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Private Spanish spooks

The government has changed the rules so that CNI intelligence agents can be employed by companies

There is nothing like keeping up a general barrage of objectionable actions if you want some of them to pass unnoticed, and this is the method being used by the government of Rajoy. A good number of infamies are happening every day that do not even make the news - particularly not the Spanish public television system, now subject to a censorship that is increasingly obvious.

Once I worked into a novel what sounds like fantasy but is a real fact: during the 1989-2001 lull in the spy business, the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, finding themselves a bit overstaffed, offered the use of their agents to private companies such as British Telecom, Allied Domecq and Cadbury-Schweppes; the rationale being that you did as much service to the country by spying for its big businesses as by protecting it from its enemies. When the story appeared in the news the director of MI5, Sir Stephen Lander, denied it, saying "that would be illegal." However it was anonymously confirmed by some business figures whom Lander had invited to a seminar, that he had offered them ways of obtaining privileged information on companies and individuals "if they requested it." The agents, then, would not be working for the Crown alone, but for two or more masters.

How am I to know who is giving orders to an agent and receiving benefits from his work?

Since there is hardly anything dangerous and objectionable out there that the PP does not imitate sooner or later, especially if it comes from the England of Thatcher (which never went away), on April 16 we heard the news, which passed practically unnoticed, that our Spanish spies, those of the National Intelligence Center (CNI), may now be on the payroll of private companies — not only Spanish, but also foreign ones. With the director's authorization they may be in the employ "paid or otherwise" of "organizations, entities or companies of the public or private sector, national or foreign." The CNI will go on paying their salaries in case the company begrudges them enough for a decent living and keep up their Social Security payments. Our agency's rules do forbid their belonging to unions or political parties, but now no longer forbid them from serving associations that "impose a discipline or obligatory lines of behavior that interfere with their duty of reserve." Thus, "in theory," concluded the report by Miguel González, "they might belong to a sect. Or even to Opus Dei."

The clear effect of these demented modifications is that we no longer know whom our spies are serving and that we cannot trust them or offer them any assistance, should the case arise. One always took it for granted that the police and the armed forces were exclusively at the service of the country, under any government. This partial privatization, or undisguised commercialization, leaves us blindfolded and haunted by suspicion and distrust. How am I to know who is giving orders to an agent and receiving benefits from his work — that is, who he is really working for? The CNI is keeping up his Social Security payments, but he could be working (this is all secret) for a public company in Russia, Saudi Arabia, China or Venezuela. Or for a multinational, such as the notorious Halliburton that made so much money out of the war in Iraq, thanks to its former executive and later Vice President Cheney, who started that war? Or indirectly for some foreign government under some cover? Or for a sect, indeed? Or for gangsters or drug traffickers? From now on everything is possible. This means that the CNI becomes even more obscure than it already was and that no honest Spanish person in his right mind can trust it or give it any help. Can you imagine what it would be like to harbor doubts about whose interests our soldiers and policemen are serving? Well, this is the situation we now have with our spies. We have our present government to thank for it, which seems to go around in search of outrages in order to commit them.

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