March 21, 2011:
On March 15th, Egypt disbanded the hated SSIS (State Security Investigation Service). Combining the functions of the American CIA (foreign intelligence) and FBI (domestic intelligence), the SSIS had unlimited power when it came to dealing with enemies domestic and foreign, especially in intelligence matters.
This organization has been around, in one form or another, for over half a century. In the last three decades its main job has been keeping the Mubarak family in power. To that end, SSIS took the lead in suppressing Islamic radicals in the 1990s. Since then, SSIS has gone after reformers and those seeking a true democracy in Egypt. SSIS members were above the law, and they basically reported only to former president Hosni Mubarak. The SSIS failed in suppressing the recent popular uprising that drove Mubarak out of power, even though it was able to call on the police and military. The cops and soldiers refused to help, or help enough to matter. The SSIS, in the end, had made too many enemies.
How many people work of SSIS is unknown, but may eventually be revealed as seized records are analyzed. At least 47 SSIS personnel have already been arrested for destroying documents. These probably included personnel records, but even without all the documents on manpower, it's known that SSIS tapped many phones and ran a huge informant network that had sources within the government as well as the population at large. This may prove embarrassing, or worse, for many Egyptians, if the names of all the informants come out. Despite the fact that many people were coerced to become informants, many others did it for the money, or government favors. But the informers are a small minority within Egypt, and most Egyptians wanted the secret police gone.
This may be a short term advantage for Islamic terror organizations, which the SSIS monitored. There is a smaller military intelligence organization that can take up some of the slack here. But a new national intelligence agency will be needed. Egyptians don't want to leave that to the military, as it gives generals more incentive, and ability, to take control of the government.