August 31, 2012
The Ministry of National Security is working diligently to bring the government's promised National Intelligence Agency (NIA) into force, Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell told The Nassau Guardian yesterday. Bell said the NIA is still in its "embryonic" stage, but will ultimately collect and transmit valuable intelligence to various law enforcement agencies to aid in the government's fight against smuggling and terrorism.
Although former Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Clifford 'Butch' Scavella has been appointed to head the new agency, Bell could not say when the unit will become operational but said it will happen "very quickly." "The idea and objective is to make sure there is continuous collaboration and co-ordination to ensure that intelligence or information that is received is not only dealt with, but is properly analyzed and disseminated in a timely manner, and ...also deal with major threats to national security, particularly organized crime, terrorism, money laundering, trafficking in drugs and human beings, alien smuggling those sort of things," Bell said. "...The director and the minister of national security are currently putting it together and it's coming together very quickly.
The minister is working very, very aggressively to bring it into existence with full strength and full force." He added that the NIA will be different from the Special Intelligence Branch (SIB) of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF). "SIB is a branch within the Royal Bahamas Police Force which reports directly to the commissioner of police," he said. "The intelligence agency is different; they will be the umbrella organization that deals with all matters relating to national security.
So their role is different. The Special Intelligence Branch for the most part deals with VIP security, those sort of things." Bell said he expects Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage to bring legislation to Parliament to strengthen the proposed unit, but said the NIA will be able to do some work without any new laws.
"One can begin to act without the legislation but the legislation will be coming at some point," he said. The creation of a National Intelligence Agency was a campaign pledge of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and outlined in its charter for governance.
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