[EDITORIALS]Needed: pure intelligenceThe Roh Moo-hyun administration and the opposition party, which have clashed sharply over the appointment of the director and the head of planning and coordination of the National Intelligence Service, are again at loggerheads. This time, the two are sparring over the direction of reform. The opposition party’s dogged drive to submit a bill to abolish the service is the result of President Roh’s intransigence in his appointments. The only way for the government to revamp the agency that had prevailed as an indomitable power agency, while addressing the recent rift, is to remold the service into a pure intelligence agency, akin to that of advanced nations.
The core of reform should be to institutionalize the service into a pure intelligence agency that collects and analyzes domestic and foreign information. Relevant personnel allocation should take place so that counterintelligence, or anti-communist activities that are vital to us, is carried out efficiently. In that same vein, the intelligence agency’s capacity to gather intelligence from abroad, cooperate with allied nations’ intelligence agencies to maximize national interest should be strengthened. In addition, the intelligence agency’s anti-terror and anti-narcotics activities should be stepped up.
Once such a blueprint becomes definitive, the government can determine the relevant number of personnel for the agency. But preceding the blueprint is the billowing speculation about a sweeping reshuffle of senior NIS officials. If the report is true that the new leadership will reduce the powers of the office of domestic intelligence, and transfer them to the office of foreign intelligence, we are worried. That may lead to yet another derailment of the NIS operations.
Before taking on a reform of the NIS, the government should seek ways to obtain cooperation from the opposition. Such actions will have a preventive measure of forestalling guessing and doubting that the new administration is merely talking reform, but in effect, using the information for political purposes. The opposition, for its part, should assume a bipartisan manner, and drop its demands for abolishing the NIS.