Secret Service: "much better than we can believe"

(To Andrea Cucco, Maria Grazia Labellarte)

The Secret Services are a reality still unknown, despite the recent work of openness and transparency carried out by them after the reforms of recent years. We have had the opportunity in the past interview the spokesperson of the Services on two occasions. But, beyond the declarations of a national intelligence executive, how to verify and above all evaluate the work?

In seeking new ways, we meet Senator Giuseppe Esposito, the vice-president of COPASIR, the body that "systematically and continuously verifies that the activity of the information security system is carried out in compliance with the Constitution and the laws, in the exclusive interest and for the defense of the Republic and its institutions ”.

Senator Esposito, what is COPASIR, the parliamentary committee for the security of the Republic?

It is the supervisory and control body for our security apparatus and is composed of 5 senators and 5 deputies, 5 of the majority and 5 of the opposition. The presidency is given to the opposition, the only vice presidency is given to the majority.

Copasir assesses sensitive issues such as the State Secret. The commander in chief of the security apparatus is the president of the council. Parliament through Copasir can learn about the details and background of an operation. All this, however, once completed.

Is your degree of access to information the same as that of the chairman of the board?

In some ways even greater. He operatively decides on an action, but we can then go backwards to reconstruct the framework of a decision. But not out of morbid curiosity, the objective remains the one that indicates the very institution of our committee, that is to say the security of our Republic.

We are informed of interceptions when they start but we do not know the details or the recipients. This always happens until the program ends.

What are Secret Services for you?

I love teaching school children the importance of safety. The example I often use is the following: "services are like weather": they must indicate what will happen in six months or in two days. The recipient of the information will then decide on the appropriate clothing. Therefore they must foresee a "trend".

The time of the cowboys or 007 is over. Today's services mainly deal with analysis, HUMINT (HUMan INTelligence, information gathering by means of interpersonal contacts, ed) and lately a great deal of SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence, Spying on electromagnetic signals, ed) or cyberspace.

The threats have changed. At one time we needed 100 men in Russia, today 4 analysts in Rome are enough. Once the Red Square parade in Moscow was observed on the field with several men, today it can be done on YouTube and in a way that is accessible to all.

Another definition I like to use to describe security apparatuses is: "The last bag of illegality to defend Democracy".

Without certain evidence of a terrorist attack a magistrate would take two months to authorize an interception, through the procedure of functional guarantees it can be done.

The Services, authorized, serve to avoid certain impasse operational. However, when criminal activity is highlighted, everything is entrusted to the judiciary and police authorities.

When did you discover Italian intelligence?

I approached the Services with the death of Nicola Calipari. I was an official and was not yet engaged in active politics. Curiosity led me to try to understand who was the "leader of the presidency of the fallen council to save Giuliana Sgrena". I discovered a series of vulnus of the whole operation ...

In the 2006 I followed the case of Via Nazionale which involved Pompa and Pollari on Abu Omar. I then participated in the (technical) working group for the drafting of the 124 law to reform the Services. In 2008, elected, I entered the body that was previously called COPACO and then became COPASIR. I was immediately appointed vice president. Task - first case in Italy - which has been confirmed to me until today.

The services are as if you imagined them?

No. In the 2004 I imagined "M" of 007 movies or a big "Mossad" with more financial resources available. After all, however, I didn't consider them anything special.

Today I can say that I am much better than we can believe. In Italy we are always used to speaking ill of what we have! After eight years of reorganization, the quality of the staff is excellent. The era in which a ministerial mandate ended and the escort agents were sent to the Services is over. And today the escort service is carried out by the Services only to the president of the council, who is its top organ.

Less dispersion of roles, more analysts, more operational, fewer people "supported" in various offices but not yet Eden. Definitely a nice garden.

Well, you can't just throw them all away ...

We have done a great cleaning. When I arrived there were "more drivers than cars". There were captains of the carabinieri standing at the gatehouse! Situations that screamed revenge ...

