The outbreak of ‘Pegasus case’ has uncovered an internal struggle in the Government of Pedro Sánchez. The usual thing in these disputes so far is that they occur between the PSOE and its coalition partner, United We Can. But this time the discussion takes place in the socialist wing. It is starred by the Minister of the Presidency, Felix Bolanosand the Defense Minister, Margaret Oaks. The battle is taking place especially over a specific issue: which department depends on the security of spied mobile phones.
Although the official sources consulted try to reduce the tension and assure that both ministers have spoken by telephone this week, the different strategies between the two are evident. In the first place, already last week, as published by this medium, it was possible to see two antagonistic styles between Bolaños and Robles to defend the Government in the ‘Pegasus case’ after the strong criticism made by the independentistas. The hostility of the statements de Robles contrasted with the conciliatory tone shown by the Minister of the Presidency, generating discomfort and concern in some socialist voices.
Secondly, this week a new strategic fracture was once again glimpsed. On Tuesday, in the usual press conference after the Council of Ministers, Moncloa avoided ruling out a possible resignation of Peace Stephen, the director of the National Intelligence Center (CNI). Robles, for his part, in the appearance that took place in Congress this Wednesday, made a more closed defense of Esteban by pointing out that he was “holding on stoically.”
On the question of the responsibility of the mobile phones themselves, Defense points out that the function belongs to the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Government. A position that at the time that the cell phones of Sánchez and Robles were spied on was held by Bolaños himself. That version was broadcast by several media outlets this Wednesday and Minister Robles herself did not deny it. She even slipped that we journalists should dedicate “a minute” to consult the regulations to corroborate it.
But in Moncloa the version is different. In this sense, they emphasize that the ultimate responsibility corresponds to the National Cryptologic Center dependent on the CNI. And that the work of the Presidency is limited only to the routine maintenance of the devices.
There has also been some commotion about the dates when the Pegasus infections were known to the government. The official version of Moncloa is that it was not until last weekend. This has been repeated on different occasions. But several conservative media outlets have published other versions based on alleged reports from the CNI through which the Executive already knew about the espionage since last year. Some information that has not been denied by Defense, responsible for the intelligence forces.
what does the law say
In Moncloa they remember that the norm in force is the one established in article 2 of the Royal Decree 421/2004, of March 12, which regulates the National Cryptologic Center, a body dependent on the CNI. And this establishes that the powers of cybersecurity of communications of the Executive correspond to it.
Among its functions, according to the Official State Gazette, is “the security of the Administration’s information technology systems that process, store or transmit information in electronic format, that require protection by law, and that include means of encryption “. Also “the technology systems security of information that process, store or transmit classified information”.
The versions that support the version of Bolaños’ responsibility are based solely on the fact that among the functions assigned to the General Secretariat of the Presidency This point is found: “Support and technical advice to the different bodies of the Presidency of the Government. Assistance in matters of economic administration, personnel, maintenance and conservation, computer and communication means”. But there are no further mentions of the matter.
Thus, this Thursday a long-awaited Secrets Commission is held in Congress. One of the protagonists of the last days, the aforementioned Esteban, will appear in it. The partners of the Government do not trust too much in the explanations that she can give. In Moncloa they are on the lookout and consider that they are doing what they have to do in terms of transparency. Meanwhile, in United We Can, they continue to demand political responsibilities and yesterday Paul Echenique slipped the idea that it was Robles who had to resign.