Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) post powerless under present govt. PSC probe into Easter Sunday carnage:
Posted on June 3rd, 2019

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

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The wartime Rajapaksa administration, having created the post of Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) to run an efficient network involving all three services, the police and the State Intelligence Service (SIS), placed Maj. Gen. Kapila Hendavithana, in charge of the powerful Office in January, 2007.

The CNI tasks included managing local and foreign intelligence and briefing the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by the President.

Then, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his capacity as the Minister of Defence, Public Security and Law and Order, established the Office of CNI by way of a Cabinet Memorandum to accommodate Hendavitharana, who functioned at the Defence Ministry, as the Intelligence Advisor, following his retirement in Oct 2006.

President Rajapaksa secured cabinet approval for the appointment though an attempt was made initially to accommodate Hendavitharana on Pay and Pension scheme.

The post of the CNI was meant to be held by a senior military intelligence officer though the incumbent government replaced Hendavitharana with Sisira Mendis, retired DIG, who was in charge of the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) at the time of his retirement.

A Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the alleged lapses on the part of those in authority leading to the single biggest security breach in Sri Lanka’s history on April 21, last week questioned Mendis. During the proceedings opened to the media, it transpired that Mendis lacked the authority to function the way his predecessor Hendavitharana had done.

Hendavitharana was based in Thailand as ‘regional intelligence coordinator’ for several months in the wake of accusations the Military Intelligence, which he served, was undermining the Oslo-led peace process. Hendavitharana was away for about six months and returned in January 2006.

PSC member, Field Marshal Fonseka pointed out to Mendis how Hendavitharana had functioned. Mendis said Hendavitharana had the authority to act.

In addition to Mendis, Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. Shantha Kottegoda, the retired army commander, too, appeared before the PSC.

The PSC first met on May 29 under the leadership of MP Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne, PC, in the absence of its Chairman Ananda Kumarasiri, currently overseas on an official visit. Moneragala District MP was expected to return in the coming weekend, his family said yesterday.

MP Wickremaratne yesterday told The Island that he would chair the PSC when it meets tomorrow (4). UNP representative Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and M. A. Sumanthiran of the TNA would participate in the proceedings though they weren’t present at the inaugural session.

he PSC comprises Ananda Kumarasiri (Chairman/UNP), Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka (UNP National List), Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne (UNP National List), Rauff Hakeem (SLMC), Ravi Karunanayake (UNP), Prof. Arsu Marasinghe (UNP National List), Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa (JVP), M.A. Sumanthiran (TNA) and Dr. Rajitha Senaratne (UNP).

Joint Opposition (JO) lawmaker Wimal Weerawansa yesterday told The Island that their group boycotted the PSC as at the time Speaker Karu Jayasuriya named members for it, there was likelihood of the government not giving dates for debate on two-day the JO’s no-faith motion against Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.

Weerawansa said they were also concerned about the government using PSC to clear Bathiudeen, leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (SCMC) accused of having clandestine links to those responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage.

Speaker Jayasuriya subsequently set June 18 and 19 for NCM.

MP Weerawansa said that the government lacked interest in maintaining intelligence services. National security was certainly not a priority for the yahapalana politicians, Weerawansa said, pointing out that the National Security Council (NSC) had last met, on Feb 19, 2019, prior to the Easter bombings. The government owed an explanation as to why it had not met for over a month, Weerawansa said. Answering another query, the MP said that it would be the responsibility of the PSC to identify the person responsible for summoning the PSC in case of an emergency.

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