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DSC should be dissolved, says committee

Military’s intelligence unit many not survive its martial law plans
Aug 03,2018
A committee studying how to reform the military’s Defense Security Command (DSC) recommended on Thursday to abolish all legal underpinnings for the 70-year-old intelligence unit and substituting it with something new.

The committee also called for cutting the DSC’s workforce by at least 30 percent and shutting down all its regional units.

It was revealed last month that the DSC drew up contingency plans for martial law last year in case the Constitutional Court rejected the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye and chaos ensued.

Chang Young-dal, head of the committee, said at a press conference that after two months of deliberation, it recommended abolishing the legal foundation for the current DSC and setting up a new intelligence unit with a new name.

“We assess that if we achieve all reform measures, there will not be illegal meddling in political affairs or illegal surveillance of civilians,” said Chang, adding that a reformed DSC would not conduct activities that would negatively “affect the morale” of military officials by exerting a sense of “privilege.”

Chang, a former four-term lawmaker, agreed Thursday that the committee’s recommendation was a virtual dissolution of the intelligence unit.

“I personally think the reform proposal [unveiled today] is practically at the level of the [DSC’s] dissolution,” said the committee chief.

“But since there are opinions that the word “dissolution” sounds too strong, I will refrain from using that expression.”

In respect to the form of the DSC going forward, the committee laid out three options for Defense Minister Song Young-moo, who will make his recommendations to President Moon Jae-in.

The first calls for keeping the current form of the DSC as a command.

The second would be to put the DSC under the command of the Defense Ministry as a mere advisory group, not an actual military command.

The third would be to separate the DSC from the Defense Ministry and make it an independent intelligence unit subject to parliamentary oversight like the Military Manpower Administration, which deals with the conscription of able-bodied men.

It remains to be seen which option Song, a former Navy general, will recommend to President Moon Jae-in.

But slashing its workforce by at least 30 percent and replacing its legal underpinnings with something new will be applied to any option.

Last year, the DSC drafted two sets of plans, one nine-pages long and the other 67-pages, for martial law before the Constitutional Court’s March 10 ruling on former President Park’s impeachment.

In the documents, the military went into detail over how to successfully carry out martial law.

To prevent lawmakers from voting to revoke the envisioned martial law, the DSC classified them into two groups - conservatives and liberals - and laid down legal grounds to justify the arrest of those who might oppose martial law.

It also laid out conditions that would allow the military to open fire on protesters, which were if they were attacked by mobs or if there were no other means to bring protesters under control.

Aside from the martial law planning, the DSC is also accused of having spied on the relatives of victims of the Sewol ferry sinking in April 2014, which killed over 300 people, most of whom were high school students.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]