[EDITORIALS]An ugly crime and cover-upProsecutors are to seek an arrest warrant for Kim Eun-seong, deputy chief of the National Intelligence during the Kim Dae-jung government, on charges of violating the Protection of Communications Secrets Act. Mr. Kim is known to have admitted that illegal wiretapping by the National Intelligence Service continued after Kim Dae-jung entered the Blue House in 1998. Mr. Kim reportedly told prosecutors that he decided that “he had to conduct wiretapping to be of service to his bosses.” This means that the wiretapping was systematic and initiated by leaders of the intelligence agency under the Kim Dae-jung administration. It is also known that the information learned by the wiretapping was used politically. Whenever suspicions arose about illegal eavesdropping, information ministers and others published advertisements saying that it was impossible to listen in on cell phone conversations. Those ads were just shabby lies to hide illegal tapping.
Nevertheless, former President Kim’s supporters still say wiretapping was never approved by senior policymakers in his administration. Considering the status of the National Intelligence Service in our government, it seems impossible for the deputy head of the service to order wiretapping on his own authority. His superior, the agency chief, must have been aware of the illegal eavesdropping. Also, it is reasonable to assume that the information gathered by that surveillance was delivered to the president. Former President Kim deserves criticism for such illegal practices despite his public advocacy of human rights. The recent attempt at collective action by former intelligence chiefs in protest against investigations and announcements about wiretapping by current leaders of the agency can now be seen to be just a failed attempt to hide the truth.
President Roh Moo-hyun also has to explain why he said last August, “There was no such fault that an administration must be responsible for [in the Kim Dae-jung era].” We are curious about what made the president reach that conclusion.
Wiretapping is an ugly crime. There must be a thorough investigation to ease concerns that it may still be going on. Prosecutors must not hesitate to investigate those who ordered wiretapping, those who received reports about the information in the wiretaps and political figures who make evil use of that information. That includes chief spies ― and presidents.