A senior government official confirmed yesterday that the Na-tional Security Bureau (NSB) has taken urgent damage control measures after the media exposed the Donald Keyser inci-dent, saying that among other measures the agency had recalled crucial intelligence agents from the US. \nBut the official stressed that the incident will not substantially affect the Taiwan-US relationship and that speculation that the incident was sparked by infighting within the US intelligence system was incorrect. \n"The media, both in the US and Taiwan, have tried to sensationalize the issue by suggesting a sexual motive, a possible financial scandal and even an internal struggle or Chinese conspiracy," the official told the Taipei Times. \n"We regard it as an isolated incident but are certainly aware that the NSB's intelligence efforts in the US have to be rearranged; especially the entire team in the US must be reorganized," the official said. \nHe stressed that from a certain point of view, the case showed the success of Taiwan's intelligence work, but conceded that it also displayed that some agents were too eager for success. \n"Intelligence exchanges between the US and other countries, including China, Russia and Israel, take place every day," said the official. "This case is just the same." \n"The two Taiwanese agents who made contact with Keyser are not the only channels in the Taiwan-US intelligence net," said the official. "The action by the FBI may be a message that the US government expects Taiwan to exercise proper restraint over its intelligence agents." \nFormer US State Department deputy assistant secretary Keyser has been arrested by the FBI for illegally handing over documents to Taiwanese intelligence agents. To prevent this kind of incident from happening again, National Security Bureau Chief Hsueh Shih-ming (薛石民) has immediately recalled senior special agents from the US and other countries to attend a meeting to discuss how to maintain domestic national security while conducting intelligence work overseas. He also said that on returning to Taiwan they would be required to undergo further vetting and lie detector tests. \nHsueh also had discussed the development of Keyser's case with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as well as the National Security Council's secretary-general, Chiou I-jen (邱義仁). \nNSB sources revealed that when Hsueh visited the US recently to conduct an exchange with senior State Department officials on security cooperation in order to guarantee security for Chen during his trip to Central America, and to receive a briefing from US-based special agent Huang Kuang-hsun (黃光勳), he knew absolutely nothing about the FBI's close attention to Keyser, much less that Keyser would be arrested just four days after leaving his senior government position. \n"When the Keyser incident became known, Hsueh immediately called a special meeting, recalled special agents and reported to the president on how the bureau was dealing with the matter," the sources said. \nHaving not foreseen that the incident would be widely covered by the US media, which could affect future developments, the National Security Bureau is now attempting to limit the damage. \nAfter two days of silence, the bureau released a press release on Friday evening emphasizing that as far as Taiwan is concerned, the US is a friendly country and that bureau staff in the US are there to understand, using open methods, the impressions of Taiwan held by intelligence agencies, the US government and the US people. \nIt said that the US uses similar channels to understand Taiwan's affairs and to convey its views on such matters, and that they are a normal channel of communication, helping the two sides to exchange ideas on issues of mutual concern. \nVice Minister of National Defense Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) said on Friday that Keyser was a respected and distinguished diplomat who was well-versed in cross-strait issues and was friendly to Taiwan, and that he hoped Keyser would soon be exonerated.
PHOTO: CHEN TZEH-MING, TAIPEI TIMES
The chief mechanic in an air force unit from which an F-16 and its pilot went missing last week died on Sunday evening in what might have been a suicide, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday. The ministry in a statement confirmed media reports that the mechanic, surnamed Huang (黃), “hurt himself” at a military barracks. Huang was taken to Hualien Armed Forces General Hospital after he was found unresponsive in the barracks, but doctors could not revive him, the ministry said. Huang served in the 26th Tactical Fighter Group of the 5th Tactical Fighter Wing, the same unit as the missing
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) last night said that it had no comment about reports that a senior US Navy officer had arrived in Taipei for a visit. Several media outlets reported that Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, director of intelligence of the US Indo-Pacific Command, arrived at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) on a special charter flight at about 7pm. The schedule of a “senior US official” in Taiwan would not be made public, the ministry said in a news release, without confirming the visit or the official’s identity. Interactions and exchanges between Taiwan and the US are common, and visits
NON-TYPICAL: Apart from Atsani, storms in autumn missed Taiwan, rainfall has been lower and average temperatures have been higher, a CWB forecaster said The current water shortage is expected to worsen in the next few months, with the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) yesterday forecasting a colder, dryer winter than normal. With winter starting next week, the bureau at a media briefing outlined the expected conditions through February and reviewed autumn’s significant weather events. Weather Forecast Center director Lu Kuo-cheng (呂國臣) said that autumn this year had three major characteristics: First, 13 tropical storms and typhoons formed from September to this month, up from 11 in the same period last year, Lu said. Apart from Atsani, for which sea and land alerts were issued in Taiwan, the tropical
The US’ inclusion of Taiwan in its Indo-Pacific Strategy is geared toward weakening Beijing’s influence in Southeast Asia, as well as providing a Blue Dot Network to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a senior Executive Yuan member said yesterday. Taiwan and the US would be seeking further collaboration on infrastructure construction and energy, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The US and Taiwan signed a memorandum of understanding on the Framework to Strengthen Infrastructure, Finance and Market Cooperation on Sept. 17, which would see the Ministry of Finance and the US Department of the Treasury establishing respective task