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GCSB – independent inquiry needed

Written By: - Date published: 12:35 pm, July 10th, 2013 - 31 comments
Categories: accountability, democracy under attack, greens, human rights, internet, john key, labour, slippery, spin, Spying, telecommunications - Tags:

There is clear evidence that a full, independent inquiry of the GCSB is needed before the law/s related to NZ intelligence gathering are changed.  The Green Party called for such an inquiry in May 2013.  They argued that the inadequate report by Paul Neazor indicated a full and thorough inquiry is needed. The Green Party press release states:

“For the public to have any confidence in the GCSB, which did illegal spy against a New Zealand resident, then a Commission of Inquiry is needed. Then once concerns have been put to bed the Law Commission should look at what law changes are required.

“A law change should be the last step in the process, not the first.

“New Zealanders need to be assured that the GCSB is behaving within the law and acting ethically before the laws governing our spies are changed.

“John Key should stop trying to hoodwink the public and start looking after their interests – which don’t include being spied on 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Dr Norman said.

The Green Party has called for better oversight of GCSB with a regular parliamentary select committee replacing the government-dominated Intelligence and Security Committee, and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security becoming an Officer of Parliament.

In May the Labour Party also called for a full inquiry:

The claim by the Inspector-General that the 88 cases of potential illegal spying did not break the law won’t reassure Kiwis who have lost confidence in the agency and its oversight, says Labour Leader David Shearer.

[…]

“The only way to restore public confidence is to carry out a thorough independent inquiry across the entire intelligence network. A band aid solution involving piecemeal changes to legislation won’t work,” said David Shearer.

In today’s NZ Herald, Massey Uni politics lecturer Damien Rogers provides an excellent argument for why a full, independent inquiry of the GCSB is required.  He looks at the changing role of the GCSB, as legislated by successive governments, and finds that the GCSB brief and surveillance scope is far from clear.  It’s open to interpretation by the GCSB itself.

Part of the problem is that there is no agreed meaning of national security.

The NZSIS Act 1969 focuses on protecting the state from threats of espionage, sabotage and subversion, with terrorism a more recent addition. The GCSB Act 2003 encompasses New Zealand’s international and economic wellbeing, the Government’s international relations, obligations and commitments, and the protection of its official communications, information systems and computer systems.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Department places New Zealanders at the heart of national security, which is “the condition which permits the citizens of a state to go about their daily business confidently free from fear and able to make the most of opportunities to advance their way of life”.

Without an agreed meaning of national security, our spies will set their own collection priorities.

The elasticity of the term “national security” leaves the GCSB open to political misuse by the government.  And, in this context, John Key has relied on a mix of secrecy and spin in his management of GCSB and related issues:

When the concept of national security becomes this elastic, there is little to prevent the Prime Minister from directing our spies to target opposition parties or other groups as part of the Government’s dog-whistle politics.

Secrecy and spin do not mix well together.

John Key’s overall handling of questions concerning our spies – including his own knowledge of the Dotcom debacle, Ian Fletcher’s appointment as GCSB director, and the Kitteridge Report’s leak – highlights his mastery over the dark arts of spin. He’s expert at reassuring New Zealanders that he’s in control, that they should relax and that there’s nothing untoward to see here.

On questions concerning our spies, John Key has added a reliance on secrecy to his arsenal of spin tactics. While the Prime Minister previously commented publicly on intelligence matters, such as when he boasted that New Zealand gained greater access to Australian intelligence on boat people, he now refrains.

[…]

John Key favours secrecy over transparency less for our spies’ benefit and more for his political convenience. No less than his credibility and integrity are at stake here.

Like Shearer, Rogers concludes:

In circumstances like these, nothing short of a full, independent inquiry will restore public confidence in New Zealand’s intelligence community.

It’s good to see John Key’s spin and media manipulations so clearly explained.  And it also shows why Peter Dunne and NZ First should not support the current proposed change to the GCSB Act, with or without compromises by John Key. It is undemocratic and dangerous to the rights of New Zealanders, and could result in some Kiwis’ lives being unfairly damaged.

[update]  Campbell Live tonight – must see viewing.  I’ll post the link when it comes online.

however, from memory, it went something like this:  Campbell strongly questioned the changes to the GCSB Bill going through parliament, with an interview with a lawyer acting for Kim Dotcom.  The lawyer asked why is this Bill being put through here in NZ, when there just aren’t the treats posed in places like the US?  Campbell challenged the “nothing to hide; nothing to fear” mantra.

