CHENG, Yu-Chin

(Lecturer, Institute of Political Studies, Charles University in Prague
Director of European Office, Defense Technology Monthly Taiwan)


After collapse of Soviet Union, the communist regimes of the satellite countries in the CEECs (Central and Eastern European Countries) have been thrown away as well, and that matters both the change of political and economic systems as well as security sectors. Among the CEECs, Czech Republic is the unique case while facing political and economic revision, and so is its security service. In this article, the BIS (Counter-Intelligence Service) is the subject to study, and it is very meaningful to observe what change will come up after the new bill into enforcement in 2012.

The BIS (Bezpečnostní Informační Služba) stems from the Czech secret police—StB (Státní tajná Bezpečnost) is in charge of domestic security and counter-intelligence activities; unlike the StB, the BIS is pure counter-intelligence agency to combat every espionage conspiracy coming from the third countries, and has no authority to practice law enforcement. The key missions of the BIS are Democracy and Constitution Protection, Espionage Activities Prevention, and Law Enforcement Collaboration, and one more task assigned to this agency is counter-terrorism after the 911 terrorist attack with accordance with the USA request in the name of the NATO treaty.

The predecessor of the BIS was under the Ministry of Interior, and it still enjoyed the power of law enforcement, but the 527/1992 Bill makes the BIS independent from the ministry and withdraws this power; by the reason, the BIS is always to cooperate with Czech Police to combat illegal activities. Besides crime, the BIS is responsible for counter extremists, terrorists, proliferation of weapons, gray economy, energy security, spy rings, organised crime, human-trafficking and illegal immigration, and anti-corruption. Obviously, the Czech government relies on the BIS to cope with security issues, but this counter-intelligence agency does not enjoy enough budget, and the top officers of the BIS believe that the budget issue will damage the agency function soon or later. In addition, the Czech government considers that corruption issues sometimes happens in the BIS, and gets ready to create another institution to supervise it. It is believed that the BIS will face new challenge after the new bill enforcement.

Multilateralism in complex of situation
Unlike other intelligence services from the great countries, the BIS is small-scale agency but the agents are well-trained and educated; however, some of them adopts the training of communist secret police, but the majority of the agents are from new school. Collaboration and Cooperation are the key principles when the BIS starts own mission, and it deals with domestic security issues; in the abovementioned problems, the problem of the spy rings makes the BIS more panic, particularly the FSB (Russian Foreign Intelligence Service). According to the BIS Annual Reports, the FSB creates plenty of spy rings into Czech Parliament and the Ministries to influence decision-making; no doubt, what the FSB plans hurts Czech national security and interest as well as the alliance’s. Worst of all, the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev denies accusation from Czech media, and spoke that no espionage activities took place in the Czech Republic. Because the counter-espionage action is very domestic, the BIS cannot enjoy the international cooperation to overcome this problem.

Nevertheless, the BIS is in the centre of multilateralism to cooperate with home and foreign security and police units to deal with any illegal activities; for example, the BIS has started to cooperate internationally to counter terrorism since 2001, and also provide help to solve the Norwegian Massacre in July 2011. The BIS has already known that more and more illegal activities are connected internationally, and it is impossible to cope with alone.

New Face After 2012
One of the BIS missions is to collaborate with Czech Police to combat corruption, but the BIS suffers the same problem as well; not only the BIS, the other security and police units have the same problem, and the Czech government makes decision to counter corruption completely. Last year, the BIS faced the corruption accusation by the reason of the CircleTech Case, because the BIS offered “tax-free money” for the private firm that helped the BIS create encryption system. Even though, Jan Subert—the spokesman of the BIS promised to investigate the CircleTech Case, the public opinion is doubtful against the agency. 

In early 2011, the Czech government delivers the Proposal (Návrh zákona o Generální inspekci bezpečnostních sborů) in order to create the General Inspectorate of Security Services (GIBS) to prevent every Czech police and security agency from power abusing and corruption. The most importance for the GIBS is to stop any violation of human rights coming from any Czech security and police agency.

According to the Proposal, the Czech government will nominate Ivan Bílek—the former deputy president of Czech Police and recruit 335 employees to watch every security and police unit, and the GIBS will have the annual budget of around Kč 300 million ($17.7 million); currently, Mr. Ivan Bílek serves as chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission of the Czech Police. However, the Military Intelligence Service (Vojenské zpravodajství) has immunity from the GIBS.

Since 1989 the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service has continued to reshape itself to follow the complexity of situation in every era; the eternal principles and missions for the predecessors and successors of the Czech Counter-Intelligence Services are to keep the country safe and glorious. Nowadays, the BIS is the bridge to connect domestic and foreign intelligence agencies to counter any illegal activities, and plays the key role to counter espionage activities within the territory. All the same, the BIS cannot get rid of corruption, but the Proposal will empower the new watchdog agency to correct the BIS.
It is believed that the GIBS brings impact on the BIS—respect human rights, stop corruption and prevent power abusing; in fact, the Proposal is designed to balance the national security, human rights, and effectiveness of the BIS, and that demonstrates the BIS is in on the way of new trend—reasonable power execution, less privilege, and more constitutional.  


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