With the 2007 reform and the "reform of the reform" of the 2011 (first signatories of D'Alema and I) we have further improved the structure. Do you think that in the 2007 there was no structured economic-financial department! The "sovereign funds" of other countries acted in Italy without being disturbed or better yet without anyone noticing.

In the 2009 we have significantly increased the agencies' capacity for the Cyber for the aspect of active and passive security - a reality then unknown - and we have also begun to talk about "patriotic hackers". Today we are far ahead with our actions compared to many services in the world, even allies.

We are missing one thing: distribution in the world. We do not have the 50 billion dollars available to American agencies. We cannot therefore be present everywhere.

The areas on which we are most present today are the Balkans, North Africa, the Middle Eastern area and West Africa. For the latter we are increasing our attention in recent months. In my opinion, we should also focus more on South America.

How are the allies?

Someone referring to Egypt says "our friend Al Sisi ...". Egypt has its needs, we are ours. A thought from a distinguished head of services - which I made my own - says "allies are sometimes not friends and friends are sometimes not allies". Here, we must look for "friends" from time to time and knowing that they do not always tell the truth.

In 2011 I was opposed - and still am - to the war in Libya. Politics must not trust the jesters who praise you, they must listen to those who are independent.

Why am I against sending "5.000"? Without a Libyan national unity government there will be 10 tribes on the Western side and 140 against. We must have at least 100 asking us for intervention through a government of all.

In Libya, thanks to our strong diplomatic position we are the only ones to have relations with all the factions present in the country, from Tobruk to Tripoli, from Sabrata to Benghazi. Indeed, many allies come to us to get the situation on the Libyan theater explained.

Libya, like North Africa, is fundamental for energy and immigration, not to mention the necessary democracy in the area. For these purposes we need information cleaned up by false 130 warning newspapers. We must not act according to "frenzies" dictated by the moment because what happened in the 2011 with the military intervention of France and England testifies that, if something is destroyed, we must then know what happens afterwards and which organisms can control the territory in the post-intervention period. . This is the great Libyan question: without the certain contribution of the indigenous forces it becomes complex to imagine any subsequent scenario.

We have recently returned from Syria and the situation on the field is tremendously different from that reported by the media. The "moderate" rebels immediately carried out horrific massacres. The same discrepancy between reality and propaganda occurred in the 2011 against Gaddafi. Are decision makers correctly informed about situations on the ground?

Yes. Everyone, starting with me, knew that Turkey or Qatar were "highways of Jihad", as well as that Libya was financing Al Baghdadi and Bin Laden or that the future Democratic president of the United States went to dinner only eight years ago with the Caliph. I'm not the one saying it but Hillary Clinton herself in her book Hard choices ("Difficult choices", ed). In a photo published in the first American edition (in the Italian one it was removed) we see the former Syrian ambassador, Clinton and Al Baghdadi, having dinner in London!

We think of the Middle East with a Western perspective. America does not deal with it and Europe is not able to occupy the space left empty. The US is committed to the public debt with the Chinese who hold most of it, for the food side with Brazil and for other interests with India.

I believe, despite being a supporter of NATO, that the Russians should enter the Libyan game like player active.

Italy and Europe have already lost the game in Turkey and Ukraine, if we lose Libya we have also closed. A suicidal European foreign policy. I regret this picture that emerges about Europe on foreign and defense policy because I know the work that Mogherini is doing and its preparation. It is not his fault. Europe is politically in plaster because of its Franco-German dominance.

What is the subjection of our Services to those Americans?

"Awe" is no more. There is some "parental" constraint, many have basically grown up in the American shadow for years. But there is no longer a psychological subjection.

One last question: at the top of the armed forces of the Republic there is the President of the Republic, at the summit of the Information and Security Services of the Republic there is the president of the council ... Isn't there something that doesn't come back?

The anomaly for me is the President of the Republic, clearly not related to President Mattarella. We cannot give a guarantor of the country the command of a war action. Also the Supreme Defense Council should have the chairman of the board as the absolute summit.

The American or French president heads the services and the armed forces, but is elected by the citizens to whom he responds. The president of the council is "vigilant" by the parliament, the president of the Republic only with a mass in "state of accusation".