[EDITORIALS]Lies are being toldThe Blue House chief of staff, Park Jie-won, said he has handled the reshuffling of cabinet ministers, senior presidential secretaries and public prosecutors himself, the Grand National Party claimed. "It is nothing but a malicious offensive against me with rumors patched together as reports circulate about the stock market," Mr. Park retorted. The exchange of words between the two sides over the transcripts of alleged wiretapping by the National Intelligence Service goes on almost endlessly. One side is lying. But it is not easy to say who is telling the truth.
Even public opinion is divided along the lines of the two presidential candidates. The confusion is amplified because President Kim Dae-jung remains silent. Suspicion that the intelligence agency has conducted wiretaps can damage the ethics of a government.
President Kim replaced the justice minister and the prosecutor general, blaming them for the death of a suspect during an interrogation in the prosecutors office, labeling it a "miserable incident that can only take place in the dark ages of dictatorship." The standard he used at that time was human rights. Wiretapping is an abuse of power, as is torture, which all democratic societies hate. It is only natural that the same standard that was used to condemn torture should be applied to wiretapping. Moreover, as there are materials suggesting the intelligence agency's involvement in the bugging, the president is responsible for verifying the truth.
Other materials strongly suggest that other power elites of the current administration, such as the senior presidential secretary, Lee Jae-shin, the commissioner of the National Tax Service, defense minister, construction and transportation minister, culture and tourism minister and health welfare minister were tapped. The NIS director, Shin Kun, called them "groundless, mysterious documents."
Eavesdropping by a national agency is a different issue from keeping political neutrality. The GNP should present details on the source of the information if it is to be free from criticism of repeating groundless rumors. President Kim's continued silence will lead to suspicion that he wants the controversy left unresolved.