Stop damaging national interests

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Stop damaging national interests

The National Assembly has embarked on a 45-day investigation into the allegations on the National Intelligence Service’s meddling in the last presidential election through an online slander campaign. It will delve into the spy agency’s role in influencing public opinion and other issues.

The legislative probe, which will conclude on Aug. 15, may not be entirely different from past cases which lawmakers used for their political vendettas. The investigation involves the explosive theme of the national spy agency and the police interfering in a presidential election. The probe also coincides with the controversy over the NIS release of a confidential dialogue during the 2007 inter-Korean summit. The ruling and opposition parties are more hostile towards each other than during the campaign season.

The signs are not good. The two rival parties are wrangling over the organization of the investigation committee. The ruling Saenuri Party is against the idea of including Democratic Party representatives Kim Hyun and Jin Sun-mee for their involvement in raiding the residence of a female NIS staff, accusing her of conducting an online slander campaign against DP presidential candidate Moon Jae-in. The DP is opposed to including in the committee Saenuri Party members Chung Moon-hun and Lee Cheol-woo, who were first to disclose the transcript of the dialogue between South Korean leader Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The two parties are expected to clash over which government agencies and officials to summon as well as the scope of investigation. But they must stop their fighting to put an end to the political influence of the spy agency. The election ended six months ago and the case is still ongoing.

The legislature also should wisely deal with their demand to the National Archives to hand over the original transcript of the dialogue records during the 2007 summit. The leadership of the ruling and opposition parties said the archives should go public to clarify the controversy over comments Roh made about the Northern Limit Line to Kim Jong-il. The ruling and opposition parties complicated the matter by adding twists and interpretations on the comments in their favor. But the disclosure from the National Archives won’t solve the problem. Both will likely clash over who should have access to the records and what to disclose.

But disclosure may be inevitable since an overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted in favor of a bill demanding access to the original transcript. Both parties must avert any further damage on our national interests.
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