A brilliant (if flawed) event – Key must resign

Written By: - Date published: 6:06 am, September 16th, 2014 - 71 comments
Categories: accountability, defence, election 2014, International, Spying - Tags: , , , ,

Last night Dotcom made a complete mess of his personal “big reveal”. He should have backed up the letter leaked earlier that day to The Herald. He didn’t, and that can only lead to increased doubts over its authenticity. That story will play out over time, of course, but it created a diversion on the night which distracted from the main message.

In other respects it was a brilliant event. All of the speakers had their strengths, but Snowden was particularly compelling, setting out his personal testimony – New Zealanders are under mass surveillance. Here’s how Key’s “story” with respect to such claims has evolved – from:

Greenwald has had access to leaked documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, and he says he will release a report that would show the GCSB has been conducting mass surveillance on New Zealanders — a claim Mr Key strongly denies. “There’s no ambiguity. No middle ground. I’m right. He’s wrong,” Mr Key told reporters today.

to:

Mr Key said Cabinet signed off a proposal for the GCSB to investigate a business case for widespread cyber protection of New Zealand entities, but he personally stopped the work in March last year because he thought it was a step too far. “In the end, that never even got to a business case.”

to:

Mr Key today acknowledged the GCSB had indeed tapped into the cable, but for the purposes of a cybersecurity programme. However, Mr Key said concerns the project would be perceived as mass surveillance led to it being scaled back to a much narrower programme.

…to the pure distraction of the release of hastily declassified documents that relate to something else entirely (CORTEX).

The Greenwald / Snowden revelations (no need to repeat them, go read the originals here and here) relate not to CORTEX but to Speargun and XKEYSCORE, about which Key says – nothing:

”we don’t discuss the specific programmes the GCSB may, or may not use”

So from Key we have changing stories, irrelevant distractions and refusal to comment. From Snowden we have compelling first person testimony and supporting documents (uncontested by any other Five Eyes leader). New Zealand is under mass surveillance. “If you live in New Zealand you are being watched”. Changes to the GCSB legislation were part of a planned expansion of that process. Time for Key to make good on his promise:

Prime Minister John Key says he and the head of GCSB would resign if the spy agency were found to have conducted mass surveillance.


XKEYSCORE


See international coverage:
The Sydney Morning Herald: “Edward Snowden reveals tapping of major Australia-New Zealand undersea telecommunications cable”,
The Wall Street Journal: “Edward Snowden Accuses New Zealand Leader of Deception Over Surveillance”,
The Guardian: Kim Dotcom accuses New Zealand government of mass spying,
ABC News: Snowden: NSA Collects Mass Data on New Zealanders

71 comments on “A brilliant (if flawed) event – Key must resign”

  1. deWithiel 2

    It’s highly unlikely Audrey Young be reporting on this today but she’ll definitely be pushing her ideological beliefs as she spins Key’s narrative while soothing his fevered brow. The Herald subbies will probably do what they did yesterday when they headlined his ‘chat’ with Hosking a ‘grilling’. New Zealand journalism, as embodied by the Herald, really is going from bad to worse in its pursuit of corporate hegemony.

    • Tracey 2.1

      Audrey claims Snowden is a hero. Does that mean she believes what he has said? If it does mean that, where is her story along the lines just explained by Anthony above.

      It IS that simple…

  2. Fuck, do your fucking job MSM!

    http://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10501778/US-spy-base-in-NZ

    On X-Keyscore, Key said that although he did not comment on the programmes the GCSB used, the agency did “not collect mass metadata on New Zealanders, therefore it is clearly not contributing such data to anything or anyone”.

    Stop letting him slip through the net with carefully crafted spin.

    • Paul 3.1

      They’ll just be looking for their angle.

    • mickysavage 3.2

      It seems very simple. The Americans collect the data and the GCSB interrogates it through xKeyScore.

      Here is what Key said last night:

      “There is not, and never has been, a cable access surveillance programme operating in New Zealand.

      “There is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB.

      “Regarding XKEYSCORE, we don’t discuss the specific programmes the GCSB may, or may not use, but the GCSB does not collect mass metadata on New Zealanders, therefore it is clearly not contributing such data to anything or anyone”.

      As for the cable if it is accessed at the Hawaii end the what Key said is true.

      As for mass surveillance if the data is agglomerated by the NSA then it is the NSA and not the GCSB that engages in mass surveillance of us.

