Colombia’s intelligence service DAS is under increasing pressure
after first Semana published that, against all laws, the
secret police had been wiretapping judges, media bosses and
politicians and newspaper El Tiempo later revealed it was using the
team that was supposed to hunt down ‘Don Mario’ to do so.
According to the Bogotá newspaper, the intelligence officers that were supposed to be busy tracking down one of the country’s biggest drug lords, instead were spending their time wiretapping members of th Supreme Court who were investigating links between paramilitary drug lords and mostly coalition politicians.
The news came after an article in Semana in which sources said that the service was not just wiretapping judges, but also opposition politicians and the directors of W Radio, weekly Semana and Caracol Radio, the media most critical about the Uribe administration.
The Presidential Palace — accused by senator Gustavo Petro behind the wiretaps — says to be a victim of the illegal practices of its intelligence agency itself. “In this case, the Government is as much as a victim as the judges, journalists and others affected,” an anonymous source told El Tiempo.
According to this source, the DAS has also been monitoring the President’s private secretary and the President’s Secretary General Samuel Moreno.
According to Moreno, the DAS had been “conquered by the mafia”.
Both the articles in Semana and El Tiempo suggest the intelligence service increasingly have come under control of Colombian drug lords, performing services or doing favors for, dor example, ‘Don Mario’, ‘El Cuchillo’ and ‘El Loco Barrera’.
“I believe a change of funding is necessary, or definitely a severe
reorganization. The DAS costs 400 billion pesos (US$ ) a year and we
should think of reassigning functions to the Army and the Police and
convert it to a organization that’s more reduced, more efficient and
more transparent” Moreno said.
The DAS lost three directors over the past six years. The latest resigned after earlier wiretaps of oppositions came to light, the one before, Jorge Noguera, is in jail for alleged links to paramilitary death squads.
President Álvaro Uribe himself has not yet commented on the growing scandal.