Controls of the CNI
The CNI, like any State body, is subject to political and economic-administrative controls. The former is exercised by the Government, through the Delegate Commission for Intelligence Affairs, and the Congress of Deputies, within the framework of the Commission for the Control of Appropriations Earmarked for Reserved Expenditure; the latter is carried out by the Office of the Comptroller General of the State Administration, the Court of Auditors and the Congress.
In addition to these controls, the judicial control is key to the CNI's functioning and exceptional within the Administration. The existence of the Organic Law Regulating the Prior Judicial Control of the CNI and its strict application make it difficult to find a system that offers its citizens more guarantees that none of the activities carried out by their Intelligence Service are carried out outside the law.
Every year, the Government sets the objectives on which the CNI has to work. To this end, the Government Delegate Commission for Intelligence Affairs (CDGAI) proposes to the president of the Government the annual objectives of the CNI and includes them in the Intelligence Directive. It is also responsible for monitoring and carrying out a periodic evaluation of the development of the requirements set out in the Directive.
The CNI submits the relevant information on its functioning and activities to the Congress of Deputies, through the Commission that controls the appropriations allocated to reserved expenses. The Commission is aware of the Intelligence objectives established annually by the Government and the report that the CNI draws up every year to evaluate the activities, situation and degree of achievement with the objectives set for the previous period.
The members of the Commission are also privy to official secrets; this is why, colloquially, the media usually refer to it as the “Official Secrets Commission”.
When, in order to comply with the Intelligence Directive, the CNI must carry out activities in which the rights set out in article 18 of the Constitution (domestic privacy and secrecy of communications) may be affected, prior authorization from a supervisory judge of the Supreme Court must be obtained.
Annually, the Budget Act establishes the items for reserved expenses; among them those of the funds budgeted for the CNI. Since the amount limits the development of its activities, it can be considered as an a priori control.
The CNI is assigned a delegated comptroller of the Office of the Comptroller General of the State Administration who carries out a permanent financial control, verifying that it complies with the regulations and the principles of good management, budgetary stability and financial balance. The comptroller must also audit and approve the annual accounts of the CNI before they are made available to the Court of Auditors.