Centro Superior de Información de la Defensa

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Superior Center of Defense Information
Centro Superior de Información de la Defensa (CESID)
Agency overview
FormedJuly 14, 1977; 42 years ago (1977-07-14)
Preceding agencies
  • Servicio Central de Documentación (SECED)
  • Brigada Político-Social (BPS)
  • Servicio de Información del Alto Estado Mayor (SIAEM)
Dissolved6 May 2002
Superseding agency
TypeState intelligence agency
Jurisdiction Spain
Agency executive

The Centro Superior de Información de la Defensa (English: Superior Center of Defense Information; CESID) was the Spanish intelligence agency before the current Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) took over as its successor in 2002.


The intelligence organizations of the Francoist period were the Central Documentation Service, Servicio Central de Documentación (SECED), the Political-Social Brigade, Brigada Político-Social (BPS)—a special branch of the plainclothes corps later renamed Brigada de Investigación Social (BIS) (Social Investigation Brigade)—and the Intelligence Service of the Civil Guard. Keeping files on the rural and urban population of every part of Spain, these bodies carried on close surveillance and political intimidation on behalf of the Francoist government.

The Centro Superior de Información de la Defensa was established in 1977 by Defense Minister Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado to replace the discredited former organizations in order to prepare Spain for a more democratic rule. On 2 November 1977 The Servicio de Información de la Presidencia del Gobierno (SIPG) was merged with the CESID.[1]

By a royal decree of January 1984, CESID was defined legally as the intelligence agency of the prime minister. Nevertheless, it was fundamentally military in nature, and its head in 1988 was an army lieutenant general, Emilio Alonso Manglano.[2] Observers speculated, however, that Manglano, who had held the post since 1981, eventually would be succeeded by a civilian.

Employing about 2,000 individuals as of 1988, CESID was staffed primarily by the military, supplemented by 500 members of the Civil Guard and by 80 plainclothes police. About 30 percent of the members of the staff were civilians, said to be selected usually from among close relatives of military officers. Women had been confined largely to administrative tasks, but they were increasingly being entrusted with operational assignments.

The principal operating units were domestic intelligence; foreign intelligence; counterintelligence; economics and technology (primarily industrial espionage); and operational support (principally application of devices for surveillance and eavesdropping). Considerable emphasis in external intelligence was allotted to North Africa and to the security of Ceuta and Melilla. Liaison was maintained with a number of intelligence services of North African and Middle Eastern nations, as well as with the Israeli agency, Mossad. Interception of ship transmissions in the strait area was another focus of activity. Domestic intelligence centered on exposure of plots against the government, monitoring activities of unrecognized political parties, and counterterrorism.

Although CESID was the senior agency, it did not have a firmly established coordinating function over other intelligence bodies, which included the General Headquarters of Information of the Ministry of Defense; the second sections of the army, the air force, and the navy staffs; and the Civil Guard Information Service, dedicated to criminal and terrorist intelligence.

In addition, the National Police Corps had a General Commissariat of Intelligence, with an antiterrorist mission that included a Foreign Intelligence Brigade to investigate international terrorism aimed against Spain. Considerable rivalry and overlapping of missions characterized the entire intelligence system. CESID, in particular, was reported to be seeking to gain exclusive jurisdiction over police foreign intelligence activities.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Preston (2005); The Triumph of Democracy in Spain, p. 97
  2. ^ Ruiz Miguel, Carlos.: El CESID: Historia de un intento de modernización de los Servidos de Inteligencia Arbor CLXXX, 709 (January 2005), pp. 121–150