Museveni wants spy agencies overhauled

Monday July 15 2013

President Museveni

President Museveni 

By Tabu Butagira

KAMPALA- The government has commenced a comprehensive review of the operations of secret security organisations amid reports of huge intelligence failure, and in some instances collusion, preventing detection of suspected internal subversive activities.

It has emerged that heads of the various intelligence outfits are also up for a major shakeup once the re-evaluation exercise, in which it has been proposed to merge some activities and overall command of the Internal and External security organisations, is completed in weeks.

Gen Museveni, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, ordered for the appraisal and re-organisation during a meeting on June 19, according to highly-placed sources.

The directive follows the arrest of dozens of soldiers - some from 2 Tank Battle Group of the Special Forces - over alleged links to spymaster Gen David Sejusa, originally Tinyefuza, and links to subversive activities.

The general flew out of the country in April but publication of a leaked letter in which he called for investigation into allegations of a plot to kill top State officials opposed to a suspected plan by the President to have his son succeed him, sparked uproar. 

Gen Sejusa, a historical of the guerrilla war that brought the President to power 27 years ago, told the BBC in a June 18 interview that Mr Museveni has no right to rule Ugandans “forever” and declared it is time to remove him by “all means” necessary.

President Museveni was reportedly incensed that intelligence operatives failed to notice the manner and extent of the run-away general’s covert activities, especially within security circles, allowing him to dupe unsuspecting authorities to approve his trip abroad.

This newspaper understands that an ad hoc committee chaired by Security Minister Muruli Mukasa, and comprising members from both the domestic and foreign spy agencies, began work on President Museveni’s directive on July 5.

Other members include Internal Security Organisation (ISO) deputy director-general Don Mugiba, his subordinates; Tom Magambo (political affairs) and Jackson Kakuru (operations) while External Security Organisation (ESO) seconded George Byenkya Musiita, Herman Nsubuga, Damalie Kironde, Francis Wanyenya and Jack Kusu, among other officers, to represent it on the team.

They have up to the end of this month to present a detailed report with proposals on how to re-configure State intelligence, gathering whose failure, sources say, is threatening national security.

Minister Mukasa last evening confirmed plans to re-organise the structures and re-align the roles of intelligence-gathering institutions, but said it will be “nothing far more radical”.

“Yes, there is a review going on and it is normal because security situations and challenges never remain the same,” he said, “So, we have to respond in a timely manner. It is an arrangement to serve our strategic interests best.”

Because the two major intelligence agencies were founded 26 years ago, the evolving complex security challenges and technological advances have dictated streamlining of their operations, financing, headship capabilities and related legislation.

The Daily Monitor has learnt that the ad hoc committee is examining the Security Organisations Act – the 1987 law that established the Internal and External security organisations – as well as the National Security Council Act 2000 to identify conflicting or out-of-date provisions for amendment, revise job descriptions and recommend a new command structure to refine intelligence streaming and analysis.  

Once the review is completed, Minister Mukasa has been tasked to prepare a Cabinet paper detailing necessary changes to the laws governing the secret security organs and their operations, for consideration by Parliament.

Insiders say unprincipled competition and rivalry has compromised the efficiency of these State spy institutions, resulting in duplication/resource wastage marked by multiple investigations and filing of often contradicting reports and back-stabbing by operatives, which confuses and polarises national security decision-makers. It is understood these flaws have previously resulted in misjudgment or questionable decisions by commanders, including the President.

In yesterday’s interview, the Security minister said they want to rationalise operations of the spy organisations and the number-cum-manner in which the President gets intelligence briefings.

Presently, operational intelligence issues are handled through the Joint Intelligence Committee while policy issues and related top decisions are taken by the National Security Council chaired by the Internal Affairs Minister.

SECRET STATE SECURITY AGENCIES

The Internal Security Organisations (ISO), which is currently headed by Ronnie Balya and the External Security Organisation (ESO) headed by Robert Masolo, were established by the 1987 Security Organistions Act.

Their core functions are to receive and process internal and external intelligence data on Uganda’s security and advise/recommend to the President or on his instructions, any other authority, proactive security action plan. However, the state runs counter-Intelligence operations to evaluate the veracity of intelligence received from designated organs. Uganda has other under-cover security outfits, including the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, that also gather tailored intelligence.

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