Oversight of Security Archives

Constant Hijzen

In 1952 Jaap Burger, a member of parliament for the Dutch social democratic party, pressed the Dutch government to expand the parliamentary instruments to oversee and control the activities of the Dutch security service. Until then, the only opportunity to inquire into the doings of the secret service was when parliament discussed once a year the budgets of the respective ministries for the next year. The committee still exists today. Interestingly, however, perhaps more than some of the Dutch intelligence and security services, the parliamentary oversight committee has led a secret life. Although since 1967 they have been sending summaries of the minutes of their meetings to the rest of parliament, secrecy prevails. Parliamentary leaders refuse to comment and only once in a decade a journalist is able to dig something up. In our current research project, dr. Cees Wiebes and I try to unveil how this parliamentary oversight committee functions. By combining archival research outside the official sources and oral history, we are able to paint a telling picture of this particular instance of parliamentary oversight. In this paper, some observations from the Dutch case will be analyzed in the light of the historiography on oversight and control in the intelligence domain. Also the methods to do research will be reflected upon.

Karl Lorentz Kleve