Thu, Dec 07, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Pan-blues say `spy gate' poses security risk

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

A restricted access gate for spies and first family members at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport poses a threat to national security, pan-blue legislators said yesterday.

Responding to questions posed by pan-blue legislators at the legislature's Home and Nation Committee yesterday, National Security Bureau (NSB) Deputy Director Yang Kuo-chiang (楊國強) confirmed the existence of a top-secret access route for Taiwanese intelligence officers exiting or returning to the country via the airport.

"Is the route a diplomatic gate?" Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Wu (吳志揚) asked Yang.

"It's a section of the diplomatic gate," Yang said.

Calling the gate a "rat hole," KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) accused the NSB of violating the law by not allowing regular airport security to patrol the access area.

Wu added that airport officials weren't even allowed to inquire who transited through the gate, much less check their travel documents.

"Aren't you concerned that a shoulder-fired missile could slip through? Osama bin Laden could walk through there and we wouldn't know a thing!" Wu said.

He then displayed photographs of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), and daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚), saying that the couple had passed through the "rat hole" after arriving in Taiwan from the US on Friday.

Wu claimed that the pictures show Chen Chih-chung and Huang, who is seven-months pregnant, emerging from the secret access route after disembarking from their plane.

KMT Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝), meanwhile, said that the first family's "unfettered access to the `rat hole'" proved that they regularly abused their power and that the government lavished special, unauthorized treatment on them.

"The gate is not just for covert operatives, legislator," Yang shot back, adding that VIPs and members of the first family were also allowed to use it "for security reasons."

Saying that Yang "[had] no testicles whatsoever," KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) accused the NSB of dispatching an elite security detail to the US not only to protect Chen Chih-chung and Huang, but also to help the first son ace his college papers at the universities of Berkeley and New York.

Lee cited a recent article in the Taiwanese tabloid Next Magazine alleging that a NSB operative by the name of Tai Hsin-yu (戴欣宇) had helped Chen Chih-chung get ahead in school.

"Chen [Chih-chung] had to pass TOEFL [Test Of English as a Foreign Language] and GRE [Graduate Record Examination] tests to get into Berkeley and NYU. He didn't need any help from us," Yang replied.

According to the article, Tai is a New York-based Taiwanese spy who boasts oodles of book smarts. When asked if Tai was an operative under his charge, Yang said that was classified information.

"I'm not at liberty to say," the spymaster said.

"Does the NSB have people in New York?" reporters asked Yang during the meeting.

"We have people everywhere," he replied.

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