Monday, March 29, 1999

New intelligence body will be service oriented


Investigative editor

The new-look National Security Intelligence Service is poised to reform Kenya's secret information gathering style.

The outfit is envisaged to be entirely different from the police and the army.

It will start its operations in the new financial year when Parliament approves its funding and key posts are filled.

The former Directorate of Security Intelligence [Special Branch] changed on the enactment of a Bill last December.

One of the prime objectives of the NSIS is to change the operation style of the intelligence sub-sector from coercion to service provision. The organisation will concentrate on issues that may adversely affect the country such as economy failure, corruption, terrorism, narcotics trade, the military, security monitoring and fundamentalism, among others. Hitherto, the officers dwelled on politics.

All members of staff of the former Special Branch wishing to join the new group are required to apply afresh for desired posts. However, this will not apply to the Director General, Brig (rtd) Wilson Boinett.

Brig Boinett will be in charge of all intelligence gathering, including internal, external and strategic intelligence.

He will also be the President's principal advisor on matters relating to national security.

Only 80 per cent of the former Special Branch team may be absorbed in the NSIS. The remaining 20 per cent vacancies would be open to civil servants, members of the public and armed forces.

The organisation has been divided into seven sections each headed by a director - administration, information technology; economic affairs, operations, external intelligence, internal intelligence, and the director of the National Intelligence Academy, being built near the Windsor Golf and Country Hotel.

There will be 17 assistant directors for administration; information technology, economic affairs, National Intelligence Academy, operations, external intelligence, internal intelligence; Nairobi area, Coast, Eastern, North Eastern, Central, North Rift, South Rift, Nyanza and Western.

Last month, the government appointed a committee headed by former permanent representative to the Habitat, Mrs Pamela Mboya, to formulate a scheme of service for NSIS officers.

The Director-General, like judges of the High Court and the Attorney-General, has a security of tenure, which gives him independence to operate without undue influence from the Executive.

The NSIS will deviate from the past, when it was an arm of the police force with the powers for arrest and prosecution. Its major function will be advisory and monitoring of politics, the economy and security.

The establishment's officers are expected to be highly proficient and credible. Their capabilities should be above board, should be reliable and readily available.

They will not necessarily be members of the provincial or district security committees, will not be expected to carry arms unless under special arrangements, nor will they have any arresting duties, powers or assignments.

The NSIS will focus on matters of national interests such as the country's investments, the industry and information technology.

Instead of focusing and reporting on individuals' activities and operations, the officers would be expected to dwell on and file reports on issues of national import.

With that kind of philosophical and operational framework, the NSIS can be trusted to be accountable.

A new code of ethics and conduct has been formulated for the officers. One of the basic requirements for the new staff is to declare their properties. The officers are barred from engaging in private businesses.

The NSIS, therefore, becomes the first public organisation to denounce the Ndegwa Commission, which allowed civil servants to engage in private business.

Another crucial requirement is that the officers should not support political parties or provide logistical support to groups affiliated to any political parties. This requirement is cardinal considering that officers of the former Special Branch were openly partisan.

While Special Branch officers were known to torture suspects to extract information from them, the NSIS is prohibited from the use of force or coercion in their course of work.

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