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[Editorial] NIS Should Not Remain As the Government’s Puppet

[Editorial] NIS Should Not Remain As the Government’s Puppet

Posted August. 08, 2005 03:04,   


Ko Young-gu, the first head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) of the current government, just kept giving answers to the question by the National Assembly that there has been no wiretapping since Kim Dae-jung, a former President, took office. During his two-year term of office, he took the initiative of a comprehensive reform of the NIS in terms of its structure, personnel, budget, and other aspects, and launched the “Committee on Development Through Truth Finding of Past Incidents” (the Truth Finding Committee) of the NIS.

Ko was deeply engaged in the reorganization of the inspection department of domestic politics. There is no way that he didn’t know how huge an amount of related budget money was spent. Given that he was in a situation to give answers to the National Assembly, he couldn’t have forgotten the wiretapping issue. Nevertheless, he insists that he didn’t know about wiretapping at all during the Kim administration. Who could believe this?

Mun Jae-in, a senior presidential secretary for civil petitions revealed that he received a report that bugging activities existed under Kim’s rule from Kim Seung-kyu, head of the NIS, in late July, and that President Roh instructed him to make the report public.

The NIS, which had been feigning ignorance, came clean only after receiving Roh’s instruction. This shows paradoxically that there still exists room for the NIS to be a political instrument of the president. There is controversy over how to interpret Roh’s political intention of instructing the NIS to confess to the eavesdropping.

A newspaper reported belatedly, citing a government official, that after granting an appointment letter to Kim, the new head of the NIS, President Roh ordered him to leave the NIS’ function of figuring out policy trends and advising on policies as they are.

It is said that President Roh also mentioned the need to collect information on local irregularities. I think you can read his intention from his remark of using the NIS on internal affairs.

Some suspect that the administration and the NIS may have tuned themselves in considering the fact that the NIS said the wiretapping ended in March 2002. An anonymous person who was a director of the department of science and security in the NIS which conducted wiretapping under the Kim Dae-dung administration and was a senior official at the NIS until recently testified to a reporting team of Dong-A Ilbo on August 6 that illegal bugging activities which actually can be considered wiretapping still continue even now.

NIS director Kim should give clear-cut answers to the allegation. The NIS’ final announcement should be a flawless confession. And then the NIS should undergo an operation to modify itself so that it will not degrade into being the government’s puppet and will get back to its original job of collecting information for national security.