The National Intelligence Service Bill (Bill No. 31 of 2012), which went through the second reading yesterday, is expected to sail through after MPs overwhelmingly supported it, but with some amendments.
Spy agents will listen to telephone conversations of Kenyans as they gather intelligence on security matters. National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) will also change name to National Intelligence Service (NIS). Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo said NSIS has been illegally tapping telephone conversations.
“Even NSIS has been tapping into calls, even for you Mr Speaker. We now want to make it legal,” he added. Ikolomani MP Bony Khalwale said it would be wrong to oppose a law that seeks to improve security.
He, however, said the new law should demand very high ethical standards for NIS officers. “In India, the State spy agency has subcontracted surveillance,” he added. The House was told the US, Israel, Russia and the UK take security matters very seriously, which makes them to strengthen their spy agencies on a regular basis.
Nominated MP Rachael Shebesh termed the Bill ambitious. She said the Government must change the perception Kenyans have on spies if NIS is to succeed. “Kenyans must have confidence in NIS. It should live up to expectations,” she added.
Wajir West MP Adan Keynan said the officers should remain discreet but spread all over the country.
He added the spy agency must be 100 per cent independent and committed to providing intelligence.
Gichugu MP Martha Karua said senior officers at NIS must be vetted before being employed.
There were, however, mixed reactions on whether NIS officers should be allowed to carry guns.