[EDITORIALS]Another smoking gun

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[EDITORIALS]Another smoking gun

A Grand National Party lawmaker exposed documents suggesting that the National Intelligence Service may have intervened in the 2000 general election. Despite the agency's denial of the existence of such papers, there are reasons for politicians to raise a ruckus over the issue. President Kim Dae-jung changed the name of the agency from the National Security Planning Agency to the National Intelligence Service, after inauguration, proclaiming that the nation's intelligence arm will never intervene in politics. However, its political neutrality has never been well observed since then. A few months after the inauguration of President Kim, a National Intelligence Service report emerged indicating clear signs of its intervention in politics. It showed that the agency provided funds to politicians through Chin Seung-hyeon, a jailed venture capitalist, and its domestic intelligence chief briefed Kwon Roh-kap, a senior adviser of the Millennium Democratic Party, on intelligence reports. Due to the report, even the public was made aware of the supposedly evil practices of the agency.

The two documents, "Reference Material for Analyzing Electoral Districts" and "Report on the Recruitment of Influential Businessmen in Each Electoral District," clearly show the agency's intervention in the election. The advice, which recommends a third candidate in case the current candidate is not competitive, is obvious evidence.

Chun Yong-taek, then NIS director, denied that the agency had been mobilized for political purposes. But Won Hee-ryong, a GNP lawmaker, was confident that he could produce additional material to support his claims, saying he acquired them from an NIS official who worked under the jailed domestic intelligence chief.

As allegations made by interested parties contradict each other, the prosecution should clarify the truth, keeping strict neutrality in its investigations. The NIS should also investigate the source of the documents, as there is a possibility that one of its departments could have been involved in clandestine activities. By verifying suspicions of political intervention, the tainted image of the agency will be recovered and its will to keep political neutrality in the coming presidential election will be confirmed.
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