Argentina's President Dissolves Intelligence Agency, Citing Prosecutor's Death
One week after an Argentine prosecutor was found dead on the eve of his testimony about an alleged government cover-up of a terrorist attack, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has announced the dissolution of her government's intelligence agency.
Kirchner said she plans to shut down the SI, the Secretariat of Intelligence, in favor of a newly created agency, the Federal Intelligence Agency. She said it's time to reform the intelligence service because the existing one "has not served the national interests."
Kirchner announced the change in a national address Monday night, appearing on television while seated in a wheelchair next to a table holding a framed photograph of her with her late husband, former President Nestor Kirchner.
It's the latest twist in a story that stretches back to the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association, in which 85 people were killed.
The lead investigator in that case, appointed after years of suspicions of a conspiracy, was Alberto Nisman, who recently accused Kirchner and others of making a deal with Iran. He said the government wouldn't punish "at least two former Iranians in the case in order to further Argentina's 'commercial, political and geopolitical interests,'" as NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported.
Days after he filed a criminal complaint against Kirchner and others and sought to freeze some $23 million in assets, Nisman was found in his apartment, dead of a single gunshot to the head.
Even as an initial autopsy found no proof of outside involvement in the prosecutor's death, investigators were still treating it as suspicious. No gunpowder was found on Nisman's hands, and a locksmith claimed that the back door to Nisman's apartment was open.
And Kirchner raised even more questions, NPR's Garcia-Navarro reported, when she "took to social media to say that she now also did not believe Nisman had committed suicide. She wrote, 'They used him while he was alive and then they needed him dead.' "
The authorities have been trying to determine where the gun that killed Nisman came from; it didn't belong to him, they said. Kirchner added a new wrinkle to that story Monday night, suggesting that the gun was provided by a man who "is related to the media group Clarin — an old foe of the Kirchners," Garcia-Navarro reports.
The latest developments will provide even more fodder to conspiracy theorists and others who have suggested there was more to the story of Nisman's death.
And Kirchner's dramatic appearance will also be the subject of rumor. When word came out that she had fractured her ankle last month, the differing reports faced scrutiny that included a comparison of differing explanations for her health as well as a thumbnail psychological profile of the president by a political science professor.