Thu, Mar 21, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Liu case controversy: Lawmakers want more oversight of spy agency

SECRETS:While legislators from across the political spectrum agree on the need for better intelligence oversight, they disagree over what to do about the latest allegations

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The scandal plaguing the National Security Bureau (NSB) yesterday prompted lawmakers to call for legal measures to prevent a repeat of alleged malfeasance by intelligence officials.

But legislative caucuses differ on how to tackle allegations by former NSB cashier Liu Kuan-chun (劉冠軍) that the bureau stole money from state coffers to help sponsor its intelligence work.

The Liu scandal has already led to the resignation of former national security advisers Yin Tsung-wen (殷宗文) and Ting Yu-chou (丁渝洲), both of whom held top executive posts in the NSB when Liu's alleged misdeeds took place.

The DPP raised doubts over the accuracy of the news report but acknowledged the need to enact or revise legislation to ensure the bureau's sound and responsible functioning.

"The uproar provided the NSB with an opportunity to reflect upon its operations," said DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘). "I hope the bureau will learn from its mistake and reform itself accordingly."

Ker said he doubted the accuracy of the press stories, noting that Liu is still a fugitive from justice.

Ker said, however, that the incident attested to the necessity of intelligence laws and the need for a legislative intelligence committee to supervise the agency.

Fellow DPP legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) agreed, saying he would push for passage of related legislation before the session ends in the summer.

He urged the media to exercise restraint to avoid harming national security.

"The disclosed intelligence will harm the ties between Taiwan and the South Africa," Lee warned. "We hope no leaks will be printed that may threaten ties between Taipei and Washington."

"The Executive Yuan should form a crisis-management panel and probe into the controversy to prevent its getting out of control," KMT legislative whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) said.

He also demanded an explanation from the Cabinet, saying that the executive branch has been fooling the legislature about its spending.

"I wonder how many more secrets the government has been hiding from the legislature," Lin said. Under budgetary rules, government agencies must turn in all budget surpluses along with a written account of expenditure.

Since 1994, the NSB has pocketed any surpluses and turned them into secret funds to help finance various covert assignments, according to Liu.

PFP legislative leader Diane Lee (李慶安) said her caucus received two disks from Liu that required four sets of pass codes to access the information.

She said the PFP turned the disks over to investigators and suggested a special committee be established to take over the probe.

Her colleague Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) suspected that Liu was not the only culprit in the scandal. Without help, Liu could not have fled the country, he pointed out.

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