Intelligence Services

   Little information, much less knowledge, has been made public regarding Portugal's various intelligence services in recent times. Some information was published about the notorious political police during the Estado Novo (1926-74), but much less is known about intelligence units active during democratic Portugal (1974- ). Although no comprehensive study has documented the Estado Novo's political police, the PIDE, which operated after 1932 under various names and was sometimes compared to the Portuguese Inquisition (1536-1821), more has become known since Portugal's democracy was established, on 25 April 1974. One striking feature of the pre-1974 political police's work was its multifunctional nature: in addition to terrorizing, persecuting, and sometimes murdering the opposition, PIDE operated a prison system, was empowered by special laws to detain prisoners for 90 days or more without charge, carried out criminal investigations, produced political and foreign intelligence for leaders, and exercised some censorship functions, as well as having the power of arrest.
   With the end of censorship after the Revolution of 25 April 1974 and the abolition of the political police, which had many informants among the population, more information was published on the intelligence services. Given the tragic, tangled history of the Estado Novo's political police and its impact, the new democratic regime was reluctant to set up intelligence services immediately. Care was taken to ensure that such activities under a democratic government would be conducted under strictly observed laws and would be consonant with democratic values and principles. Intelligence units were developed only in the 1980s and were oriented to report to the prime minister, as well as to the ministers of the interior and of national defense. By the late 1990s, the Serviço de Informações Estratégicas de Defesa e Militar/Strategic Defense and Military Information Service (SIEDM) was operating under the Ministry of Interior, along with Serviço de Informações de Segurança/Security Information Service (SIS), a civilian outfit responsible for domestic security. Along with the SIEDM, other military intelligence units are also responsible to the Ministry of National Defense, such as the Serviço de Informações Militares/Mili-tary Information Service (SIM) and Divisão de Informacões Militares/ Military Information Division (DIMIL). In the national legislature, the Assembly of the Republic, a number of permanent committees are responsible for monitoring intelligence activities.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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