Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Venezuelan military

Hugo Chávez backed off a previous plan of intelligence reform, but through decree now is restructuring the role and function of armed forces, and increasing their role in intelligence--responsible for the "organization, planning, management and control of a national intelligence and military counterintelligence system.'' The reforms also give the president more personal control by giving the executive sole authority to appoint military command and giving the president the option of bypassing regular chains of command by naming anyone he/she wants in "command" regardless of their rank. (Article 80: "military personnel in all grades or hierarchies will be subordinate to the officer named in command.")

Once again, he used decree power to make a decision that, by its nature, should entail intense discussion and debate in the legislature. Further, it is a bad idea to have the military deeply involved in intelligence, especially domestic. It is also a bad idea to screw around with the normal chain of command through presidential whim.


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