Romanian Agencies

Ministry of Interior

The Ministry of Interior was the primary government organization responsible for maintaining order in Romania. It was one of only three ministries represented in the Defence Council, the highest governmental forum for considering national security issues. It controlled the Securitate, special security troops, and police throughout the country. The ministry's functions ranged widely from identifying and neutralizing foreign espionage and domestic political threats to the Ceausescu regime to supervising routine police work and local fire departments. The Ministry of Interior was organized into a number of directorates at the national level, and it controlled similar activities at the judet and municipal levels. There was a ministry inspectorate general in each judet as well as in Bucharest. The inspectorates general in the judete had subordinate offices in fifty major cities. They were accountable only to the first secretaries of the judet PCR committees and local people's councils as well as the ministry chain of command. In prewar Romania, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (the precursor of the Ministry of Interior) closely supervised the activities of local governments and courts. The PCR gained control of the ministry in 1946 and filled its ranks with party activists, enabling the party to seize power the next year and consolidate communist rule during the following decade. One of the PCR's first actions was to increase the strength of the police from 2,000 to 20,000 officers who were loyal to the party. Little is known about the activities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs after the late 1940s except that it was tightly controlled by the PCR general secretary and directly served his interests. In 1972 a deputy minister of internal affairs, General Ion Serb, was arrested and executed for spying on behalf of the Soviet Union. Serb was allegedly recruited by the Soviet Committee for State Security (Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti--KGB) early in his career during his training in Moscow. The Serb affair led to a purge within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was renamed the Ministry of Interior, and helped Ceausescu establish control over an important lever of power. In a bizarre 1982 affair, Ceausescu again purged the ministry, dismissing scores of officials who allegedly practiced transcendental meditation. Among those who lost their positions was a deputy minister of the interior, Major General Vasile Moise.

The Directorate for Penitentiaries operated Romania's prison system. In 1989 the prisons had a notorious reputation for mistreating inmates. Major prisons were located in Aiud in Alba judet, Jilava near Bucharest, Gherla in Cluj judet, Rahova, and Drobeta-Turnu Severin, and political prisoners were known to be confined in each of these institutions. Others may have been held in psychiatric hospitals. The Ministry of Interior's Service K exercised wide counter subversion authority in the prison system, beating dissidents, denying them medical attention, implanting microphones, censoring their mail to obtain incriminating evidence against them and their associates, and reportedly even administering lethal doses of toxic substances to political prisoners. The Directorate for Militia and the Directorate for Security Troops controlled the routine police and paramilitary forces of the Ministry of Interior respectively. The police and security troops selected new recruits from the same annual pool of conscripts that the armed services used. The police performed routine law enforcement functions including traffic control and issuance of internal identification cards to citizens. Organized in the late 1940s to defend the new regime, in 1989 the security troops had 20,000 soldiers. They were an elite, specially trained paramilitary force organized like motorized rifle (infantry) units equipped with small arms, artillery, and armoured personnel carriers, but their mission was considerably different. The security troops were directly responsible through the Minister of the Interior to PCR General Secretary Ceausescu. They guarded important installations including PCR judet and central office buildings and radio and television stations. The Ceausescu regime presumably could call the security troops into action as a private army to defend itself against a military coup d'etat or other domestic challenges and to suppress antiregime riots, demonstrations, or strikes. To ensure their loyalty, security troops were subject to intense political indoctrination and had five times as many political officers in their ranks as in the armed services. They adhered to stricter discipline than in the regular military, but they were rewarded with a better standard of living. The National Commission for Visas and Passports controlled travel abroad and emigration. In 1989 travel and emigration were privileges granted by the regime, not civil rights of citizens. As a rule, only trusted party or government officials could travel abroad and were required to report to the Securitate for debriefing upon their return. Prospective emigrants faced many bureaucratic obstacles and harassment at the hands of the Securitate.

Department of State Security / (Departamentul Securitatii Statului - Securitate)

The Ministry of Interior's Department of State Security (Departamentul Securitatii Statului, popularly known as the Securitate) was the Communist Party of Romania's secret political police. This organization was shrouded in secrecy, but an increasing number of defections from their ranks shed some light on their composition and activities. The Securitate was responsible for guarding the internal security of the Ceausescu regime and suppressing any unrest, disturbance, or dissident group that criticized or challenged it. The Securitate succeeded in repressing most organized opposition to the regime. Yet spontaneous outbursts of discontent with Ceausescu's "cult of personality," economic austerity policy, treatment of ethnic minorities, antireligious campaign, and lack of respect for internationally recognized civil and human rights occurred with increasing frequency after the mid-1970s, and ultimately led to the overthrow of the regime. Given the deteriorating economic situation and the growth of social unrest in the 1980s, the loyalty of the security and intelligence services was critical to the political future of the Ceausescu clan. Despite their treatment as a privileged caste, Securitate and DIE personnel showed signs of dissatisfaction with the regime and the situation in the country during the late 1980s. Poor living conditions were so widespread that even these individuals were affected, creating the potential for sympathy with a largely discontented population. The services played a decisive role in the outcome of the leadership struggle between Ceausescu, his heirs, and other contenders for power. In 1989 the directorates of the Securitate were the largest component of the Ministry of Interior. They also comprised Eastern Europe's largest secret police establishment in proportion to total population.

The Directorate for Investigations had agents and informants placed in virtually every echelon of the party and government, as well as among the public, to report on the antiregime activities and opinions of ordinary citizens. It perpetrated illegal entries into public offices and private homes and interrogated and arrested people opposed to Ceausescu's rule. Its agents frequently used force to make dissidents provide information on their compatriots and their activities. According to some prominent dissidents, because of the directorate's influence over judges and prosecutors, no dissident arrested by it had ever been acquitted in court. It worked closely with the Directorate for Surveillance and the Directorate for Mail Censorship. The latter monitored the correspondence of dissidents and ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania. Toward this end, it collected handwriting samples from the population and supervised the official registration of all typewriters and copying machines by the police. The General Directorate for Technical Operations (Directia Generala de Tehnica Operativa--DGTO) was an integral part of the Securitate's activities. Established with the assistance of the KGB in the mid-1950s, the DGTO monitored all voice and electronic communications in the country. The DGTO intercepted all telephone, telegraph, and telex communications coming into and going out of the country. It secretly implanted microphones in public buildings and private residences to record ordinary conversations among citizens.

The Directorate for Counterespionage conducted surveillance against foreigners Soviet nationals in particular to monitor or impede their contacts with Romanians. It enforced a variety of restrictions preventing foreigners from residing with ordinary citizens, keeping them from gaining access to foreign embassy compounds and requesting asylum, and requiring them to report any contact with foreigners to the Securitate within twenty-four hours. Directorate IV was responsible for similar counterespionage functions within the armed forces, and its primary mission was identifying and neutralizing Soviet penetrations. Directorate V and the Directorate for Internal Security focused mainly on party and government leadership cadres. Directorate V provided protective services and physical security for Romanian officials. With more than 1,000 agents, the Directorate for Internal Security concentrated on rooting out disloyalty to Ceausescu within the PCR hierarchy, the Council of Ministers, and the Securitate itself. It was a small-version Securitate in itself, with independent surveillance, mail censorship, and telephone monitoring capabilities. An additional source of information on attitudes toward the regime within the Securitate was one of Ceausescu's relatives, who was a lieutenant general in the Ministry of Interior. There were few signs of widespread organized opposition to the Ceausescu regime in the late 1980s, but scattered and sporadic indications of social and political unrest were increasing. This opposition emanated from political and human rights activists, workers, religious believers, ethnic minority groups, and even former mid-level officials of the PCR. But the ubiquitous Securitate effectively suppressed dissidence because activists were few in number and isolated from one another and from their potential followers.

The Securitate had an effective overall strategy and varied tactics for suppressing dissidence. It relied primarily on extralegal reprisals against leading individual dissidents that ranged from petty harassment, threats, and intimidation to physical beatings at the hands of the plainclothes militia. Dissidents were often fired from their jobs and then prosecuted and imprisoned for "parasitism," even though they were frequently denied all opportunities to work. To isolate dissidents from one another and from Western diplomats and media representatives inside Romania who could bring them international attention, the state denied them residence permits that were required by law before they could live in major cities. The state either avoided prosecuting dissidents in open trials that would generate publicity for their causes or prosecuted them in secret trials before military courts. Even if they avoided detention, some well-known dissidents had their telephone and mail service interrupted and were jailed without warning. Several lived under virtual house arrest and constant surveillance by plainclothes Securitate agents and the uniformed militia, who cordoned off their apartments and intimidated potential visitors. Dissidents were often vilified publicly in the media as traitors, imperialist spies, or servants of the ancient régime. When the cases of certain dissidents became known to international human rights organizations and the state was unable to act freely against them, the Securitate pressured these dissidents to emigrate by making their lives unbearable and granting them exit visas to leave the country.

