Visiting the Dutch Intelligence Service

1 November 2013

Visiting the Dutch Intelligence Service

The most entertaining museum in the Netherlands is in the building which is the most difficult in the country to gain entry to: the headquarters of the main intelligence agency, the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) in Zoetermeer. In the basement the AIVD has preserved its finest trophies from the Cold War. Russian guns concealed in walking sticks, microfiches in coat-hangers, secret messages in the patterns on ladies’ shawls. I don’t know what our own service used; probably you can see these things in the basement at the offices of the former KGB.

Ronald van Raak (Member of Parliament)

Ronald van RaakYesterday I went on a visit to the AIVD, part of my enquiry into American eavesdropping. I can’t unfortunately say much about what I heard there, as it’s confidential. Whenever I visit I’m struck by the fact that the people who do this work are idealists. They do it for not much money out of conviction, the desire to contribute to our country’s security. And of course, because it’s exciting.

Our AIVD is extremely professional, but also very small. It’s always hard to say precisely what they know about US espionage and just how they may have been involved. It ‘s also not easy to get to the bottom of why the NSA has overstepped the mark so massively. Perhaps simply because it can, because nobody is resisting, because since 9/11 serious discussion of the actions of secret services has no longer be possible.

Yesterday, also, Edward Snowden let it be known that he was prepared to help European politicians who want to know more about the Americans’ activities and the motives underlying them. We can’t allow that offer to pass us by. I recently asked Home Affairs Minister Ronald Plasterk not to extradite Snowden, citing our national interest. Thus far the minister has refused to give such an undertaking. That’s why I will next week ask MPs to show their colours. Then we can organise a working visit to Russia. After the visit to the AIVD, let’s go and visit Edward Snowden.

You are here