      Perhaps reporters should ask Key if any 5eyes intelligence agency collects mass metadata about kiwis. This is the only rational way to explain Key’s spin with what appears to be a clear reality.

      • Tracey 3.2.1

        Key’s documents show the following

        On 3 April 2012 an Option 1 and Option 2 (the later included Option one) were explored with Option 2 the preference. Option 1 would provide “an automated investigative capability” and an “effects” defence option” – not explained in the documents.

        Option one was at that time agreed for implementation …

        if automated investigative capability is X-KEYSCORE then we have been mass surveilled since 2012.

        He doesnt need to tell us about the programme details but he can tell us if X-KEYSCORE is the “automated investigative capability”…

      • Tom Jackson 3.2.2

        No. It’s collected as an alliance.

  3. Tracey 4

    a whooooooosh moment for many journalists and NZers

    “Internet Party leader Laila Harre tried to close down questions, saying a complaint had been made to Parliament’s Speaker and no comment should be made until after an inquiry.

    But it didn’t stop questions, leaving Dotcom trying to point the media to the issue of mass surveillance.

    “[The public] don’t care about my case tonight. They care about being subjected to this evil mass surveillance.”

    Finally, he appeared to lose his cool and angrily lectured the media: “You have an obligation after what you have learned tonight to take the information you have learned from Glenn Greenwald.

    “You have failed New Zealanders in the past — look at Dirty Politics,” he said, referring to the book about the alleged National Party attack politics campaign. “You need to wake up and do your jobs.

    “My case only affects me. It doesn’t matter tonight. That’s why we didn’t make a big deal out of it. You need to get your priorities right. We have focused on the much bigger lie, which is every single New Zealander subjected to mass surveillance.””

  4. Awww 5

    Resign you prick.

  5. Hanswurst 6

    My immediate reaction to the documents released by Key was the same. They look like an abject failure and a massive own goal for him; it looks like he tried to play a game of chicken on the release of documents and lost. There is one single, passing mention of “mass surveillance”, the context of which as a hypothetical in a discussion of targeted searching for malware makes it completely irrelevant to Greenwald’s argument.

    It seems impossible that Key expected Greenwald and Snowden to be referring to something else, since the announcements yesterday were pretty much in line with what Greenwald had already signposted, and yet it beggars belief that Key thought that his declassified documents were any kind of reply to Greenwald’s revelations. So Key claims that Greenwald will give us half a story… then ostentatiously fails to give us his purported other half. Where is Key’s promised evidence that there was a plan for mass surveillance that Key himself rejected on the grounds that it was too far-reaching? I mean, we all know that Key’s not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he has advisers to prevent him from doing stupid things. He now needs to be hammered on the questions of why those documents were classified in the first place and why he declassified them, especially given that they appear on the face of it to have no substantive pertinence to Greenwald’s revelations.

    New Zealand’s favourite performing monkey must not be allowed to swing, whoop and cartwheel his way out of this one.

    • Tracey 6.1

      It also beggars belief that Key wasn’t using GCSB to try and pre-empt what Snowden et al were going to throw (and I am not talking about declassifying those 3 documents)

    • Tom Jackson 6.2

      If Key is that stupid, then he needs to resign. Does he not read the papers, or have assistants who do? The Guardian has been running this story for over a year. To anyone who read that reporting, it was obvious what Snowden and Greenwald were going to report.

      • Hanswurst 6.2.1

        It does seem rather odd, doesn’t it? Greenwald flies in, basically tells everybody exactly what he’s going to reveal, which is nothing that should have surprised Key as minister responsible for the GCSB, and yet Key sees it as necessary to release documents that do precisely nothing to assuage anybody’s concerns. All that this hurried declassification of dubiously relevant documents does, in fact, is make Key look like a shifty bastard who has something to hide. There seems to be a pattern emerging here.

        • Tracey 6.2.1.1

          but isnt it being reported as though his documents have proved him right, so why would people bother to read them to find out it proves no such thing?

          • Hanswurst 6.2.1.1.1

            The journalistic silence on the content of Key’s documents has been predictably deafening, as far as I can see (being outside the country, I can only access online sources). It’s interesting to see the framing of such issues. Obviously, it would be poor form for a journalist to state or imply in their capacity as a reporter that Key’s documents are not what he claims. However, there is nothing to stop them from doing so in an opinion column. It’s enough of an open-and-shut case to warrant a headline along the lines of “Key Documents a Smokescreen”, and an opening statement like, “John Key stated that he would release documents that refuted Glen Greenwald’s conclusions that New Zealand’s intelligence services had been involved in mass spying on its populace. The documents, hurriedly declassified and released to the media yesterday, do no such thing.”

