Sunday, January 24, 2010



The following reply has been sent by me in response to a query from a journalist-reader of my articles:

Before 9/11, there was a counter-terrorism centre in the CIA, which had officers from various counter-terrorism agencies, who worked under a CIA Officer. This was part of the CIA because Director CIA was also Director Central Intelligence and in that capacity was responsible for co-ordination of all agencies of the intelligence community.The GC Saxena Task Force on intelligence revamp studied its working and recommended the creation of a similar counter-terrorism centre in the IB to consist of officers of various agencies and headed by an IB officer. The Government created it in the IB, but for reasons not clear to me called it a Multi-Agency Centre and not a counter-terrorism centre. It did not get going for a long time because of the reported reluctance of the R&AW and MI to depute their officers to work in the MAC under an IB officer. It has now got going since 26/11 in full steam.In 2004, the post of Director Central Intelligence was replaced by the post of Director, National Intelligence to coordinate. He is a member of the Presidential Executive Staff and works directly under the President. The NCTC was created as a separate organisation and placed under him. Director CIA, who is no longer responsible for co-ordination, has no control over it. The CIA continues to have its Counter-terrorism centre, but since 2004 it does not have a multi-agency role. Now the multi-agency responsibility is that of the NCTC under Director National Intelligence. All agencies have their own counter-terrorism divisions or centres, but their working is co-ordinated by the NCTC. The NCTC does not have an independent operational capability. It operates through different agencies. For example, if the NCTC decides that Drone strikes in the FATA must be stepped up, it is the CIA, which has the control of the Drone fleet, that will carry out the task. The NCTC by itself does not have a Drone capability. If the NCTC decides that there should be a covert ground attack against the Taliban or Al Qaeda in the FATA, it is the special forces of the Pentagon who will carry it out and not the NCTC, which has not been given any capability for covert action. ( 25-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )