Argentine Presidency / Handout via Reuters

Argentine president seeks overhaul of intelligence services

President seeks to dissolve Argentina's intelligence services after a prosecutor's mysterious death

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner plans to disband Argentina's intelligence agency in the wake of the mysterious death of a state prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.

In her first televised address since Alberto Nisman was found dead with a single bullet to the head, Kirchner said on Monday night she would send Congress a bill creating a new security body that would be more transparent.

Nisman's death on Jan. 18, just a day before he was due to appear in Congress over his claims that Kirchner conspired to derail his investigation, has triggered a storm of conspiracy theories, including some directly against Fernandez.

But her government says Nisman was tricked into making his latest allegations against Kirchner and then killed when he was no longer of use to those who led the conspiracy.

It said the scandal is linked to a power struggle at the Intelligence Secretariat, or SI, and to operatives who had recently been fired.

The SI, formerly known as the SIDE, has significant power and autonomy. In the "dirty war" directed by Argentina's military dictatorship of 1976-83, the agency spied on Marxist rebels, labor unions and other leftists.

In the speech, she provided no new details of the alleged plot but she did address Nisman's allegations for the first time. Nisman claimed the week before his death that Kirchner opened a secret back channel to Iran to cover up Tehran's alleged involvement in the AMIA bombing and gain access to Iranian oil.

"It's unreasonable to think our government could even be suspected of such a maneuver," said Kirchner, who spoke while sitting in a wheelchair because of a fractured ankle.

Kirchner said the draft bill will be sent to Congress before she travels to China at the weekend, and that legislators would hold extraordinary sessions in the February holiday period to debate the proposal.

"We need to make the intelligence services more transparent because they have not served the interests of the country," said Kirchner.

Kirchner said the new "Federal Intelligence Agency" would have a director and deputy, and only a few in government would have access to the agency heads, apparently a critique of a system where many in Congress have contact with intelligence officials.

Opinion polls have shown few Argentines expect they will ever know how Nisman died.

Nisman was appointed 10 years ago by Kirchner's late husband — then-President Nestor Kirchner — to investigate the 1994 attack on the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires.

In 2013, Argentina and Iran reached an agreement to investigate the attack, which remains unsolved. That year Nisman released an indictment accusing Iran and Hezbollah of organizing the blast. Iran denies any involvement.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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