Often considered the least effective intelligence service of the Inner Sphere, SAFE is the intelligence agency of the Free Worlds League. Nevertheless it managed to carry out several missions against the Lyran Commonwealth and the Capellan Confederation.
SAFE frankly fails as a repressive instrument of the State. It is far too vulnerable to Parliamentary oversight to be an effective tool of dissent repression. Speaking of which, the FWL has by far the most open popular dissent due to diversity, strength of local authorities, lack of unitary centralized government, respect for individual rights and so on. Those dissident movements make excellent cover and local sources for enemy agents of all stripes and leave SAFE at a severe disadvantage when it comes to weeding out enemy operatives. Even more to the point, and Covert Operations made it clear, SAFE as an institution lacks the “fire in the belly,” the institutionalized ruthlessness and disregard of morality that marks the other House services. It is much more reluctant (due to those institutional restraints) to take radical action in pursuit of its ends and is more prone to hesitate when it comes to dealing in lives. Now SAFE does have assassination squads (and in the 29th century they were considered rather good) and the FWL does have relatively effective paramilitary terrorist forces (the frequently forgotten Liberation Units, though they seem to be under Military Intelligence, itself a forgotten institution, rather than SAFE) and it has engaged in violent repression of dissent (under Gerald and Marion Marik) but on the whole… it lacks conspicuous effectiveness at terrorizing enemies of House Marik at home or abroad, and lacks the risk-taking mentality that brought LIC and MIIO/DMI so much success in placing their own moles and operatives.
What it does do well is Analysis. SAFE has an entire branch, its largest and best funded, devoted to analyzing information. It directs the operations of the espionage branch directly and can decide its own priorities. Like most real intelligence agencies it can make great use of “open source” information picked up by monitoring services in other states to build good long-term trend pictures. The FWL was the only enemy state to go to military readiness in response to the Davion-Steiner “exercises” being held before Hanse’s wedding, for example. The problem is that this kind of analysis is neither sexy nor dramatic, nor likely to produce high-level breakthroughs that change the course of history. SAFE keeps Marik policy-makers well informed of what trends and capabilities are, but has serious problems with determining the intentions of foreign states. It is also not good at all in dealing with subversion or dissent, though as Intelligence Operations noted, the sheer volume of information spawned at all levels of the League is a kind of defense. Foreign intelligence agencies often can’t determine what is or is not accurate and important amid the vast flood of rumors, innuendo, opinion, and leaks out of Atreus and all the provincial capitals.