[EDITORIALS]This doesn’t make sensePresident Roh Moo-hyun’s refusal to lengthen the term of the independent counsel investigating the cash-for-summit allegations is irrelevant. Mr. Roh gave many reasons for his decision, but he ignored the logic of law. Mr. Roh and his administration will have to shoulder the criticism that he considered the governing Millennium Democratic Party’s traditional constituency in arriving at his position.
With the opposition Grand National Party’s promise to draft a new independent counsel bill and to stone wall the nation’s business, the administration will be responsible for the chill that falls over the National Assembly.
In refusing the request for more time, Mr. Roh acted on the assertion that the 15 billion won ($12.5 million) that former Blue House chief of staff, Park Jie-won, received is a separate matter from the money sent to North Korea. But one of the reasons the independent counsel requested an extension was that his office needed to define the nature of the 15 billion won. The independent counsel has determined that there may be a link between the money and the cash-for-summit affair. Then, how is it that Mr. Roh has found that the two cases are separate? Can he really claim that his decision was not a strategic choice with an eye on next year’s National Assembly election?
The justice minister recommended that the independent counsel wind up the investigation. That recommendation reflected the prosecution’s opinion, and was delivered with the awareness that the public is not likely to trust the prosecution, which had said the investigation should be postponed. If the independent counsel cannot successfully complete its investigation because of lack of time, why did the president approved the counsel in the first place? Also, Mr. Roh is quoted as having said that he thought the counsel could not finish the investigation even if its days were extended. That remark begs us to ask whether Mr. Roh was serious about finding the truth at the beginning.
The president’s decision establishes a bad precedent for future independent counsels.