsh criticism came after the Senate completed its inquiries into secret CIA flights in Belgium. That inquiry was rounded off despite meeting resistance from the intelligence service and the military, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Wednesday.
The report — drawn up by the Senate commission that guides the Committee I, which in turn supervises the VS-SE — said the security service barely supervises the workings of foreign intelligence services in Belgium.
It said the VS-SE denied that the federal government had requested information about secret CIA flights and showed little interest in media reports about the issue despite the fact it could not deny it was responsible for such issues.
"Checking up on human rights violations is clearly a task of the security service," the report said.
The Defence Ministry was also criticised after Minister André Flahaut initially gave approval and then reneged on allowing the Senate commission to visit the Air Traffic Control Centre in Semmerzake (where the military keeps data over all flights in Belgium).
The report said the refusal raised questions about the willingness of the Defence Ministry to co-operate with the inquiry.
Uncertainty still exists over four suspicious, allegedly CIA flights that passed through Belgium and which have been subject to much speculation in recent months.
"We received no information about two flights at Zaventem and heard that the details of two other flights were 'confidential'," Christian Democrat CD&V Senator Hugo Vandenberghe said.
He said the inquiry into secret CIA flights in the war against terror exposes a "very serious problem". While the US claims it is fighting Islamic terrorism in co-operation with its allies, in reality, Europe is not given any information, Vandenberghe said.
The Senator called for legislation forcing supervision of foreign intelligence services in Belgium.
It comes after the federal government launched several inquiries last month over the CIA's monitoring of international financial transactions via the Brussels-based institute Swift.
Finance Minister Didier Reynders said at the time that it would be better if consultation between allies was improved.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news