The arapongagem scandal at the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin) during the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) has deep roots in the lack of accountability of the military and the absence of an effective dismantling of the persecution structures of the dictatorship (1964-1985). This is the assessment of historian and public security specialist Priscila Brandão. For her, this is the main difficulty for the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) to react and dismantle the body’s Bolsonarist apparatus.
“The government remains hostage to the military. The big problem we have is the Amnesty Law of 1979 and the interpretation that the STF gave in 2010, when it accepted the interpretation that the military gave. The military has had effective veto power since the transition. As long as there is no possibility of even talking about the crimes of the dictatorship, no one will think there will be punishment in this country”, says Priscila, participating in the podcast Three by Four.
The historian considers the case to be the most serious in Brazilian history and represents a major risk to the country’s security. Above all due to the use of a State agency that had its structure distorted to serve the political and personal interests of the Bolsonaro clan.
“We had the case of the BNDES wiretap, which led to the creation of the CCAI (Commission for the Control of Intelligence Activities, in the National Congress), but without a doubt now the situation has been raised to a new level. I don’t understand this as a ‘parallel Abin’. This action was developed under Ramagem’s command, under the supervision of (General Augusto) Heleno – head of the Institutional Security Office (GSI) at the time – and with Bolsonaro’s knowledge. None of this existed without this type of command”, he assesses.
Investigations into the illegal use of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin) to illegally monitor authorities, politicians and journalists during the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) still need to clarify what the objectives of the espionage were. The PF’s suspicion is that advisors to Rio de Janeiro councilor Carlos Bolsonaro (Republicans), who are also the target of the operation, requested information from the former director of Abin Alexandre Ramagem, fueling a network of defamation. Investigations also indicate that Abin was used to benefit Flávio and Jair Renan Bolsonaro, also sons of the former president, in investigations of which they were targets.
Time to act
Former PT president, José Genoino, podcast commentator Three by Four, considers that the Lula government made a mistake in not carrying out an effective transition in the area during the change of government. And it needs to take advantage of the opportunity created by the scandal to reform Abin, both with regard to the body of agents and the agency’s functions.
“Intelligence and information are strategic for any country in the world. We can’t be naive about something like this. I am very sorry that our government experience was naive in not making a transition. There were signs that Bolsonarism had taken hold within the GSI. I think it was a mistake for the Lula government not to have made the transition in the intelligence area. It is good to make clear the two areas that did not have a transition: intelligence and the Armed Forces. Exactly the two areas that generated the most problems in our government”, he stated.
In general, an intelligence agency must provide relevant information that assists decision-making by authorities, for example, in relation to a war started between foreign nations, an epidemic or economic negotiations. However, according to Brandão, Abin was created with a completely open proposal and acts outside of what would be expected from an agency of this type, for example, carrying out wiretaps or invading devices, something that would only be the function of the Federal Police, in legal actions. .
Genoíno also highlights that this political use of Abin may have other repercussions, as the agency holds confidential and strategic information from different areas, which may have been accessed and leaked. “You have strategic information about the country, about resources, projects, areas. Furthermore, Abin is part of SISBIN (Brazilian Information System). And what is inside SISBIN? The three instruments of the Armed Forces, Coaf (Financial Activities Control Council), Federal Police and P2 (military police intelligence sector). If Abin was vulnerable, all of this could have been vulnerable,” he says.
New episodes of Three by Four are released every Friday morning, discussing the main events and the country’s political situation.
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho