[FORUM]Whose secrets are hidden now?

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[FORUM]Whose secrets are hidden now?

Dear Moon Hee-sang, chairman of the Uri Party,
Do you remember? It was about six years ago, during the former President Kim Dae-jung administration. You were the chief of the planning and coordination office of the National Intelligence Service. I think it was at a high school alumni meeting that I met you. You mentioned at that time that right after you became the No. 3 man at the national intelligence agency, you saw your own file: the records of intelligence reports on you compiled at the spy agency. You said you were surprised to find the transcripts of your conversations that the spy agency had bugged. You said one transcript was of a conversation you had for nearly three hours at a Korean restaurant. At that time you were still in the opposition party.
This is what you told me: “They wrote down the conversation in such detail, word for word, that I could almost tell when I had stopped to take a breath.” Then you went on in our conversation, criticizing the government of former President Kim Young-sam.
You ended by saying that there was no more illegal bugging under the Kim Dae-jung government. You said that eavesdropping was abolished under presidential orders. It didn’t sound like a lie then, and I still don’t think it was a lie. Why? If you had intended to tell a lie, you wouldn’t have brought up the topic of secret recordings in the first place. After all, it was an organizational secret. It wouldn’t make sense for you to reveal the agency’s secrets to outsiders. I’m sure you talked about it because you thought it was all over. However, it now appears that you were tricked, too. I don’t know whether you found it out afterwards, but at least you didn’t know at the time.
So how about now? The opposition parties are barraging you with criticism. They suspect that you were a part of the current wiretapping scandal, and they cite as proof the recent announcement by the National Intelligence Service, which admitted that it was still monitoring people’s conversations under the Kim Dae-jung administration. Therefore, your critics say that it does not make sense that you, the planning and coordination chief of the spy agency, didn’t know about the wiretapping, because you were in charge of the organization’s budget planning and execution. The rational conclusion is that you must have known about the wiretapping budget. Yet you deny this, saying that you did not know what was happening in the room next door. I’m sure this isn’t completely false. After all, that’s the way an intelligence organizations is operated, and the same goes for its budget. The budget at an intelligence organization is surely different from that of other government offices, and the planning and coordination chief does not necessarily know everything. I do not doubt that. I believe the truth will come out in time.
That is not the problem. Right now, your party suggests that we enact a special law to force the agency to release all of its secret recordings. In other words, you want the agency to expose everything. However, there are problems with exposing everything ― I am not talking about a violation of the constitution. That is a problem that should be left to legal experts. I am talking about the problem of transparency and political balance. It seems that you feel that it would be okay if your tapes were revealed, which is probably why you agree with exposing the contents of the tapes. How could one make such a judgment? You probably have already seen the transcripts of the recordings of you. What about the people who have not seen theirs? They wouldn’t dare to support a law demanding the release of the recordings. How then were you able to see yours? It is because you are on the side of political power.
The influence this power wields is quite strong. We can imagine it would be possible for someone to select which content would be revealed and which would remain hidden under the table, and without anyone’s knowledge. Of course, I’m sure this probably wouldn’t happen. However, think of the way power in Korea has been used in the past. It would have been possible then, and that’s why people will suspect it is now. People will do so because they think of power as it was used in the past: the power that carried out the illegally wiretaps. Therefore, people will not believe that all the recordings have been released, no matter how transparent the process might be. That brings about another problem.
Think of the side that has no power ― how scared it must be. Its members probably cannot sleep at night. First of all, they do not know which of their conversations were bugged. On top of that, they are opposing those in power, which is the main reason why they were bugged in the first place. So what is the conclusion? Isn’t it that we should obey those with power? That can’t be it, and of course, I believe that that is not the intention of the proposed law anyway. Nevertheless, people might reach such outrageous conclusions.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that we should cover up everything, including the “X-file” in question. It has already been illegally exposed. However, it is not right to expose other recordings simply because the X-file has already been exposed. The government talks about balance, but it is not right to talk about balancing the release of secret recordings. The release of the recordings is illegal.
I understand the intention of those who support the proposal. They want things done in the past cleared up. However, this isn’t the way to straighten things out. Let’s leave it to history to judge. All actions have reactions. There is no exception. That is how today comes to us, and tomorrow will come in the same way, too. It is when all these things come together that history is made.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Lee Youn-hong
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