            Such a statement would be factual and supported by the documents as released. Key is a big boy, and always under cordial invitation to appear before any media he chooses. His right of reply and ability to exercise it are in the rudest if health. It should be incumbent on him to support the positive argument he is making. Until he has done so, his documents should be treated as misleading the public, whether intentional or not. Why are Greenwald and Snowden being held to a higher standard of proof than Key?

  6. Tracey 7

    So thrilled to someone else, if not the media picking up that CORTEX was only being talked about from December 2013.

    Those papers, from my (admittedly) quick reading do NOT state that mass surveillance had not happened before that time and would not happen.

    It appeared that CORTEX and its formation as a “business case” was authroised by PM in December 2013….

    On 3 April 2012 an Option 1 and Option 2 (the later included Option one) were explored with Option 2 the preference. Option 1 would provide “an automated investigative capability” and an “effects” defence option” – not explained in the documents.

    Option one was at that time agreed for implementation

    If “an automated investigative capability” refers to X-KEYSCORE then mass surveillance was implemented on NZers in 2012 or 2013?

    Also agreed for implementation was “directing NCPO to work with the GCSB and other agencies on any wider cyber security policy issues” related to Option 2

    Option 2 required a business case in 2013

    2 September 2013 Cabinet rescinded the decision for a developed business plan for Option 2.

    That suggests between January 2013 and September 2013 the GCSB was developing a business case for option 2 because they could not know the decision would later be rescinded?

    Wouldn’t it be cool if the PM had released the plan they had put together for option 2 as of that date. No security issues around it cos we werent going to use it, right?

    Oh and don’t you all feel reassured that both Collins and Banks were at the meeting to discuss and assess all this?

  7. Tracey 8

    He may end up having to resign but after the election and National will still be in power (if they win on saturday night) but with a different leader… The USA won’t care who that leader is.

    • Rich 8.1

      Yes they will. Key is their man, so much so that he doesn’t even need to take a salary here. It’s unlikely a new person would be in their pocket so much, unless it’s one of the anointed, Collins or Bennet come to mind.

  8. Tracey 9

    Can anyone explain to me how John Key’s documents have refuted this claim…

    “Snowden claimed that while working for the US NSA he “routinely” came across the communications of New Zealanders while working in the XKeyscore mass surveillance tool.

    “It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic,” he wrote.

    A network of sensors placed around the world would allow him to search on an email address. One of those sensors is in New Zealand .”

    Doesn’t it sound like it could fit this label

    ““an automated investigative capability” ” which was authorised for implementation in April 2012?

    “Snowden said X-Keyscore is collecting the communications of people in New Zealand and it is not related to foreign intelligence.

    Snowden said that within the Five Eyes intelligence network, New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) contributes to the collection of communications.

    “There is not just metadata… and specifically the GCSB not only uses X-Keyscore, they have expanded it, they have contributed to its development.” “

    Did anyone at the meeting ask Snowden if he knew when NZ adopted X-KEYSCORE?

    • infused 9.1

      You do know xkeyscore was mentioned about 3yrs ago. It’s not new.

      And where is the evidence of the capture of data in NZ?

  9. Hanswurst 10

    Don’t know whether this has been noted already, but I also find it interesting that “CORTEX” bears more than a passing resemblance to “X-KEYSCORE“… almost enough to make one wonder whether it wasn’t somebody’s cute idea of a play on words. Not terribly significant, but curious nonetheless.

    • Tracey 10.1

      and then there is the defintion

      “:the furrowed outer layer of gray matter in the cerebrum of the brain, associated with the higher brain functions, as voluntary movement, coordination of sensory information, learning and memory, and the expression of individuality. “

    • Rich 10.2

      They’ve been doing this forever, Hanswurst, so yes you’re probably right. It’s oh so clever.

    • yeshe 10.3

      well spotted; it is a simple reduction. How much easier to verbalise Cortex than X-Keyscore. And, small point only, allow Key to continue to lie about it.

