Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Rajoy creates 'Homeland Security' department amidst crisis

No Freedom of Information Law in Spain
SPAIN In imitation of the US's Department of Homeland Security, and stealthily hidden among the flurry of items on the excruciating European financial crisis as well as a 'quiet' summer holiday period, Premier Mariano Rajoy has started the procedures to create a Department of National Security, according to Royal Decree of January 13 and published not long ago in the official state bulletin (B.O.E., Boletín Oficial del Estado). The bulletin says (translated), "Under the organic and functional dependence of the Adjunct Director of the Cabinet" (the approximate equivalent of the US's National Security Advisor or Director),"  the Department of National Security "is the agency that will give the Presidency permanent advice and technical support in matters of National Security." We offer an insight into the way it might function:>>>PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOU WILL SOON BE UNABLE TO FINISH READING ITEMS SUCH AS THIS OTHER THAN BY SUBSCRIPTION. Subscription information will be available in the near future.>>>

In the US, the Department of Homeland Security, known as Homeland Security, is a Government Ministry charged with protecting the national territory from terrorist attack and to respond to national emergencies. It was created from 24 existing federal agencies in response to 9-11. The difference between the US's Department of Defence is that it deals with threats from outside the territory, while Homeland works both inside and outside it. Homeland employs some 184,000 people whose function is to prevent national emergencies, especially terrorism.

The Spanish version of Homeland Security, which is to be under a Departmental nomenclature, but under the Ministry of the Presidency, not of Interior, will have the following functions:
  1. It will be the Presidency of Government's permanent agency of counsel and technical support in matters of National Security.
  2. Under the aegis of the Subdirector General of the Department of National Security, the position is created of the Executive Director of the Department of National Security.
  3. The Department of National Security will have the following functions:
      a. To contribute towards the creation, establishment, implantation and follow-up of directives and integration of those plans that are developed in matters of national security.

         b. To contribute towards proposals, studies, analysis and reports on National Security, as well as to the divulging of information that may be of interest on this subject, without regard of the functions that may be the responsibility of other agencies.

       c. To study and propose, as needs arise, the necessary regulations or laws that emerge from the National System of Crisis Management, as well as to programme and coordinate the execution of said regulations or laws should the need arise.

          d. To support those agencies of the National System of Crisis Management, taking on the functions of a Government Commission for Crisis Situations and of any other functions as deemed necessary by the President of the Government.

       e. To maintain and ensure the continuing and continual functions of the National Centre for Crisis Management, and communications of the Presidency, and to protect its documentation.

No Freedom of Information laws in Spain
Details of this new department will probably not be available easily, if the past is anything to go by, and given that there is no Freedom of Information Act (of any consequence) in Spain (see our item here). However, the parallels with the US's Homeland Security system could be construed as alarming, within the context of freedom of movement guaranteed by the European Union, as well as freedom of expression guaranteed by the Spanish Constitution.

If Homeland US is anything to go by -and it it looks as though it might well be- the regulations and laws the Spanish version is supposed to be creating and supporting, could very easily be used against illegal immigration, drug dealing and a host of other 'bad things' that might arise to get in the way of peaceful existence.

The question is: at what cost?

While no-one would disagree -except perhaps the perpetrators themselves- that getting a drug dealer off the streets is no bad thing, a little common sense might elicit the idea that keeping someone in jail for years before trial does not guarantee anything at all, other than the possibility of a mistake being made.

And in terms of what the new department might perceive as its function in any given situation, another look at the last sentence in b. above: "...without regard of the functions that may be the responsibility of other agencies." In other, more plain words, Spanish Homeland 'regulations and laws' may supersede any other government department, agency or whatever - presumably including the Judiciary, which is ostensibly separate from the Executive but which we know is highly politicised.

And talking about politics, it can be assumed that by its very nature and the fact that it is being created by the PP, somewhat to the Right of Centre, the Spanish Department of National Security will be heavily populated by those chosen by its creators. That, of course, is a possible definition of imbalance.

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