Colombia, Latin America: Week in Review

Colombia Disbands Intelligence Agency Following Scandals

November 1, 2011 By Staff

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the official end of his country’s scandal-ridden intelligence service Monday. The announcement does not come as a surprise, given that Santos had already said he would replace the agency, but it marks the official end of the controversial Administrative Department of Security (DAS) — an institution whose numerous scandals in recent years caused political problems for the outgoing administration of Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010).

Jorge Noguera, the first head of the DAS under Uribe, was convicted last month of collusion in the 2004 murder of a leftist university professor. Uribe’s former chief of staff Bernardo Moreno awaits trial for allegedly ordering the DAS to spy illegally on political opponents, Supreme Court justices, journalists and human rights workers. Another DAS director under Uribe, María del Pilar Hurtado, secured political asylum in Panama to avoid facing charges similar to Moreno’s.

When it became apparent the Colombian government would shut down the DAS, some of the agency’s employees began selling the agency’s classified documents, leading to the greatest intelligence leak in the country’s history, according to Colombian magazine Semana. While fear of unemployment reportedly prompted the leak, Santos said Monday that the 6,000 DAS employees would move to other ministries, with about half joining the federal prosecutor’s office. In his speech, Santos sought to boost the reputations of DAS employees. “A lot of people in the DAS have been stigmatized, unjustly I would say,” Santos said. “So many law-abiding people shouldn’t pay for a few sinners.”

Read more from the Associated Press and learn about the DAS’ background in this piece from the Latin America News Dispatch.

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Image: Center for American Progess @ Flickr.

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