Romania's industrial workers became an important source of unrest and a potential threat to the Ceausescu regime and future PCR rule in the 1970s. During the 1980s, the labor force's restiveness continued, primarily in reaction to the virtual collapse of the national economy and the deteriorating standard of living. The regime's economic austerity policy and attendant food, fuel, and power shortages hurt the working class in particular. But Ceausescu weathered spontaneous, short-lived labor protests with the support of the security forces and police, who prevented the development of a sustained, independent workers' movement in Romania that would be comparable to Poland's Solidarity. Although they never failed to subdue protestors, the Securitate and police appeared to be strained under the burden of monitoring restive workers throughout Romania in the late 1980s.

Department of External Information / (Departamentul de Informatii Externe - DIE)

The Department of External Information (DIE) was Romania's primary foreign intelligence organization. It worked closely with the Ministry of Interior, the Securitate, and the general staff's Directorate for Military Intelligence (Directia de Informatii a Armatei - DIA). The defection of the DIE deputy director, Lieutenant General Ion Pacepa, in 1978 revealed considerable information on its activities abroad for the first time, precipitated a major purge of personnel from the DIE, and contributed to the cooling of relations between Romania and the United States in the 1980s. The DIE was formed with Soviet assistance in the mid-1950s. Until the early 1960s, Romania sent its intelligence officers to attend a two-year KGB training course in espionage tradecraft near Moscow. In 1964 Romanian leader Gheorghiu-Dej curtailed DIE cooperation with the KGB and established a DIE training centre in Brosteni, in Suceava judet. The Directorate for Operations conducted clandestine intelligence collection and other activities outside Romania. Its officers operated under cover throughout the world, collecting political, economic, and technical intelligence for analysis by the Directorate for Foreign Intelligence. Brigade SD had 300 intelligence officers who were assigned primarily to Western countries to conduct technological espionage. It focused on acquiring military-related technology for use in the domestic arms industry and armed forces. Romania also transferred illegally obtained Western industrial, electronics, nuclear energy, and data-processing technology to the Soviet Union, under a secret bilateral agreement, in exchange for hard currency. Within the Directorate for Operations, the Emigré Brigade had intelligence officers who contacted and worked among the 600,000 Romanian émigrés living in the United States, France, and West Germany. Playing on Romanian nationalism, they encouraged former Romanian citizens to cooperate with the DIE in obtaining Western high technology and engendering a favorable image of Romania abroad. The Emigré Brigade also monitored the activities of exiled dissidents who were vocal critics of the Ceausescu regime and attempted to assassinate selected émigrés in retaliation for their opposition to Ceausescu. Once dissidents were removed from the domestic political scene, the DIE acted against those who continued their criticism of the Ceausescu regime while in exile.

In 1982 a Romanian agent who was dispatched to kill dissident writers Paul Goma and Virgil Tanase in Paris defected to French authorities before undertaking his mission. This episode severely strained previously close French-Romanian relations. The DIE's primary target abroad, however, was the Munich-based staff of Radio Free Europe's (RFE) Romanian service, many of whom were Romanian émigrés. For many years, RFE's Romanian service had monitored internal developments in Romania and exposed the repressive nature of the Ceausescu regime. The beating and stabbing of several RFE staff members by unidentified assailants, several death threats, and the deaths from cancer of three successive directors of the Romanian service were attributed by some observers to DIE operations. Also within the Directorate for Operations, Service D conducted covert operations, including the dissemination of forgeries and disinformation, to promote Romanian national interests and foreign policies. According to Pacepa, Service D's forgeries and disinformation were designed to influence Western countries to reward Romania for its independence of the Soviet Union with economic assistance and trading privileges and to generate political support among Third World countries.

Service Z of the Directorate for Operations reportedly maintained ties to non-state entities including guerrilla movements, terrorist groups, and international organized crime.

