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.