[EDITORIALS]Illegal taping is wrongRegarding the illegally recorded surveillance tape made by the National Security Planning Agency that was recently exposed, President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday called for a prompt and thorough investigation by the National Intelligence Service. His comment was made at the conference table with the Blue House chiefs of staff.
Mr. Roh said, “It is shameful and lamentable that a state organ indulged in illegal eavesdropping, although it is in the past,” and added, “The government must thoroughly clear up illegal activities and decisively take measures at once, if there are any measures left to be taken, in order to prevent similar acts from happening.” In particular, Mr. Roh stressed, “What the government must consider important is the illegal activity of a state organ.”
This is an important comment that shows how the president perceives this incident, and we judge his perception to be correct. When illegally obtained information is disclosed in a way that either breaks or evades the law, it stirs up society, obscuring the fact that the eavesdropping was illegal. Therefore, social justice is far from being achieved. Particularly when the social atmosphere is so diffused, social establishments or norms that must control illegality will not be able to work properly.
This is exactly why the law that forbids eavesdropping was enacted, and why information obtained in such a way is recognized as having no value as proof. Also, as Mr. Roh pointed out, the issue of fairness can be raised when only a portion of the material is disclosed.
It has already been reported that the National Security Planning Agency’s eavesdropping team surreptitiously recorded an extensive range of leading figures in society, creating several thousand tapes. There is no guarantee that such tapes will not be disclosed, and if a situation like the current one is repeated every time a revelation is made, society cannot help but become confused.
In the case of this particular incident, once the tape is disclosed, it must be determined whether its contents are true or not. But there must not be a case of double jeopardy.
The investigation into the contents of the tape must not break or evade the law. Everyone watching this episode, from the government to the press to all members of our society, must be more composed.