The first overall legal study of PET
Many foreign intelligence agencies are divided into both a security and an intelligence department. And Denmark would also benefit from adopting this division. Such is the conclusion of a new PhD dissertation from School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, which constitutes the first overall legal study of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET).
Emil Bock Greve from the Department of Law at School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, who recently earned his PhD degree, is behind the first overall legal study of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET). He has conducted a legal examination of PET and the control body in charge of supervising PET following the implementation of the two so-called anti-terror packages in 2002 and 2006 respectively.
In his dissertation, Emil Bock Greve establishes, among other things, that the provisions of the PET law governing many of PET’s activities have been too vague and elastic. This means that it is more difficult to regularly monitor and control PET’s activities, and there are severe legal problems surrounding the agency’s collaboration with foreign intelligence agencies.
Conflict of interest
Emil Bock Greve claims that, generally speaking, it would be advantageous to divide PET into two: an intelligence agency with a broad scope and a more narrow security organisation. In many countries, intelligence and security activities are not handled by the same authority, and there is good reason for that, says Emil Bock Greve.
The commingling of intelligence and security activities within one agency often leads to practical and principled difficulties, because in many instances there will be a conflict of interest between the two types of activities. For instance, all security measures involve a risk that sources of information will disappear or be curtailed, whereby the opportunities for carrying out intelligence activities are limited.
Moreover, the intermingling of security and intelligence activities also involves a risk of power abuse and violation of civil rights. For instance, it is unclear how intimate PET are allowed to become with people; whether a PET agent is allowed to become romantically involved with someone under surveillance, which we have seen examples of in other countries.
Supervision of PET is largely ineffective
Emil Bock Greve also underlines that throughout the last fifty years, no control body has pinpointed the objectionable conditions in PET. This suggests that the control bodies are not properly organised or do not have the required authority to suggest and point attention to the objectionable conditions or activities carried out by PET. He is excited to see whether the most recent control body will be given more authority than earlier. Supervision is necessary, because there are several instances in which PET have not been on their best behaviour.
Emil Bock Greve defended his PhD dissertation at School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University on 24 January 2014.
PhD student Emil Greve
Department of Law, School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University