IS IT possible that Jaswant Singh's mole letter is a forgery? In the world of spooks anything goes and forgeries are among the more harmless crimes of deception. And the best part is Singh may not even be aware of the letter's genuineness, or the lack of it.
Here is what the letter is about. It was written many years ago by a US embassy official in Delhi to a senator in America. And the official is merrily boasting of a mole in P.V. Narasimha Rao's PMO and his leaks to the Americans.
Serving and retired intelligence officials laugh at the audacity or immaturity of the embassy official. "You don't talk about moles and intelligence assets so brazenly," says one. The senator didn't have to know about the source of the information, and the official didn't have to give it to him.
Intelligence agencies are known to use forgeries to upset enemy plans, defame people or simply cause confusion. Erstwhile Soviet Union's erstwhile spy agency, the KGB, was extremely good at it -- its crowning glory being the lie that HIV/AIDS was spread by Americans (this story was apparently broken by an Indian newspaper — planted on it by the KGB — and was picked by sympathetic journals all over the world).
In another instance, again many years ago, a prominent Indian politician claimed that he had intercepted three telex messages which talked of the US's clandestine activities in India. The messages were found to be bogus.
Similarly, a Sangh ideologue who has been talking about two moles in the government had made some claims in the past which were also found to be dubious. But his fresh charge needs to be investigated. Also, not all Americans are as indiscreet as the purported author of Singh's mole-letter. Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state, confirmed to a HT journalist the presence of a mole in Indira Gandhi's cabinet whose tip to the Americans brought the Seventh Fleet sailing into the Indian Ocean.
But would the seasoned diplomat give away the name? Oh well, the CIA never gave him the name. But the same Amercians thought nothing of naming a high-ranking mole in the PMO?
But here's the most delicious of intelligence twists: The mole could be genuine, but not the letter. The mole has been talked of by other people too — by former spymaster Keki Daruwalla, for one. But the letter? If and when Jaswant decides to part with the letter, it won't be a bad idea to put it through a test.