National Security Politics


Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Yasminé Pontif, has come under a scathing attack by independent Haven Senator June Warren for her failure to appoint the head of the Sanctarian Intelligence Service, almost six months after the post originally became vacant. Pontif, who has been Secretary for Foreign Affairs since the new government came into office at the beginning of March, is the Secretary in charge of the intelligence organisation.

Senator Warren sits on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, and chairs that committee’s Sub-Committee on International Security; this sub-committee is usually the one concerned with the happenings and operations of the SIS. In an interview yesterday evening on a major news channel, Senator Warren blasted Secretary Pontif as “disappointing” and “surprising incompetent” before commenting that “[Pontif] obviously cares nothing for this nation’s security”. She further said that the SIS was “vital to national security” and that failure to appoint a Director “puts Sanctaria at risk”. She ended her remarks by stating that if Sanctaria is comprised due to faulty or a lack of intelligence, then Pontif is “the one to blame”.

The criticism comes just days after Pontif declined to send the sub-committee a short-list of nominees for the position; Secretary Pontif reasoned that the Senate does not vote to approve the Director of the SIS and thus had no place in the appointment process. Pontif, who served as a diplomat prior to her foray into the political sphere, later confirmed, through a Department spokesperson, that the government’s failure to appoint a new junior Minister for International Security had put their search for a new Director of the SIS back considerably and there is, to date, no short-list to send to the Senate Sub-Committee.

The SIS this morning issued a statement saying that Deputy Director John Newall was currently serving as Director in an acting capacity and that the SIS was operating at 100% efficiency. Its press officer criticised Senator Warren for “sensationalising the situation” and assured the public that the threat level to Sanctaria was “low, and the SIS are doing everything to keep it at that level”.

Brian DeNoble
Defence & Security Correspondent