Cristina Fernandez
Cristina Fernandez Reuters

Argentine lawmakers on Tuesday began debating President Cristina Kirchner's order to disband the intelligence service, mired in scandal after the suspicious death of a prosecutor who was probing the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center, AFP reported.

Kirchner has ordered the overhaul of the Intelligence Secretariat, known as the SI, and the creation of a new Federal Intelligence Agency (FIA) that would have reduced wiretapping powers and would wield less influence on certain political cases.

The government is hoping the measure will garner broad support and win approval in both houses within a month.

Tuesday saw two Senate commissions discussing the order. The leadership of the new agency will be chosen by the president, but subject to Senate approval.

SI chief Oscar Parrilli, whom the president named in December, defended the planned changes and slammed opposition members for walking out to show their disagreement, according to AFP.

The FIA will address "complex federal crimes such as terror ism, drug trafficking, people trafficking" without engaging in domestic intelligence work "unless national security is endangered."

Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, 51, was found in his Buenos Aires home with a gunshot to the head on January 18, the day before he was to go before a congressional hearing to accuse Kirchner of obstructing his investigation into the unsolved bombing of the Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association that left 85 people dead.

Nisman had accused Kirchner and her foreign minister Hector Timerman of shielding Iranian officials implicated in the bombing. On Tuesday it was reported that he had drafted arrest warrants for both before his death.

 After his death, Kirchner suggested Nisman had been manipulated by former intelligence agents who then killed him to smear her. Kirchner has offered no evidence to support her theory, and did not say who she thought was behind Nisman's death.

Investigators have said Nisman's death appeared to be suicide, but it has been classified as a suspicious death, and homicide or an "induced suicide" have not been ruled out.

Kirchner has said intelligence reform is a "debt to democracy" and that the SI agency was still operating with agents and methods dating back to the 1976-1983 dictatorship.