Former National Security Council (NSC) deputy secretary-general Chang Jung-feng (張榮豐) yesterday criticized current council head King Pu-tsung’s (金溥聰) visits last month to local intelligence units, calling them the beginning of the collapse of the national security system.
Chang’s criticism follows former council secretary-general Ting Yu-chou’s (丁渝洲) comments a day earlier accusing King of over-reaching his authority and questioning President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) over-reliance on his confidants.
To understand the gravity of King’s actions requires an understanding of how the presidential decisionmaking process works, Chang said.
The council, formally institutionalized on Dec. 30, 1993, is patterned after the US’ National Security Council — a government body that aids the president in policy and decisionmaking, Chang said.
The presidential decisionmaking process consists of four steps: analyzing the problem; coming up with possible solutions; making the decision; and executing and supervising it, he said.
The council’s role involves the first two, which is to aid the president in making decisions on cross-strait, national defense and diplomatic affairs, Chang said, adding that during former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) term, it was strictly forbidden for the council to intervene in domestic affairs.
The fact that the council is responsible only for problem analysis and offering potential solutions — but not decisionmaking — is the reason it is called an “aiding and counseling” body, Chang said.
Chang said the decisionmaking process is completed by the president holding a national security conference. After reaching a decision, the president would then appoint an official to oversee policy implementation. The person in charge — who might be the NSC secretary-general, the premier, or the Mainland Affairs Council minister — varies in accordance with the nature of the mission.
The NSC would need, for problem-solving, the ministries, other councils and the National Security Bureau (NSB) to provide information about the mission or policy, Chang said, adding that the NSB in turn has six major intelligence units responsible for gathering information.
All information would be processed and appraised by the NSB for the president to make decisions and for the NSC to analyze the problem.
Chang said that if King could “visit” the six major intelligence units whenever he wants to just to show them “who’s the boss,” that would be interference with the functions of the other units.
This could give rise to inter-unit infighting as some attempt to curry favor with the “boss,” which in turn would hamper their ability to fight the nation’s real enemies, he said.
With a weakened intelligence system, the NSC, Ma and King would be on the receiving end of a torrent of information that they, without the requisite skills, would be unable to handle and process, rendering the information useless, he said.