Intel Bureau slammed over ‘leaks’

By Lo Tien-pin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mon, Nov 05, 2012 - Page 3

Cooperation between the Military Intelligence Bureau and a telecommunications company have led to allegations within the bureau that a senior officer leaked confidential bureau information to the telecoms firm.

Sources from the bureau said that in September it had begun a technological operation with a national telecoms company in order to plan and carry out improvements to the monitoring of cross-border information.

The source alleged that the bureau’s telecoms unit chief, Chou Hsuan-ming (周玄明), photocopied classified documents containing satellite transmission data and provided the copies to the company for reference.

The source alleged that the action posed serious concerns over the potential leaking of classified bureau information.

According to sources, Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) ordered bureau chief Tang Chia-kun (湯家坤) to launch an investigation into the matter after being told about the report, but the bureau had not taken any punitive action, saying that the information allegedly leaked was not actually classified.

The source alleged there was the possibility that high-ranking officials had been attempting to cover up for one another.

When reached for a response, the bureau said on Saturday that the bureau’s telecoms center had been exploring possibilities of working with the telecoms company to undertake research into the development of telecommunication technology.

An internal investigation has been launched, with the bureau’s deputy chief Yao Tzu-te (姚祖德) heading the probe, it said, adding that a close examination of all the documents involved has been carried out with one of the conclusions being that the information provided to the telecoms company was not classified.

There was not issue of a “cover up,” it said, adding there was nothing to suggest that classified information had been leaked.

However, the source rebutted the official statement, saying that if information on the satellite systems Taiwan currently uses for information-gathering was not classified, then he did not know what was.

The bureau’s electronic surveillance process uses various systems to monitor and intercept electronic signals from Chinese coastal and border areas, or from other countries, by locking on to certain phrases and frequencies, the source said.

These are treasured resources the bureau has gathered over many years and now that this information has been leaked, it will be more difficult to gather intelligence, the source said, adding that they were not willing to accept the bureau’s statements.

“If the Chinese know which satellites Taiwan is using, then surely they will be able to avoid doing anything when those satellites cross over Chinese airspace,” the source said.

Observers said that for a secret intelligence unit such as the bureau, its internal management operations need to be tightened or else discontent — suppressed by operatives despite many lax incidents — might explode causing a major issue which the bureau, the country’s citizens nor the Ministry of National Defense would wish to see.

The bureau has seen its image tarnished in recent years. This June, a female lieutenant surnamed Yeh (葉) was stripped of her rank and now faces investigation for exceeding her time overseas in an alleged attempt to cut short her military career. In July, another lieutenant, surnamed Wang (汪), who was serving at the bureau’s strategic information center committed suicide and in August a lieutenant colonel, surnamed Wang (王), used a military vehicle for private purposes despite not having a permit to drive military vehicles. In September a major general surnamed Luo (羅) accepted gifts from a subordinate.