Exposing the ills is not enough

The government’s determination to bring the phone-tapping affair to light came right from the prime minister’s lips. «The era of cover-ups has passed, never to return… The state will be ruthless. The will of the government is not in doubt. It is strong and unyielding,» Costas Karamanlis stressed. To be sure, the New Democracy administration can brag that, unlike its Socialist predecessors, it has never tried to sweep controversial issues under the carpet. However, when it comes to scandals like the recent surveillance affair, disclosing the incident is no more than a first step. The book cannot be closed until answers are given to the relentless questions: Who spied on the prime minister and other top government officials and why? Costas Karamanlis yesterday fell short of coming up with any promising response. His pledge to tighten regulations and introduce stiffer penalties for mobile phone companies gave little comfort that it will remedy the problems. It was a huge letdown to see that the prime minister has left the investigation of such a dark and nationally crucial issue to the judicial system alone. The prime minister disappointed those who expected to hear some political initiative or measure aimed at dealing with such a colossal political issue. Let’s hope that the omission is not repeated on a practical level. The public expected drastic measures aimed at shaking up the troubled state apparatus. It was a surprise that Karamanlis failed to herald in a sweeping restructure of the country’s intelligence services. After all, it was their incompetence that allowed the culprits to eavesdrop on the prime minister and his ministers for months before being informed by the mobile phone operator whose network hosted the spy software. If such a blatant admission of ineptitude fails to prompt reform in the intelligence services, then there is good reason to be skeptical that the country will ever have a state mechanism capable of carrying out any serious reform program.

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