And Campbell presented a pretty compelling timeline. All those things happening in July 2011:

Finlayson in Aussie, with Eric Holder (US guy after Dotcom) and other reps of 5 Eyes and they discuss cyber crime, intelligence gathering and extradition arrangements;

meanwhile Key is in the US and meets Obama, Key is talking about keeping (?) something safe; around that time Key calls Ian Fetcher & suggests he apply for the GCSB job;

Power turns down Dotcom’s application to buy the mansion;

Key comes back to NZ, about the time Fletcher is being interviewed for the job…

…. and other stuff, like Fletcher’s dept in Queensland supplying equipment for Pike River disaster response…. Fletcher drops into the Beehive prior to being asked to apply fore the GCSB job, just to “see how things are going”….

Campbell Live tonight: Dissecting the GCSB Bill:

The GCSB bill connects domestic spying to global spy networks, which, as we’ve recently learnt, are listening to almost everyone.

Now, the bill is being passed under urgency.

But why? Shouldn’t we get this right?

The Prime Minister is now trying to win support from either Peter Dunne or New Zealand First to get the bill through.

But whose bill is it, really? And who will we be spying for?

Watch the full video to find out.

31 comments on “GCSB – independent inquiry needed”

  1. pollywog 1

    Key would have the most to hide, so should be most fearful for when he’s not PM…

    Unless he’s got the immunity Idol?

    • fender 1.1

      Yeah there will be no inquiry because it could expose what most suspect: abuse of this dept. by the big brother authoritarian National PM with help from his childhood friend.

      But if Labour support his increase in surveillance bill, they can find out in a few years what he’s been up to, should him and his schoolmate make a stuff-up and leave any evidence for them. Key is a crook, and that’s obvious from watching his behaviour at the committee hearing.

      Maybe now that the elderly are being harassed by WINZ over superannuation, these fools will be gone next election.

      • the central scutinizer 1.1.1

        if labour support this bill they will be one vote less from me next election. The irony of the whole issue, is the people who vote this bill in are all subject to be put under surveillance as well. The only threats Key is determined to stop, are threats to Key.

  2. geoff 2

    Fuck inquiries. What we need is riots.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      That’s what its come to in a lot of European and ME countries. I also suspect that US authorities have forecasted widespread civil unrest in their cities. Hence the massive scope of their surveillance in citizens, law enforcement drone programmes, para-militarisation of the police, etc.

      • AmaKiwi 2.1.1

        29,000 California inmates are on a hunger strike that is expected to last a long time.

        When we have nothing more to lose, maybe we will act, too.

        How bad does it have to get?

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          29,000 California inmates are on a hunger strike that is expected to last a long time.

          Indeed. At Guantanamo, the US authorities have perfected the art of force feeding prisoners. See where this is all going?

    • Martin 2.2

      this is NZ. you want Egypt or Europe.
      Here people watch TV and sport and eat the grass like sheep.

  3. Chooky 3

    ‘GCSB – independent inquiry needed’ …. Agreed! thanks Karol .

    A good reminder of the real issues at stake ….Hope Peter Dunne reads this!

  4. BLiP 4

    Yep. And the inquiry should also look into the fact that from day one the Minister in charge of the GCSB, Prime Minister John Key, has lied, and lied, and lied . . .

    first I heard I heard about Kim Dotcom was on 19 January 2012

    first I heard about the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom was in September

    I did not mislead the House (6)

    the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom was an isolated incident

    Iain Rennie came to me and recommended Fletcher for the GCSB job

    I told Cabinet that I knew Ian Fletcher

    I forgot that after I scrapped the shortlist for GCSB job I phoned a life-long friend to tell him to apply for the position

    I told Iain Rennie I would contact Fletcher

    for 30 years, or three decades, I didn’t have any dinners or lunches or breakfasts with Ian Fletcher

    I did not mislead the House (14)

    I have no reason to doubt at this stage that Peter Dunne did not leak the GCSB report

    I called directory service to get Ian Fletcher’s number

    I did not mislead the house (15)

    cyber terrorists have attempted to gain access to information about weapons of mass destruction held on New Zealand computers

    New Zealand has an arrangement to have asylum seekers processed in Australian detention camps

    the law which says the GCSB cannot spy on New Zealanders is not clear

    . . . and now he’s asking New Zealanders to trust him with even more power.