The Directorate for Technical Equipment was responsible for designing or obtaining specialized espionage equipment required by the DIE. It was reportedly involved in equipping some Romanian trucks to conduct espionage operations in Western Europe.

The DIE's National Centre for Enciphered Communications had the mission of protecting Romanian government and party communications from Western and Soviet electronic monitoring. In 1989 the ministries of national defence, interior, foreign affairs, and foreign trade relied on the centre's encryption systems in their daily operations at home and abroad

Romanian Intelligence Service [SRI]

Founded in March 1990, the Romanian Intelligence Service [SRI] is Romania's main domestic intelligence service, and the only Romanian secret service under parliamentary scrutiny. But many opposition politicians, intellectuals and journalists consider that the successor organizations of the communist political police continue to use at least some of their predecessor's dubious methods to try to exert extensive control over the population. From the outset SRI was depicted as President Ion Iliescu's "personal security service". The un-published Decree no 181 of 26 March 1990 which established the SRI stipulated that the new service was to be directly subordinated to the president, while Romania's parliament would have some control over it. The history of SRI, plagued by dissent and purges, appears to be rooted in the continuation under a new name of the communist-era secret service. In March 1994 is was reported that only one-third of approximately 15,000 Securitate officers had been offered employment in the new organisation. The internal organization of the SRI remains obscure, but Division C is responsible for the protection of the national wealth, and Division A is responsible for the protection of the constitutional order. The 1992 National Security Law defines national security very broadly and lists as threats not only crimes such as terrorism, treason, espionage, assassination, and armed insurrection, but also totalitarian, racist, and anti-Semitic actions, or attempts to change the existing national borders. Security officials may enter residences without proper authorization from a prosecutor if they deem a threat to national security to be "imminent." The Constitution states that the privacy of legal means of communication is inviolable; thus, the Romanian Intelligence Service is legally prohibited from engaging in political acts (for example, wiretapping on behalf of the government for political reasons). However, the law allows security services to engage in such monitoring on national security grounds after obtaining authorization. Similarly, although the law requires the SRI to obtain a warrant from a prosecutor to carry out intelligence activities involving "threats to national security," it may engage in a wide variety of operations, including "technical operations," to determine if a situation meets the legal definition of a threat to national security.

Guard and Protection Service (SPP)

The Guard and Protection Service (SPP) was established on 07 May 1990 as the Special Guard and Protocol Unit, and is headed by Major General Dumitru Iliescu, who repeatedly denied rumours that he is related to President Iliescu. The service is a new version of the former Directorate V of the Department of State Security, which was in charge of Ceausescu's protection and was formally dismantled days after his overthrow, in December 1989. But SPP is a different entity which inherited neither the structures, nor the equipment of the old Securitate Department. The average age of its 1,500 or so members is 34, and most of the new staff have served in the army. The main task of the service is to ensure anti-terrorist protection for Romanian dignitaries and their foreign guests, and to guard their headquarters and residences. The SPP is an autonomous, military-administrative authority controlled by the parliament and coordinated by the Supreme Council for the Defence of the Country (CSAT).

Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE)

The first new secret service to be built on the ruins of the old regime was the Foreign Intelligence Service, set up on 18 January 1990 under the command of Major General Mihai Caraman, a former deputy-director, from 1972 to 1978, of the Foreign Counter-intelligence Service. He was later replaced in April 1992 by Ioan Talpes, a former adviser to President Iliescu. Also includes;

Ministry of National Defence

Special Telecommunications Service

Counter-intelligence Directorate

Intelligence Directorate of the Army

Ministry of Internal Affairs/Intelligence Directorate

Directorate for Military Intelligence/(Directia de Informatii a Armatei--DIA)

Ministry of Justice

General Police Inspectorate

Operative Surveillance and Intelligence Directorate

General Directorate of Penitentiaries (DGP)

Independent Operative Service (SIO)

The Independent Operative Service (SIO) which functions within the General Directorate of Penitentiaries (DGP), is special intelligence unit of the Justice Ministry. Although very little was known about this relatively new secret service, it has been revealed that IOS, headed by Major General Ioan Chis, is in charge of gathering information regarding delinquency and organised crime within Romania's prison system, as well as of protecting state secrets within the DGP.


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