first we don't need all these articles in the press about our secret service because two clans are fighting for survival (the actual director) or for renewal (those who want to replace him). It undermines the confidence in the secret service. Confidence in a secret service is having confidence that you are keeping things .... secret.
secondly those articles undermind the confidence because during those times of anxiety and paranoia and the top from the secret service (and going down to all the levels beneath it) people ara making amateuristic mistakes that undermine the image of professionalism of many who work there (I don't know anybody there and if I would I wouldn't tell you :)
there are many professional people working in a professional way over there trying to get things done - or prevented - within the limited legal and material framework they have. We didn't have many terrorist attacks in Belgium or Brussels the last decennium to give one example
so if someone thinks he or she can win something by undermining confidence in the service to be much more able to retake the castle, that person or clan may find the castle burning or burnt-out when they finally enter and it will take years to restore a confidential relationship with sources and colleague-services inside and outside the country.
Everybody working with secrets tends to become paranoid in keeping those secrets secret and will rather not share it - even if there are a thousand reasons to do so - if the risk of having it become public too soon is too great.
Over time, all secrets will become public, but it is the timing that is important. A secret can become public when it is of more use when it is public or because the problem has been resolved.
Maybe all those journalists, ex and present workers at the secret service and politicians should end their tunnelvision of the secret service and look at the big picture.
The big picture is brussels. No capital in the world - even Washington - has more embassasies and international organisations and lobbyists than Brussels. It will also have the most spies, influence brokers and representatives of radical organisations or dissident groups of every country in the world who may become the next leaders. Nowhere else are there so many people, organisations and institutions to follow and to protect as in Brussels.
The bigger picture is belgium. THis is the country where Shape (US forces in Europe) is located and uses it bases for international operations. This is the country where the NATO has its headquarters. This is the country where there might be nuclear missiles. THis is a country with nuclear energy, one of the biggest ports in Europe with a big petrochemical industry and which of its geography has always been an ideal place as 'resting place' for gangsters and terrorists (in maximum 2 hours you can go to 4 countries from anywhere in Belgium).
So we need a transparant secret service which is modern, digitalized and present on the terrain and can give anonymous general information and can be the spearpointing specific preventive and informative operations. In France they are now intervening from the moment they see that people go from selfradicalisation to selfpreparations for an attack or to go to fight elsewhere in the world. They don't wait untill the bombs explode. This means that the infiltration of all those extremist groups is becoming much more important (even if manipulation (even to proof your commitment) is always lurking behind the corner).
Only in a transparant organisation with a clear mission one can have enough confidence to let it work as it should work. In secret.
After reading the story in De Morgen this weekend about how a shadowy Canadian businessman sponsered an anti islamic conference with dangerous intellectual hatemongering nuts who inspired another nut to kill people on an island (after which the inititiave disappeard into 'nothing') in the parliament of the Flemish Region hosted by our extreme right party here (of which their contact also says that members of this party in Brussels were looking for real weapons and had contact with the neonazi group BBET (made up of paramilitary) that was arrested before they could do something with their arsenal of weapons) than I am glad that there is still a secret service out there and that there are dedicated people doing the work they should do (protect us by preventing ugly things to happen).
We are also from the generation that has known 'the plomb years' in which we had (a manipulated) communist terrorgroup CCC, links between facist groups (FNJ) and respectable parties and organisations even if they were responsable for firebombing leftwing media and for street fights and attacks, the neonazi WNP of which the last word hasn't been said (only that they have infilttrated into the NATO headquarters) and so on.....
this kind of secret service we don't want to see returning and this kind of 'strategy of fear and tension' our democracy doesn't need now, especially during this economic and financial crisis
and to be sure we need a democratic professional transparant secret service to make this 'never again'
not a service of which we learn every day another version about how and when and what they communicated with their informant Debie in the extreme rightwing party Vlaams Belang (to the astonishment of many)
one thought, even if I dislike about everything about Debie, I feel somewhat sorry for the life he will have or not have after his 'outing" right now. He will never be trusted again, he will have some enemies forever (over the whole world in fact by uncovering the conference). He will have stress, anxiety and his problems will only have really started from now on. If he was an agent or informer, the state should look after him (even if he has a problem with the actual director of the secret service) because he did what he had to do. Inform our services that some millionaire was trying to manipulate European opinion and setting groups of people up against each other - whatever the consequences (untill they effectively saw the possible consequences). He should be rewarded for that - like any other informer in any other country.
This is also necessary as a principle for a secret or police service to keep its credibility (whatever you think of the informer as a person). People who come with information should feel that if you could do something with that information, that when they have taken personal and professional risks and they have worked within the legal bounderies and agreements, they should be protected and looked after if that gets them into problems.
How the hell would you want other informers and contacts to come forward ? Pay them like Stratfor did ?
The information itself is always more important than the person but to get the information you must always work on the persons. Those who have informed you and those that you would like to get information from (if you can't intercept or hack it). And for that you need credibility. And that you earn or lose every day.
So would everybody start shutting up and discussing this matter where it should be discussed - after closed doors and without any leaking afterwards :) so everybody can get back ot its job
by the way .... who will and can audit a secret service without being a security danger ? And what can you audit ? Is there a special consultancy firm that audits secret services all over the world (get a mole in there) ? This is also a laughable and dangerous idea. I suppose there are enough intelligent people inside the organisation who - if they could speak totally anonymously - can propose enough ideas to consider - before introducing this new securityrisk into your organisation (and its credibility)
one last thing - I think that just as with the CIA and other democratic secret services - our secret service should publish much more historic information (and this they can protect sources) and that yes our generation (nearing 50) has the right to know what happened in the 80-90's when Belgium was destabilized by WNP, Bende Van Nijvel and CCC (not the parts of the files that some journalists have seen or assembled from inidividual leaks). More historical would be of course the 60's, the schoolwar, the decolonisation of Congo and so on....
because to have credibility you have also to show that at critical times in our history your analysts were right, even when nobody at that time was ready to listen and your agents were able with their information to prevent more bloodshed and a deepening of the crisis.