Wed, Mar 27, 2002 - Page 3 News List

PFP outlines plans to protect state secrets

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The recent exposure of classified intelligence documents continued to grip the legislature yesterday, as lawmakers introduced a bill calling for the establishment of a standing committee to oversee the National Security Bureau (NSB).

PFP legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), who sponsored the bill, said he envisioned a committee of 10 members that will be empowered to review the bureau's spending and intelligence-gathering activities.

"We find it necessary to bring the intelligence agency under legislative oversight to help make it more accountable," Liu told reporters.

To that end, his bill proposed creating a new regular committee that will restrict its membership to 10 lawmakers from across party lines to ensure its confidential and neutral functioning.

Last week, the legislative caucuses had agreed to form a special task force to probe into the scandal surrounding former NSB cashier Liu Kuan-chun (劉冠軍), who allegedly embezzled NT$192 million before fleeing the country in September 2000.

He is believed to have leaked top-secret documents to the press, showing the bureau has since 1994 set up secret funds to sponsor covert operations in violation of budget codes.

"An ad hoc panel may not cure the management flaws plaguing the NSB," the PFP lawmaker held. "Given the far-reaching and delicate nature of intelligence activities, it is inappropriate to have the Defense Committee oversee the NSB." He advised against a large panel for fear that the greater the number of participants, the more difficult it will be to keep secrets.

"That is why I recommend all parties appoint legislators-at-large to the committee, as they win their seats through proportional representation and are thus less inclined to draw media attention with revealing statements," Liu added.

Under his bill, all panelists and their assistants are required to sign an agreement not to disclose the content of committee meetings. Violators will be deprived of their right to participate, in addition to receiving due judicial punishment. It further suggests authorities keep tabs on the foreign trips of all committee members and their aides.

"Members who quit the committee should continue to keep state secrets and receive punishment when leaking them within three years after their departure," Liu said.

Last Saturday, the KMT had introduced a bill with similar ends. DPP lawmakers Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) and Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) also plan to put forth their own versions today and later this month.

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