Oversight of a nation’s security agencies is vital to democracy. Our government’s spies are overseen by two people – the Prime Minister and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. According the to government narrative, the former asked the latter to investigate he found out the GCSB had been illegally spying on two Kiwis. And, guess what, the report blamed underlings. It didn’t even investigate the question of whether their oversight was up to scratch.
The short, pathetic little report that Neazor produced (and which Key sat on for two days) fails to address any significant questions. According to the official narrative, some GCSB people fucked up by believing the incompetent Police who told them that Dotcom wasn’t a permanent resident and misreading their own legislation. To make sure you got the line – it called the law “confusing” or referred to GSBC “confusion” a good half a dozen times.
Fuck up or malice, it’s a breach of the law and those people should be prosecuted. But how did it get to that? And how did it, officially, not get discovered for eight months? That’s a question of oversight.
Neazor,as Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is meant to be provide active monitoring – going in and checking out the GCSB’s activities, who they’re spying on, how they’re using their warrants. He says he goes to their offices regularly. When did he first learn that they had spied on Dotcom – not that the spying was illegal, but that it had happened (which should have triggered questions from him over whether Dotcom is a permanent resident)? The report is silent on that.
Then, there’s Key. As Minister of the GCSB, Key has ministerial powers and duties that are extraordinary. Ordinarily, ministers are not meant to get involved in the day to day affairs of ministries but the GCSB Act says: “The performance of the Bureau’s functions is subject to the control of the Minister.” Key has to sign off on every warrant that the GCSB requests and has to “control” the organisation, even its activities that don’t require warrants (the spying on Dotcom would have fallen into this category – except it was illegal with or without warrant to spy on a NZ resident).
Where was that “control”? Did Key ever ask if the GCSB was involved in the Dotcom raids? Did he ask in those monthly meetings with the GCSB (and why didn’t they raise it)? Did he ask when he was told about the Dotcom raid the day before it happened – when Key claims he first heard Dotcom’s name? Did he ask then which agencies were involved? The report is silent.
The report doesn’t even tell us when the GCSB worked out that it had spied on Dotcom illegally.
It’s a whitewash. And that just raised the question: what are the failed guardians trying to hide? Even if it is their own incompetence, it is a resignation level offence.