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Roh Stands Behind NIS’s Information Collecting

Posted July. 18, 2007 04:00,   


It was confirmed yesterday that the director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) attended the meeting of the Anti-Corruption Council by order of President Roh Moo-hyun as part of the Corruption Eradicating Task Force’s activities of collecting information related to corruptive practices.

A source from the National Commission for Social Integrity, which oversees the operation of Anti-Corruption Council, said, “The regulation of the Anti-Corruption Council that came to effect in January 2004 by the instruction of the president was revised in November 2005, which permits the director of the NIS to attend the meeting,” adding, “This was made by order of President Roh, who viewed that the NIS should share information because the council is a representative national body that leads the anti-corruption activities.”

The source also said, “Even though the NIS director is allowed to be present as an attendee because of the special position as chief executive officer of a national agency, they were treated almost like council members.” According to the regulation that was revised in November 2005, the high-ranking NIS officers are permitted to attend working-level talks in the Anti-Corruption Council.

Responding to recent criticism against its taskforce team for the covert inspection of real estate information related to Kim Jae-jeong, brother-in-law of the former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak, the NIS announced last Friday, “Since the regulation of the Anti-Corruption Council allows the NIS director to attend the council meeting, it is permissible for the NIS to ask for cooperation from government organizations to facilitate information collection for anti-corruption activities,” adding, “In general, the information we obtained from this process is also used to help the investigation of the prosecution and the police.”

Since the instruction of the president is the only law that permits the NIS director to take part in “anti-corruption activities,” it is conceivable that the president stands behind the NIS’ activities of collecting corruption information that is under criticism for overstepping the boundary of its authority.

The recent statement of Cheon Ho-seon, the presidential spokesman who advocated for the NIS activities, also adds to this conviction. Cheon said Monday, “It is very desirable for the NIS to collect information related to corruption and help the investigation of other national agencies.”

However, given the fact that the NIS has already run the Corruption Eradicating Task Force since May 2004, it is still up in the air whether the NIS has sought a way to exceed the boundary of its authority that is defined by the National Intelligence Service Act.

In the Anti-Corruption Council that was established in January 2004, the president serves as chairman, and the council members are chairman of the National Commission for Social Integrity, chairman of the Civil Service Commission, minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, chairman of Korea Fair Trade Commission, chairman of Financial Supervisory Commission, minister of Justice, minister of Defense, minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs, prosecutor general, commissioner of the National Tax Service, commissioner of Korea Customs Service, commissioner of Police Agency, presidential civic affairs secretary. Also, the NIS director and chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection are allowed to be present at the council in the status of attendees.

Meanwhile, Cheon denied that Cheong Wa Dae was aware of the NIS’s operation of taskforce team, saying, “Cheong Wa Dae knew that the NIS runs the taskforce team for the eradication of corruption when the case related to Kim Jae-jeong was reported.”