The Tacit agreement between the AKP and CHP
İsmet BerkanWhen the government started to interfere with the judiciary and the ongoing investigations following the operation of Dec. 17, a proposed law on the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which is currently on hold on the Parliament’s General Assembly, came to the agenda.
This proposal includes things that are not acceptable in any given democracy; it furthermore forces the limits of the constitution. Precisely for that reason and knowing how the West will react to it, President Abdullah Gül has intervened.
Gül’s proposal was to change the relevant HSYK stipulations in the constitution. The president assumed the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which had previously voted “no” to Constitutional changes (in the 2010 referendum) and the government that currently wants to change HSYK members all together would approach favorably to this amendment. As a matter of fact, both sides at the beginning did not object to the proposal. Yet, during the course of all that time, the constitution did not change. And in the meantime, the government obtained the liberty to make its own appointment via a partial amendment in the HSYK; in other words the need for a (new) HSYK law in a way no longer exists.
Although the CHP sees this situation, it still remains to keep itself distanced from the constitutional change and avoid working in a way to pressure the government on this issue.
Why is that so?
When you look at the concrete situation, the government has actually obtained what it wanted and dispersed judges to four corners of the country. It should be the government that would shy away from a constitutional change, since it is difficult to project what will happen with a brand new HSYK team.
Well then; what did the CHP achieve in this process? Rather than contributing to the judicial independence in Turkey for the mid to long term, they seem content and think it is enough to label the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a “party that covers up corruption” and thus be wearied up by this (label).
What you should understand is that the two parties at the end agree, even if they seem to be quarrelling.
Illegal Tapping won’t go away unless you are the victim
I don’t have particular information, but it appears to be so; the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul has listened to a businessman named Mustafa Latif Topbaş within the framework of the investigation that provided the basis for the detentions it wanted to have, yet failed to do on Dec. 25.
Topbaş is a figure close to the family. Talking to the journalists on his return from his two day trip to Tehran, the prime minister said “They even listened to me, my family and the president.” He points at Deniz Zeyrek, Hürriyet’s Ankara bureau chief and explained the mechanism: “There is a decision to listen to Deniz. Deniz calls Okan (another journalist) and hoop, Okan is being listened to.”
We have known about this mechanism for a long time. I got bored and stopped when I reached 30, as I started to count how many articles I have written about this mechanism and the negative consequences of telephone tapping. I bet there is no one left who has not written about it.
After hearing his voice and that of his daughter and son, now it seems the prime minister understands what we have tried to explain for such a long time. He said “We will bring regulations to it.” Yes, but how? Let me say it right at the start. The method proposed by the prime minister won’t solve any of the drawbacks.
How does the US listen?
The United States is a country where respect for private life is very strong, where interference with private life is perceived nearly as something horrendous. Naturally, private life is protected by law.
Telephone tapping is tied to strict rules in this country and they are thoroughly monitored. It is very difficult for the prosecutors to make these decisions and when it makes these decisions, it is seriously controlled. First of all, there are always two people to listen to the telephone; it’s not the case like in Turkey, where a computer registers every conversation. It is important that those who do the listening sit next to each other, since they are supposed to monitor each other. Let’s suppose the person started talking on the phone. After a while, if there is no conversation about the crime being investigated than the tapping is immediately stopped and the recording is deleted right at that moment. They wait a while and then the listening starts again. If there is no mention of the crime, the listening stops again. In other words, no conversation that has relevance to the crime gets into the file; conversations with people that have nothing to do with the crime do not make it onto the file.
In the prime minister’s proposal, there is permission for a limitless three month period of listening. That is, all conversation, relevant or irrelevant will be listened to and included in the files.
İsmet Berkan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published Jan 31. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.