[EDITORIALS]Let the prosecutors workWith prosecutors’ investigation of the National Security Planning Agency’s wiretapping during the 1990s getting into full swing, the Uri Party announced yesterday that it was considering launching a separate investigation. The governing party wants to form a “truth commission,” with private citizens participating, and let that commission decide whether the seized surveillance tapes and transcripts should be made public. The commission would decide the direction of the investigation, and the standards by which tapes would be made public.
The party says a separate investigation is needed because prosecutors are personally involved in this case. Some senior prosecutors, both past and current, are said to be mentioned in some of the tapes.
Considering the amount of public attention this case has received, it should be made clear how the illegal eavesdropping was carried out, and how the tapes and transcripts were used. But it is premature to talk about another investigation while the prosecutor’s probe is underway. The prosecution has legal authority here. If we are to establish a new investigative body whenever suspicions are raised, prosecutors will have little reason to exist.
Confusion will be inevitable if a new investigation begins while the prosecution’s is underway. The Uri Party says the truth commission would operate separately. But the tapes that this commision would supposedly decide whether to make public are the very objects of the prosecutors’ investigation. Though the commission’s members would be obliged to keep the tapes’ contents secret, it is questionable how long that secrecy would be honored.
How the commission’s members would be selected is another problem. If the president or the National Assembly intervenes, it would create a political misunderstanding, because the tapes’ political impact and destructive power is potentially enormous. As a former spy agency official warned, “Everyone but the president was subject to surveillance. If the contents were made public, politics, the economy and society could collapse. The tapes are like nuclear bombs.”
The prosecutors must investigate the case in a thorough and fair manner so that no further digging will be needed once they are through. The question of appointing a special prosecutor or other investigative body should be considered only after they have finished their work.
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