  10. sabine 11

    interesting report on global spying on internet activity and connectivity

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/snowden-documents-indicate-nsa-has-breached-deutsche-telekom-a-991503.html

    Quote: Treasure Map is anything but harmless entertainment. Rather, it is the mandate for a massive raid on the digital world. It aims to map the Internet, and not just the large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. It also seeks to identify the devices across which our data flows, so-called routers.
    Furthermore, every single end device that is connected to the Internet somewhere in the world — every smartphone, tablet and computer — is to be made visible. Such a map doesn’t just reveal one treasure. There are millions of them

    Quote: reasure Map allows for the creation of an “interactive map of the global Internet” in “near real-time,” the document notes. Employees of the so-called “FiveEyes” intelligence agencies from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which cooperate closely with the American agency NSA, can install and use the program on their own computers. One can imagine it as a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird’s eye view of the planet’s digital arteries.

  11. infused 12

    Key won’t be going anywhere. Especially over such a stupid fucking side show.

  12. karol 13

    Excellent analysis from Keith Ng of the differences between CORTEX and SPEARGUN – the first sits with businesses and IPs; the latter sits on the major highways of our network.

    Agree with him on the email as well.

  13. Tigger 14

    Key will resign. In tears. They’ll be put on for the camera. But he’ll be crying. He’s lied. He’s caught. Time to go.

    • yeshe 14.1

      dear tigger, I like your poem very much. love piglet

    • Rosie 14.2

      Oh if only Tigger! I tend to agree with Tracey’s suggestion above at 8, Key to resign post election.

      The Hollywood version would be much better though.

      • Rosie 14.2.1

        PS, and until he does resign he’ll bluff, deflect and malign and carry on in a childish manner under the influence of a stinking gut rotting hangover, as the reality that the chickens of deceit have well and truly came back home to roost.

        How sad that NZer’s paid the price for his downfall, and what a price to pay, the loss of a basic human right, our privacy and the loss of decent public service orientated governance (ala Dirty Politics).

        Hope on the horizon though. The hope of a win for the Left on Saturday and a return to people centred policy, and hopefully a return to normality in a post Key era.

        And maybe another celebration – Independence for Scotland. We can dance a jig on the grave of this government.

  14. One Anonymous Bloke 15

    Herald readers favouring Dotcom over Key 321:147

    That the email looks like a fake is irrelevant at this point it seems – no-one likes being spied on.

  15. infused 16

    Ill come back to you tracey when im off my phone

  16. infused 17

    Lprent u need some way of inline commenting on thr mobile site

  17. Anne 18

    Lets be clear.

    New Zealanders – have – been – the – victims- of – spying – and – harassement – by – off shore – intelligence – agencies- for – many – years.

    How do I know? Because I was once such a victim. It dated back to spurious and absurd claims involving my late father and moved on to me after he died. Sure, it wasn’t mass surveillance in those days because they didn’t have the technology. But as one who has been on the receiving end, I can appreciate better than most that if they were doing it 20 to 40 years ago, then of course they are doing it now and on a far greater scale than in the past. It beggars belief that anyone would believe a malfeasant liar like john Key over a genius like Edward Snowden who has never been shown to be wrong. And it also beggars belief the GCSB is not implicated.

    This morning I heard Sir Bruce Ferguson venomously describe Edward Snowden as “a traitor”. As someone who has defended him on this site in the past, I am deeply disapppointed. It seems I gave him credit for being more intelligent and discerning, and not a brain-washed and gullible toady to US interests.

    • Rosie 18.1

      Thank you Anne. You’ll know first hand the motivations of a government such as ours and I should imagine feel the sting of it more than most, because it’s personal.

      I heard Bruce Ferguson describe Snowden as “not a credible source”. That was an outrageous thing to say given the evidence Snowden presented last night.

      • Anne 18.1.1

        Yes Rosie it does sting. Together with false claims made by a jealous former associate who was in contact with the perpetrators, they came perilously close to destroying my life.

        In this regard, I have sympathy for Kim Dotcom because I know what it feels like.

        • Tracey 18.1.1.1

          nothing to hide = nothing to fear is the oldest hoax in the world…

          and oh so many buy it and become complicit…

        • Rosie 18.1.1.2

          I’m very sorry to hear that Anne. It’s hard to imagine that despite your treatment you have probably, I’m guessing, remained invisible and unacknowledged for your troubles.

          I’ve had the privilege of spending some time in the company of a veteran activist who has been under the spotlight, quite unnecessarily I should add, of the “authorities” for decades. The stories I’ve heard have left me feeling cold, at the reach of the state into our lives and the personal affect of that.

          What is humbling is that person’s determination and courage to continue advocating and agitating.

          Much respect to you for enduring what you have and for getting through it.

