[EDITORIALS]Things spies should not doThe decision to abolish the powerful anti-communism policy office of the Nation Intelligence Service, which has wielded almost absolute power will be seen as an important step toward a more democratic society. The proper functions and duties of a national intelligence agency, however, should not be blocked by such reform efforts.
Information on the agency, once held in secret, such as organizational structure and manpower, is being made public. We wonder whether this is of national interest. Because of the special nature of their duties, secrecy at intelligence agencies is seen as inevitable in many countries. If the government is too enthusiastic about boasting the results of reform, it could create a situation in which the agency will find it difficult to get cooperation from its overseas counterparts or to pursue anti-communism and counter espionage.
The decision to scale down NIS’s investigations into security related crimes is proper in view of human rights protection. In order not cause the failure of investigations into anti-communism and counter espionage cases, however, sufficient measures should be taken. During the Kim Dae-jung administration, the NIS was hit on its record of catching spies. It should not be used politically.
The department of economic affairs has been given the duty of collecting information overseas on advanced technologies. We wonder whether the announcement will only make the overseas operatives’ activities difficult. In the early days of the last administration, the importance of collecting overseas information was emphasized and this heightened the alertness of other governments. Overseas activities must be promoted by training qualified manpower, not by diverting domestic agents overseas.
The agency banned its agents from visiting political and media organizations. But as their duty to collect information on them still exists, we doubt such surveillance will end. The intelligence agency should not have the duty of establishing Korea as an business hub of East Asia. It does not match the duties of the agency. National spy agencies should not be misused.