Friday, July 15, 2011

Intelligence or what?

Could the Mumbai terror attack have been averted? Surely yes, if you ask me, if the government wanted it to be halted. (I assume here that our intelligence is clued into the nefarious activities going on - I could be wrong).

When I say, if the government wanted to halt it, I dont mean that the government sanctions the wanton slaughter of its citizens, even though on the face of it thats how it seems. But step into the shoes of an "intelligence officer" and think from his perspective. If you were in a job like his, like all human beings, you will act on the incentives that are given to you.

The last time the police had actionable intelligence which resulted in the death of an officer and a couple of terrorists - the entire set of people responsible for it have been hauled over the coals for it. (Remember it or forgot it already - in any case there is a wikipedia page for it) Clearly, proactiveness in intelligence is a CLM.

So, as an intelligence officer what would you do supposing you hear chatter about an upcoming terror attack - in general you would do nothing. Because if you did, the media and the civil society would come down on you with all their might and nobody wants to be on the receiving side of their wrath no, given that the government is on their side?

Therefore, in the current situation, no intelligence officer unless he is well provided for, will make the mistake of putting his family at stake - clearly the government is not incentivising the collection of intelligence and stopping an attack. On the other hand, if a bomb blast does happen, there is no loss of career nor any danger to anbody.

So, unless there is some form of incentive to stop terror attacks, these are likely to continue notwithstanding the pronouncements of the articulate and the savvy. On the other hand, your future prime minister has already said that terrorist attacks cannot be prevented. As a career savvy officer, this would be music to my ears and sounds like the direction of the incentive I mentioned...

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