The government's plans for thorough reform in the country's intelligence services will make the National Intelligence Directorate focus on ‘external' intelligence while a new agency will be set up to handle domestic matters, intelligence services will be monitored by the presidency
Decades after its foundation, the National Intelligence Directorate (MİT), Turkey's highly discreet intelligence service, will undergo a major makeover, that may or may not turn it into its American counterpart, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The government's plans for a complete reformation of intelligence services will divide intelligence into two: external and internal. The MİT will focus on external intelligence while a new agency will be established to handle homeland intelligence. More importantly, new reforms call for a tighter monitoring on intelligence services' activity by the presidency in an effort to prevent a weakness in the intelligence as witnessed at the time of the July 15 coup attempt by the Gülenist junta. The MİT was criticized for an intelligence failure and being late to inform authorities about the putsch attempt afoot.
Still, intelligence services will keep their liaison with the Prime Ministry that appoints MİT's directors. New reforms will be a part of statutory decrees regularly issued during the state of emergency following the coup attempt.
Although he did not directly criticize it, Erdoğan implied a failure for the part of the intelligence services prior to the coup attempt where he was targeted by pro-coup troops and at least 241 people were killed.
The government is currently in the decision process after checking out U.S. and French intelligence systems and a system drawing inspiration from the structures of intelligence services in those countries, with a domestic touch, is in the works. The new intelligence system will be implemented in the coming days.
A draft of planned reforms assigns MİT to "conduct intelligence activity abroad" and though it is planned for MİT to retain its domestic intelligence capacity, it will be limited and a new service will be established for intelligence work within the country. The government did not decide yet whether the new agency would be "undersecretary office" like MİT is, or a general directorate.
Other intelligence services run by the Gendarmerie Forces of the army, intelligence service of Turkish General Staff and Turkish National Police will be kept intact but they will be required to be interconnected with each other and the planned domestic intelligence agency.
The most important leg of the reform was efficient coordination and inspection of the intelligence services. To that extent, all intelligence services will be answerable to the presidency although the Prime Ministry will still maintain control of the services for their daily work. The intelligence services do not have any legally-binding tie to the presidency although the laws also do not prohibit a relation between the presidency and intelligence services.
The government also considers establishing an umbrella body to oversee coordination between external and domestic intelligence.
MİT is one of the state institutions, alongside others, that the Gülenists have targeted for infiltration in order to carry out their intended plans in Turkey. It dismissed 87 personnel for their links to the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ) following the coup attempt, according to media reports.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has signaled the reforms in statements last month. Explaining that the MİT monitors intelligence sharing between the police, gendarmerie and other institutions, Yıldırım said: "Today's need is to compile all domestic intelligence under one roof. Foreign intelligence is to continue to be compiled under the MİT." With efforts to prevent another coup attempt, Yıldırım said that similar restructuring of intelligence units could also be established within the TSK, which would conduct background checks on current and prospective personnel. "There may also be an intelligence unit established for the military itself to conduct investigations into personnel. This means conducting background checks on personnel to investigate whether they have any affiliation to a group or any other structure prior to accepting personnel, promoting or moving to another duty," Yıldırım said.