One cannot be a democrat while defending the MİT law

If the new National Intelligence Organization (MİT) law accepted already in Parliament is in fact approved — and thus implemented — by President Abdullah Gul, Turkey will truly find itself distanced from its turbulent democratization period, instead falling into the category of a typical “Third World country.” Yes, the situation is precisely this clear and serious.

What is now clear is that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is intent not only ruling the country with his oft-mentioned “power of national will,” but instead “the power of organized intelligence forces.” The true colors of his proposed “New Turkey” are now openly evident for everyone to see.

The mentality underlying this new MİT law could really only be compared with mentalities found in the former Baathist and Soviet regimes. Under both Baathist and Soviet regimes, state and society were both held under the tight control of intelligence agencies, with even the slightest hint of criticism or objection immediately squashed. In both of these regimes, it was intelligence agencies that provided the greatest guarantee for dictatorship. With an order constructed and kept in place because of the work of intelligence agencies and of course the military, dictators believed that things would run this way forever. But of course, they were wrong.

In response to these comments, no doubt some will be quick to reply, “whatever are you talking about, Erdogan was elected, the people of this country love Erdogan,” and so on.

Don’t worry, my response to this is not going to be “Yes, but don’t forget, Hitler was also elected.” Many people have already tried this route. I think it will suffice to simply remind my readers that in many dictatorial regimes reliant on the limitless authorities and privileges that their intelligence agencies have been equipped with, elections have also taken place, with large crowds filling city squares to listen to dictators actually give speeches. These images of course are not only “temporary,” but also extremely misleading in nature.

More important is actually understanding correctly the mentality underlying these issues.

The current MİT law carries with it the mentality of the Sept. 12 coup supporters. The duties it defines are vague; under the current law, the MİT is given a wide arena for its operational activities, with ambiguous connections to the law. All right, but does the new law make MİT more transparent, legalize its duties and responsibilities, and connect it more strongly to democratic principles? We can understand the true mentality of this new law only if we answer this question honestly.

If the new law is actually implemented, it will be the primary duty of every citizen of the Turkish Republic to serve MİT, and to fulfill any demands MİT may make. People who don’t offer up documents or information demanded by MİT will be sent to prison. The media, trade organizations, civil society and individuals — in other words, the entire society — will be completely defenseless and unprotected against MİT. All provisions made in the current MİT law that protect people against MİT will be left meaningless if this new law is implemented. MİT agents and their assistants will not be allowed to be tried in courts of law without the specific permission of the prime minister. Which means that, essentially, they will be allowed the “privilege” of literally committing crimes whenever they wish…

No doubt these assertions will elicit this kind of response from some people: “But Parliament is going to supervise MİT; this is an historic and democratic step.” And so on. And it is true that as a part of the new MİT law, there is to be a “Security and Intelligence Commission” formed in Parliament.

But for this commission to be portrayed as one that will actually be overseeing or supervising MİT’s actions is a bad skewing of the truth. It is also demagoguery. Because in fact, this commission will actually only be examining reports prepared for it by the offices of the prime minister. Information and documents that could be characterized as “state secrets” will not be included in these reports. In fact, the commission will possess no other function than to provide advice and share its views on the reports placed before it. In other words, we are talking about a commission really only for show, one that does not actually possess any real authorization to “supervise” or oversee MİT.

The stance taken on the topic of the new MİT law is set to be a mirror of the choices we all have when it comes to the future of a democratic Turkey. It is no longer possible to both defend this law and define oneself as a “democrat.”