The Shen'Tlar is the central intelligence agency of the Folan Star Empire. It resembles the Section 18 to some degree, but has remained in operation for a significantly longer period of time and has a unique role in matters of the Folan state.
The mission of the agency has changed during the course of its existence. Originally it was created to make sure that the government stays true to the people and that the people remain loyal to the government. Most of the time it worked and prevented dictators from raising to power, although some considered it an organization that inherently limits freedom.
Officially, the Shen'Tlar does not use force against Folan citizens, but it's unclear what happens unofficially. However, not many people in the Folan empire oppose this organization, and those that do have been able to express their opinions freely, gaining some support over the years.
As an Intelligence Agency
Later on the Shen'Tlar took on the role of an intelligence agency as well. The former observers of the people became agents and spies against other governments. It is rumored that Shen'Tlar has some influence in every major government and that they have some ties with the other intelligence networks, especially the Section 18. They've also been known to help the Resistance in their efforts through unofficial channels, but this hasn't seem to hurt their relationship to Section 18. It is believed that the intelligence networks of the Shen'Tlar are possible the biggest in the galaxy and reach out to everywhere in known space. It is even rumored that the Shen'Tlar conducts its own exploration missions to establish bases and plant spies among potential first contact species.
As a Police Force
The Shen'Tlar also works as an internal police force. It investigates any possible crimes committed against the Folan citizens, although very little of those occur in the Folan Empire. The Shen'Tlar have two representatives in the Folan senate; these people do not lead the Shen'Tlar, but belong in its "board of directors". The main head is always the Folan senate, but the consul has very little of power over the Shen'Tlar, mainly because the Shen'Tlar is the main organization that is constantly observing the consul's actions. The only power the consul has over Shen'Tlar is through the senate, but this requires the senate's support. To eliminate the Shen'Tlar you need to have the support of the majority of the senate, the military and the public vote. Shen'Tlar can replace the consul if the senate agrees or if the people desire so. Senate can be changed if the majority of the people desire that to be happened. How this majority is determined can sometimes be vague, but the Folan people have never openly objected to the decisions of the Shen'Tlar, even when it means overthrowing the senate.
The Shen'Tlar is lead by nine people, in a sort of "board of directors". These people control the several branches of the Shen'Tlar and make all the major decisions together. Research, espionage, police force, telepath control, the people's observation, leader observation and military observation are the branches in the Shen'Tlar. Leader of each of these branches is part of the "board of directors" as well as the ones representing the Shen'Tlar in the senate.
The Research branch does some of it own research, usually relating to espionage, telepathic technology or some forms of observation. Usually all the projects are done with the Folan Empire's official research division, though there are always rumors of secret projects that range from bioweapons to xylitol weapons.
Espionage branch controls all affairs with foreign powers. Not much is known how this part really operates. However, it is known to be extremely large and have operatives also outside of Folans. There are also several surgically altered Folans working as agents.
Police force makes sure order stays on all the member worlds. The police branch is heavily connected with the espionage branch.
Telepathic control makes sure that telepathic powers are not misused and it also advances and studies the telepathic powers. All telepaths must be registered to the Shen'Tlar registry.
Observations departments handle the observation tasks given to them. They observe the ones they have to the way they choose fit, but there are certain rules that they cannot break while making their observations.
The Shen'Tlar operates its own independent military force. These forces are not under the command of the military and can only be commanded either by the Shen'Tlar itself or the senate. Shen'Tlar also has partial control of military vessels, that is they can be placed under Shen'Tlar control whenever it is deemed necessary. Shen'Tlar officers assigned onboard military starships are only partially under the command of the commander of the ship. They can defy orders if it's either deemed harmful towards the people or violates some Shen'Tlar code. These Shen'Tlar officers can also take command of the starship in question if the commanding officer is found unfit for command and no other command personnel are able to take command, or when Shen'Tlar requires the command of the vessel. This happens only rarely though.
As there are always at least one Shen'Tlar operative aboard every military capital ship there is some distrust among the Shen'Tlar and military personnel.