Spies licensed to spy, governments licensed to tell almost nothing

Spies licensed to spy, governments licensed to tell almost nothing

The deputies who attended Pedro Sánchez's appearance on the Pegasus espionage scandal had the opportunity to hear Santiago Abascal's assessment of his sexual life, but not much about what the CNI did and with what technological instruments. These parliamentary events do not always live up to expectations. Sometimes, these are very low, as was the case in the debate on Thursday, and even then they are not fulfilled. Pedro Sánchez committed himself to a reform of the official secrets law that was drafted in 1968. It seems that he had not had sufficient incentives until now to face this pending task.

There is a project presented a few months ago by the PNV that has been frozen in the bureaucratic labyrinths of Congress, and it is not the first attempt that has not prospered due to the disinterest of the PSOE and the PP. It is obligatory to be skeptical on account of the possibilities that the reform goes ahead in this legislature.

One way to gauge Sánchez's interest in talking about the subject is that it took him almost twenty minutes to start getting down to business. He dedicated them to criticizing the PP for different cases of corruption. He even remembered the recent offer of public employment approved by the Government. He seemed like he was even going to talk about black holes before spies. He would have made more sense if he had focused on the Kitchen operation set up in the Ministry of the Interior of the Rajoy government to try to prevent the PP from being affected by the Bárcenas case. "Seventy policemen were used to hinder the investigation of the scandal," he said. It is not a bad example of the use of police resources for political purposes. Like the PISA report, which he also cited, the result of a corrupt police operation to invent evidence that pointed to Podemos and leak it to the media.

However, Sánchez was in the chamber to account for the scandal that occurred when he was president, the espionage of no less than 18 politicians and pro-independence activists at the hands of the secret service. There he pleaded ignorance. "The government does not know about the operational needs of the intelligence services," he said. With Aitor Esteban, from the PNV, he was more specific: "I can't decide whose phones are being spied on." That is obviously true, but Sánchez ignored the no less obvious fact that the CNI does its job on behalf of the government, because this is its only client.

There are many governments in Europe that let the intelligence services do their thing and prefer not to ask questions to which they are not very interested in knowing the answer. They are only interested in results. Even so, no one accepts that they are not politically responsible for these actions. If a scandal occurs, a government is obliged to give concrete answers.

In the event that he does not, he is vulnerable to all kinds of accusations. "He has not recognized that he knew it (because of the espionage) and of course he knew it, because he is the president of the Government," said Cuca Gamarra. The PP spokeswoman had no concrete evidence of that statement. It was just an inference, but no one can say that she is wrong, since there is no evidence to the contrary. In reality, there is no more evidence than the admission that espionage existed.

The president boasted that investigations of spies that violate fundamental rights are authorized by a judge, who has been the same judge for thirteen years. Aitor Esteban was able to examine the judicial records in the official secrets commission and he is not so sure that this was a relevant factor. "The judge didn't know what he was authorizing and don't make me say more. If he wants, I'll tell him later," he said, referring to the fact that the law prevents him from speaking in public about what he has seen.

Gabriel Rufián, from ERC, was clear about the element that unites the spies and that is not lost on anyone: "It's curious, because when you read the 18 names, you realize that they only share one thing, which is their ideology, which is that they are pro-independence". That is something that justifies being spied on until the end of time, according to the right-wing opposition. In fact, it is likely that PP, Vox and Cs think that there is little spying in this country.

Unlike other parliamentary explanations in the briefest control session, Sánchez pointed out a justification for the invasion of the privacy of those investigated. He referred to the violent acts in the mobilizations against the convictions in the Supreme Court of the members of the Government of Carles Puigdemont. "It was an obvious problem of national security," he said, and for that reason he recalled the blockade of El Prat airport and the "daily sabotage of commuter trains." He did not dare to explain why Pere Aragonès, current president of the Generalitat, was among those spied on.

Spokespersons for the pro-independence parties and United We Can bring up the concept of the "deep state" to describe the power of a series of state institutions controlled by a cabal of hidden characters. Sometimes it sounds too conspiratorial, a bit like the black holes of the left, because Podemos would never have reached the Government nor would the procés prisoners have been released from prison if that deep state existed with all that unlimited power. What is certain is that there are powers of the State, such as justice, full of right-wing people who pretend that their ideology does not influence them at all. But that is no secret.

Rufián introduced a novel element into the equation by presenting to Sánchez the intention of those powers: "Are you aware that there is an operation of a deep state bunker that seeks to excite us to destabilize you?" If the key is Esquerra's level of anger, we must conclude that the topic is not closed at all and that will persist in one way or another until the end of the legislature.

Sánchez insisted that "with this government there is no room for illegal action by state agencies." However, to believe him, an act of faith is needed, something that does not abound much in politics. The examination of the tests is reserved for a selective group of eyes. He also boasted that Spain has an intelligence system "more guaranteed" than other European countries, which is far from being real.

As in the outcome of some spy movies, the Pegasus case has left more questions than answers in its first parliamentary journeys and some of the latter depend too much on the personal credit that Sánchez deserves. What we do already know is that Abascal has been stung by Sánchez's references to his testosterone, his fragile masculinity that seems to always have to be denied to show that he is very macho. "He has criminalized testosterone twice," the Vox leader told him. "I have had quite pleasant experiences with testosterone. I don't know what kind of trauma you have." It was more information than we needed. In certain matters, absolute secrecy should exist.

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