Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Polish defence minister rebukes counterintelligence officers for posting photos on community portal

Poland’s Defence Minister, Bogdan Klich, has issued an order to launch disciplinary proceedings against six officers of the new military counter-intelligence service who have uploaded photos from a secret mission to Afghanistan onto their personal accounts at nasza-klasa.pl, the popular school reunion website, the Polish version of Friends Reunited. Polish Radio notes that the formal application was prepared by the Army Counter-Intelligence Service (SKW). Its head reprimanded the soldiers.

Although they did not specify they worked for the SKW they made clear that the photos were taken during a military mission in Afghanistan. The pictures, which showed them sporting local robes as well as uniforms, attracted appreciative comments from their former school mates. The personal details of SKW officers are a closely guarded secret and are not even known to many Polish soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. One of the tasks of the SKW is the counter-intelligence protection of Polish soldiers on missions abroad.
According to the Ministry of Defence, although the photographs and comments posted on the portal did not enable the identification of the soldiers, their conduct is nevertheless reprehensible.

The Gazeta Wyborcza has published some of the photos.

"By doing such a thing, these people endangered themselves, the soldiers and their families," Gazeta Wyborcza cites General Marek Dukaczewski, the last head of WSI, SKW's predecessor, adding: "I cannot imagine a secret operation carried out by people whose names and faces can be seen on the internet."

"I thought nothing could happen to heighten our sense of the chaos at the SKW. I was wrong," Pawel Gras, the former secret services minister, commented to the daily newspaper. SKW was established in 2006. Antoni Macierewicz, its first head, was criticized for hiring inexperienced people and dismissing seasoned former WSE officers.