    • Richard Christie 18.2

      Re Ferguson et all, they seem oblivious to fact that those who oppose popular movements against the over reach of the state, always end up on the wrong side of history. Always.

      • Anne 18.2.1

        … always end up on the wrong side of history. Always.

        Indeed always. Too many examples to list in NZ alone!

    • Chooky 18.3

      +100 Anne

  18. brian 19

    Still no weasel response from John Key to his Cortex being irrelevant to his X-KEYSCORE.

    Moment of Truth PLUS 16 hours and counting.
    Key’s “Score” is descending rapidly.

    .

    • Tracey 19.1

      has anyone actually asked him?

      • Rosie 19.1.1

        Thats what I’ve been wondering………

        • karol 19.1.1.1

          An Intercept journalist has asked a series of related questions:

          Why did you inform the public that the GCSB Act would not lead to an expansion of powers when at the same time you were planning the Speargun mass surveillance initiative?

          Why was phase one of the Speargun project completed if it was something that never made it past the “business case”?

          Why were New Zealanders not informed about the Cortex project until the government’s hand was forced by disclosures based on documents from Snowden?

          How much data is collected on a daily basis by GCSB under the Cortex project, and how does the agency ensure this data does not “incidentally” include the content or metadata of citizens’ communications?

          The Cortex documents refer to the use of technology that “has been in use for some time.” What technology is this?

          Is any information collected by GCSB under Cortex — or any other program that accesses internet data — shared with the NSA and/or other Five Eyes agencies through systems such as XKEYSCORE?

          Does GCSB have access to XKEYSCORE and, if so, for how long has this been the case?

          Does GCSB use its access to internet data streams — under initiatives like Cortex or similar — to launch active/offensive cyber operations that involve hacking computer systems to collect information?

          When will you declassify documents detailing the Speargun project and showing that it was not completed?

          • Rosie 19.1.1.1.1

            Thanks karol. Key wouldn’t answer those questions because they come from the “loser’s” website, and not one of his trustworthy “repeaters”, to borrow a phrase from Slater.( Ugh, shudder).

    • Rosie 19.2

      I reckon it’s that stinking hangover he’s got. He can’t get himself together this morning. Either that or he’s plotting his best BS response ever.

    • brian 19.3

      Moment of Truth PLUS 17 hours

      It appears that Key has been with his defence lawyer all morning and has been told:
      “Talk about anything else but your x-KEYscore”

    • Rosie 19.4

      And where are the questions for Peter Dunne? As Greenwald mentioned last night, and we all know, the GCSB Act passed by only two votes, one of them being Dunne’s.

      How much did Dunne know about Xkeyscore and Project Speargun? Was anything disclosed to him by Key during his discussions? Or did Key dupe him like he has the public?

      On 7th July last year Dunne responded to concerns I raised with him as one of his constituents, via email, about his intention on voting for the bill.

      This was his response:

      “My main concerns relate to ensuring proper protection of the privacy of communications by New Zealand citizens and residents and I am presently in discussion with the government about the best way of meeting these.

      My future position on this Bill will be determined by the outcome of these discussions.”

      We know what happened after that. He sold his vote on the condition that their would be an independent review of the GCSB and SIS in 2015 (among a number of other conditions)

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10901514,

      which Key later said wouldn’t go ahead.

      Mr Dunne, do you still have full confidence in John Key and do you believe NZer’s rights to “proper protection of the privacy of their communications” has been upheld?

  19. Dimpost has outlined a particular lie from key. I think this line of questioning will prove very fruitful.

    Also significant: the Prime Minister has changed his story about surveillance in New Zealand three times in the three days. On Saturday there was no mass surveillance and Key said of Greenwald’s allegations: ‘There’s no ambiguity. No middle ground. I’m right. He’s wrong.’ On Sunday he admitted that Cabinet signed off on a business case for the GCSB to investigate ‘mass protection’ of New Zealanders against ‘cyber-attacks’ but that Key cancelled that program outright. ‘It never got past the business case’. Then yesterday he told the New Zealand Herald that the GCSB had tapped the Southern Cross cable for ‘cyber-protection’ but that he had then scaled back the program.

    http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/the-smoking-speargun/

  20. philj 21

    xox
    I heard Sir Bruce Ferguson state at least three times in quick succession on Morning Report, that the leakers were ‘ traitors’. Sir F came across as a vindictive,venal stooge and its scary he was at helm of our security agency.

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