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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Kandahár

RARELY have there been so many reasons to think about the country’s security policy. This week’s killing of a soldier in Kandahar, the recent murder of two mountain climbers by the Pakistani Taliban, and the arrest of a group of paragliders in Iran for alleged espionage prove that both terrorists and totalitarian regimes pose a threat to Slovak citizens.

RARELY have there been so many reasons to think about the country’s security policy. This week’s killing of a soldier in Kandahar, the recent murder of two mountain climbers by the Pakistani Taliban, and the arrest of a group of paragliders in Iran for alleged espionage prove that both terrorists and totalitarian regimes pose a threat to Slovak citizens.

On the other hand, law-enforcement agencies themselves can become dangerous, as evidenced by Edward Snowden’s revelations about the surprising extent of monitoring by American spies, suspicions of abuse of public funds in the military secret service and efforts by local police to force journalists to reveal their sources from inside the intelligence community.

Sadly, as in so many other cases, all of these events have led to little debate. Is the current supervision of spying agencies appropriate? Are there sufficient barriers against the abuse of power? Does a country as small as Slovakia need to have so many different types of security services, or should it leave some to allies and focus on several core activities? Shouldn’t members of parliament at least have some idea about how the budgets of the Slovak Information Service and the Military Intelligence are spent?

A new draft law on the intelligence agencies is already being circulated among lawmakers. Despite several changes, it does little to enhance outside control over what spies actually do and how they spend their money, which seems to be a crucial step. If the secret services are to excel at fighting the bad while leaving the good alone, they need to have someone looking over their shoulder.

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