Spy agency must reform, do its jobThe opposition camp plans to jointly introduce a bill to launch a special investigation into the alleged meddling by the National Intelligence Service and the government in the last presidential race. The joint action comes after the Ministry of National Defense concluded that its Cyber Warfare Command officials were not involved in the NIS-led online smear campaign against opposition presidential candidates. The opposition’s plans raise questions over whether the legislature should seek a separate investigation into allegations while a state prosecutors’ probe is still ongoing.
Democratic Party head Kim Han-gill, minority Justice Party Chairman Chun Ho-sun and independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo held a joint press conference criticizing the ongoing prosecution probe for its lack of results in uncovering the truth behind the previous administration’s intervention in the last presidential race, believed to involve the spy agency, Veterans’ Ministry and the Cyber Warfare Command. The also suspect the incumbent government has covered up and interfered in the prosecution investigation. Kim warned that if President Park Geun-hye and the ruling Saenuri Party resist demands for an independent investigation into these affairs, they could face serious protests. Yoon Sang-hyun, deputy floor leader of the Saenuri Party, claimed the bill is a veiled challenge to the presidential election outcome.
The special probe was part of a bipartisan agreement to reform the state spy agency. Four ruling and opposition party representatives held a meeting earlier this month agreeing to form a special committee to map out reforms to the NIS. They added a clause to the agreement that they would continue to discuss the timing and scope of special probe. What should come first are discussions on the design and framework of NIS reforms before they decide to probe the agency’s past irregular activities. The special committee is working to come up with a draft of the reforms by Tuesday. But it remains unclear if they can reach consensus by the set date given disagreements on multiple issues. If the committee falls apart, the bipartisanship necessary to pass next year’s budget bills and other laws on the economy could be delayed.
Democratizing and modernizing the spy agency is the most important task for our political system. North Korea has become more unpredictable following the purge and execution of former No. 2 man Jang Song-thaek. The spy agency must stop meddling in domestic political affairs and concentrate its resources on North Korea. The ruling and opposition should do all they can to help the special committee reach a productive agreement.