Twenty-sixth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000 12:28:22 +0200)

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Intelligence profile: Portugal

In the 1940s the secret police, called the International Police for the Defense of the State (Policia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado - PIDE), although under jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, was in fact controlled directly by Salazar. Under revisions of the law after 1954, PIDE officers were entitled to act as inquiring magistrates empowered to detain for trial persons suspected of crimes against the state. Suspects were routinely arrested without warrants and often held for months without specific charges brought against them and without access to legal assistance. Disappearance and torture were commonplace. Agents of PIDE carried out covert operations within communist organizations, the government-run labor unions, the armed forces, the universities, and the Portuguese emigrate communities abroad. During the 1960s and 1970s, PIDE directed its efforts to suppressing opposition to the war effort in the African colonies, particularly on university campuses, and to tracking down anti-regime terrorists responsible for bombing military and strategic installations.

Although PIDE was renamed the General Security Directorate (Direccao Geral de Seguranca--DGS) by Marcello Caetano's government, it retained its old image. The abhorrence felt for it was so strong that it was abolished in Portugal the day after the Caetano regime was toppled. Abuses by the security apparatus were subsequently reported in detail in the Portuguese press, causing even more revulsion among the public. The lingering specter of PIDE and DGS as pillars of the authoritarian regime in the memory of the Portuguese people delayed the establishment of a new civilian intelligence agency for more than a decade. Following an Armenian terrorist attack on the Embassy of Turkey in 1983, the assassination of a Palestine Liberation Organization representative at a Socialist International conference the same year, and a number of domestic terrorist attacks, the Portuguese government became convinced of the need for a new intelligence agency. In 1984, the Intelligence System of the Republic of Portugal (Sistema de Informacoes da Republica Portuguesa -SIRP) was established in 1986. SIRP was intended to be the parent body for three separate intelligence services: the Security Intelligence Service (Servico de Informacoes e Seguranca -SIS), the Military Intelligence Service (Servico de Informacoes Militares \SIM), and the Defense Strategic Intelligence Service (Servico de Informacoes Estrategicas de Defesa -SIED).

Sistema de Informacoes da Republica Portuguesa [SIRP]
(Intelligence System of the Portugese Republic)

The intelligence system of the Portuguese Republic is regulated under Law 30/84 of 5 September 1984. The legal frame of the SIRP attributes the responsibility to the information services to ensure, respecting the law and the Constitution, the production of intelligence necessary to safeguard national independence and guarantee internal security.

The SIRP is fed by information collected by two services with differing functions:

The SIS is an organization charged with the production of intelligence that contributes to the safeguarding of internal security, prevention of sabotage terrorism, espionage and practices which, by their nature, could alter or destroy the constitutionally established state.

SIEDM is an organization charged with the production of intelligence that contributes to the safeguarding of national independence, national interests, the external security of the Portuguese State, and in the execution of the missions of the Armed Forces and for military security.

Both SIS and SIEDM fall under the Prime Minister:

The legal frame of the SIRP defines the organic structure of the Intelligence System of The Portuguese Republic.

This organic structure is articulated in the following manner:


The undertaken activities of the SIRP obey various principles:


AR - Assembleia da Republica
(Republican Assembly)
MDN - Ministro da Defesa Nacional
(Minister of National Defence)
EMGFA - Estado-Maior-General das Forcas Armadas
(General Staff of the Armed Forces)
CFSI - Conselho de Fiscalizacao dos Servicos de Informacoes
(Council of Legalization of the Intelligence Services; Inspector General)
PGR - Procuradoria-Geral da Republica
(Attorney General of the Republic)
DIMIL - Divisao de Informacoes Militares
(Military Intelligence Divisions)
CFCD - Comissao de Fiscalizacoes
(Legal Oversight Committee)
SIEDM - Servico de Informacoes Estrategicas de Defesa e dos Centros de Dados
(Military Strategic Defence and Military Intelligence Service)
PM - Primeiro-Ministro
(Prime Minister)
MAI - Ministerio da Administracao Interna
(Ministry of Internal Administration)
CSI - Conselho Superior de Informacoes
(Superior Intelligence Council)
SIS - Servico de Informacoes de Seguranca
(Security Intelligence Services)
CT - Comissao Tecnica
(Technical Committee)
CA - Conselho Administrativo
(Administrative Council)
DG - Director-Geral
(Director General)
SAAG - Servico Administrativo e de Apoio Geral
(Administrative General Support Service)
CC - Conselho Consultivo
(Consultative Council)
SI - Servico de Informatica
(Information Service)
SO - Servicos Operacionais
(Operational Services)
DGA - Director-Geral Adjunto
(Adjunct Director General)
DR - Delegacoes Regionais
(Regional Delegations)

Serviço de Informacoes de Seguranca [SIS]
(Security Information Service)

The SIS was created in 1984 under the frame of SIRP. One year later, in 1985, the law decree 225/85 of 4 July approved the Organization of the SIS.

The SIS is a public service, dependent on the Prime Minister by way of the Ministry of Internal Administration, and integrated in the SIRP. The frame of the SIRP, or SIS, is the only organization charged with the production of information (intelligence).

The SIS enjoys administrative and financial autonomy and is located in Lisbon. There could be other created delegations of the SIS in other points of the country. In actuality, the SIS has delegations in Porto, Ponta Delgada, Funchal and Faro. In the environment of its specific attributes, the SIS has the authority to proceed in a systematic and precise manner, in the analysis, production and storage of intelligence.

From a territorial point of view, this authority coïncides with that of the sovereign powers of the Portuguese State.

All Public Administration Services, central, regional and local, and institutes and public businesses and concessions are obligated to give their cooperation to the SIS. A special obligation to collaborate is imposed upon the security forces and services as set forth in the law of Internal Security.

The SIS, in turn must:

The SIS can cooperate with partner foreign organizations under the frame of international treaties assumed by the Portuguese State and within the limits of its specific attributes. This cooperation is subject to the Prime Minister's guidance, through the superior council of Intelligence. The activities of the SIS are considered, in all its effects, classified in the interest of the Internal Security of the State.

[sources: US Library of Congress and the website of the Portuguese MOI]

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