Thu, Mar 21, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Liu case controversy: Presidential Office source says that Chen knew of leak

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and National Security Bureau (NSB) Director Tsai Chao-ming (蔡朝明) learned on Tuesday that local media had gotten a hold of classified bureau documents, but were unable to stop their publication, sources told the Taipei Times yesterday.

The documents -- which detailed orders by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to the NSB to create a secret fund of NT$3.6 billion to be used for secret diplomatic and intelligence activities that would be outside legislative scrutiny -- were written about in Next magazine (壹週刊) and the China Times (中國時報).

The source said that despite convening emergency meetings, Tsai failed to come up with a plan to stop the publications or to alleviate infighting within the NSB.

"People [hired by the] previous two NSB directors don't see eye to eye with each other and they accused each other of misconduct and blame-shifting. The situation has spiraled out of Tsai's control," said the source.

"The classified documents were apparently leaked by people within the NSB. There is no doubt about that," the source said.

While addressing a ceremony marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the National Defense Management College yesterday, Chen pointed out that there has been a hole in the national defense management mechanism since he took office and it has jeopardized national security.

"In recent years, a series of regretful incidents happened in the national defense system, which shows that our national defense-mechanism is flawed and that our national security system has loopholes.

"A few people's discredited behavior and disloyalty has not only severely damaged the forces' honor and morale, but also threatened national security," the president said.

"I hope everyone can learn a lesson from these incidents and rebuild the forces' dignity, honor and discipline," he added.

In the wake of the coverage of the secret documents, the Presidential Office convened an emergency meeting yesterday morning but refused to comment on the reports.

Presidential Office Spokesman Huang Chih-fang (黃志芳) made a statement around noon stressing that everything would be handled with due respect to legal procedure and that the president is calmly dealing with the situation.

"The Presidential Office has decided to take a legal perspective to dealing with the crisis.

"The investigation of Liu Kuan-chun's (劉冠軍) case is in the hands of the Control Yuan. Questions relating to the fund and accounts are left to the NSB to clarify," Huang said.

"Chen will just discuss his own thoughts at the National Defense Management College speech."

But a senior adviser from the National Security Council cautioned that the media coverage could be a serious blow to the country's intelligence system and diplomacy.

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