National Security Bureau (NSB) director Tsai Tsao-ming (蔡朝明) yesterday said that the bureau has begun instituting plans for the formation of a legislative committee to oversee intelligence.
Tsai said the plans were in line with recent legislative proposals to better monitor the NSB and its subordinate agencies.
"We have asked specialists from the German Bundestag [parliament] to come and consult with local lawmakers about how a legislative intelligence committee should operate," Tsai said.
Tsai said that the NSB is also examining regulations by which US Congressional intelligence committees operate, and -- hinting at the issue of trust -- noted that the rules are "very strict."
"According to the regulations, each member of the intelligence committee has to undergo a personal property investigation, a lie-detector test and a loyalty check. The member must also ensure that no information he or she learns in the committee will be leaked and that, if it is, he or she must face legal punishment," he said.
Tsai made the remarks yesterday at the legal committee of the legislature as part of his response to inquiries from lawmakers about his views of the proposal to establish an intelligence committee at the legislature.
Proposals to create a committee for intelligence oversight often appear when the intelligence community is found to have problems.
The issue was raised again recently after the Control Yuan sought to impeach two former NSB directors, including Yin Chung-wen (殷宗文) and Ting Yu-chou (丁渝洲), for the misappropriation of funds from a special NSB account by an ex-chief cashier during their terms in office.
Over the past week, according to Chinese-language media reports, an NSB deputy director has visited several major newspapers to share views with editors-in-chief on the issue.
During the visits, the NSB provided written material on what it has done to make the intelligence committee proposal a reality.
NSB officials said, for example, that in Germany and the US, legislative intelligence committees have the right not only to monitor the operations of intelligence agencies, including their budgets and intelligence gathering activities, but also to approve of the appointment of intelligence chiefs.
The officials emphasized again, however, that these rights are enjoyed on the basis that committee members do not compromise information they are privy to.
The rights and responsibilities of intelligence committee members have to be protected and bound by law.