[EDITORIALS]Intelligent intelligenceThe Blue House has decided on one of the candidates for the post of director of the National Intelligence Service, and the most important selection criterion was reform-mindedness. Although the director of the NIS is a position that requires a high standard of expertise in intelligence work, reform-minded took priority over expert knowledge. This can be interpreted as an expression of presidential will to restructure the agency thoroughly. The director-designate must assume the additional duty of reforming the agency at a time when the importance of the agency’s function of keeping national security away from internal and external threats, including the North Korean nuclear crisis, grows bigger.
Neither of these job attributes can be neglected, however. Since the director-designate is not an intelligence expert, his deputies should be selected from among intelligence specialists. If that’s accomplished, it will be possible for the new director to pursue his specialty of restructuring the organization and reshaping the operation of the agency, while the agency keeps performing its inherent duties.
The NIS, which caters to the political needs of the powerful, has wielded near absolute power in all fields. It is proper that the new government is determined to straighten out old problems of the NIS. The essence of NIS reform lies in abolishing its surveillance of politicians and in streamlining its structure. For political surveillance, illegal wiretapping, which required large manpower as well as budget support, was necessary. The director-designate must rid the service of such undesirable tasks.
At the same time, he must work out plans that can maximize national interest by restoring the agency’s original function of collecting intelligence for our national security. Under the previous government, this function was neglected and the agency’s existence was questioned. The NIS should be reshaped to its original duty of intelligence gathering.