  5. Sanctuary 5

    Who saw Campbell live tonight? I can see where John Campbell is going with this. If he has concrete evidence Key knew about Kim Dotcom long before his constantly repeated “day before the raid” then for Key, it is game over.

    • karol 5.1

      Snap. All those things happening in July 2011: Finlayson in Aussie, with Eric Holder (US guy after Dotcom) and other reps of 5 Eyes and they discuss cyber crime, intelligence gathering and extradition arrangements; meanwhile Key is in the US and meets Obama, Key is talking about keeping (?) something safe; around that time Key calls Ian Fetcher & suggests he apply for the GCSB job; Power turns down Dotcom’s application to buy the mansion; Key comes back to NZ, about the time Fletcher is being interviewed for the job…

      …. and other stuff, like Fletcher’s dept in Queensland supplying equipment for Pike River disaster response…. Fletcher drops into the Beehive prior to being asked to apply fore the GCSB job, just to “see how things are going”…. and on and on it goes. Dodgy as.

    • RedLogix 5.2

      No it won’t be. Shearer will be complicit in getting the GCSB legislation passed in a form that retrospectively makes the spying on Dotcom legal.

      And the MSM will be complicit in making sure that the issue just stays a ‘beltway thing’ that Joe Public won’t worry his pretty little head about.

      And the NZ Herald will run no six inch high headlines ….

      • Colonial Viper 5.2.1

        Yep. You’ve got Shearer’s number down pat.

      • Tim 5.2.2

        Which is why the urgency.
        Chris Finlayson should be utterly ashamed of himself too – but then he’s apparently “a bit on an odd fish” and able to reconcile anything. If you don’t like his stated principles, he’s got several others to try out on ya.

  6. karol 6

    Campbell Live tonight! Must view, for the timeline. Shonkey’s US suck-up exposed.

  7. Anne 7

    Campbell Live up at last

    Going to take notes this time. TV3/John Campbell have done it again. And there’s more to come.

    • Anne 7.1

      Okay in a nutshell here are the time links:

      15 July 2011- Finlayson meets US Attorney General, Eric Holder.

      22 July 2011 – Key meets Obama.

      Martin Wevers (former Head of the Prime Minister’s department) heads off to Washington with Key.

      Sometime in July 2011 Key rings Fletcher about GCSB job.

      Martin Wevers returns from Washington July 2011 and interviews Fletcher next day.

      Grant Wormald is contacted by FBI and starts working on Dotcom case around August 2011.

      Williamson grants Kim Dotcom consent to purchase Chrischo mansion in April 2011.

      Simon Power overturns consent 3 mths later around July/August 2011.

      John Key is kissing Washington’s feet for personal gratification. He knew all about Kim Dotcom from July 2011 – at the latest.

  8. Martin 8

    John Key is a Manchurian Candidate.

  9. Rodel 9

    Campbell Live tonight (10th July).
    Ask all your friends to watch this on TV3 on demand.
    The deception by Key and his associates and collusion with US spy agencies is unbelievable .
    What is this man thinking of? Is he a real New Zealander? Next thing it will be, “call me Keywee” ugh! Heard that before with the last PM who rolled over when the US said ‘go to Vietnam.’

    Congratulations to Campbell and Co. We have some real journalism our country, (I repeat OUR country)- at last!

    • karol 9.1

      In the CL report, Key was so much in awed, suck-up mode when meeting with OBama.

      Yes, great journalism and a team effort.

  10. Richard 10

    Great work by Campbell Live. And a full 16 minutes! But I suppose there were a hell of a lot of dodgy dealings to list.
    Can’t quite see 7 Sharp raising the stakes on this one.

    • Rodel 10.1

      Yes. By contrast 7 sharp should be on in afternoons or maybe after midnight among the infomercials.
      Bit of fun I guess but not the real journalism I really want. Watsisname with the mustache was much better.

  11. georgecom 11

    All Key needs to do is appear on TV, admit the current bill is doing what Washington has asked him to do and aimed at closing down the likes of Dotcom (and Dotcom in particular) for alleged copywrite infringments.

    If you are so sure of things, be open about it.

    Nothing to hide = nothing to fear, Prime MInister?

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