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[Editorial] Search and Seizure of the NIS Should Not End up as a Showing-Off

[Editorial] Search and Seizure of the NIS Should Not End up as a Showing-Off

Posted August. 20, 2005 03:04,   


The Prosecution seized and searched the National Intelligence Service (NIS) yesterday to secure tangible evidence for the recent scandal over “wiretapping by the NIS and the Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP),” which is the predecessor of the NIS. The reason why the intelligence agency, which has so far been considered a “sanctuary,” even became subject to search and seizure is that the outcome of the NIS self-investigation was unsatisfactory. Some insiders of the NIS reportedly fear that national intelligence capabilities might be exposed due to the investigation. Seizing and searching an agency that committed the crime of wiretapping, however, is an inevitable enforcement of the law.

Now all eyes are on whether prosecutors can verify every single detail of the illegal wiretapping. Confessing its eavesdropping efforts, the NIS announced that it “had already scrapped relevant equipment and documents when the bugging was suspended in March 2002.” The other day, President Roh seemed to be presupposing the outcome of the investigation when he said, “There are no wrongdoings for which the administration should take responsibility.” The obstacles against verification of the truth are seemingly quite huge.

Under such circumstances, what is most important is the prosecution’s strong commitment to the investigation. At least in order to relieve the political dispute over eavesdropping, prosecutors should disclose every truth of the past wiretapping efforts conducted by any administration at any time. Only when it does so would the prosecution be able to wipe out the national distrust caused by some prosecutors regarding its investigation into wiretapping. If it continuously tries to read the government’s mind, however, it would not be able to avoid criticism that ultimately this time’s seizure and search efforts were another example of showing-off.

The NIS should change course from its passive attitude after its confession of wiretapping and actively cooperate with the investigation. The pressing need for the NIS is to persuade former and current bureau directorial-level officials, who have so far been refusing the prosecution’s subpoenas, to accept the investigation. Whether or not the illicit wiretapping was included in their duties is a matter that should be discussed later in court. Now the priority should be the clearing up of suspicions over who ordered the eavesdropping efforts, whether there are additional undisclosed wiretapped tapes, as well as other clarifications.

Revelation of the past irregularities by the NIS is an essential process for such things not to be repeated in the future. In this regard, the NIS should not feel embarrassed about the prosecution’s search and seizure, but rather, it should take this opportunity to be born again as a government agency that wins the trust of the people.