Call me cynical but I just don’t think it’s credible that it took over two weeks after Key supposedly learned of the GCSB’s involvement in the Dotcom raid before they realised he given a presentation featuring Dotcom by GCSB a month after the raid. They’re amateur, they’re not that amateur. No, I think the ‘presentation on a laptop screen’ (and isn’t it funny that Key can remember the size of the screen but not what was on it?) is a red herring.
It has never been believable that the GCSB just screwed up on whether or not Dotcom was a resident. And it has never been credible that Dotcom – the rich, flamboyant guy who lives in Key’s electorate and has been all over the media for the best part of a year – never came up in any of the 15 briefings Key has had from GCSB this year. They don’t hide that stuff from the PM. If, they told Goff about their suspicions that Mossad agents had been in Christchurch, they would have told Key about Dotcom as a matter of course. By January 24th, Key was well-briefed on the Dotcom raid, it is unbelievable that his knowledge would not have included the fact that the GCSB was involved.
In fact, the February briefing indicates that the GCSB was proud of its involvement in the Dotcom raid – they would have seen no reason to keep it from Key. If they did, it was a massive vote of no confidence in him, and an attempt to escape democratic oversight.
Now, why do I think that the briefing is a red herring? Not because it doesn’t matter. Key ought to have been paying attention at a briefing given to him by the organisation of which he is the sole democratic oversight. When Dotcom came up, he should have started to ask questions. Question number 1 should have been: ‘isn’t that guy a Kiwi resident? I know he is’. Key’s credibility as the right man to watch over our spooks is shot to hell by the clear disinterest he showed in the briefing.
But Key is using the briefing as a red herring because it allows him to pretend that the only mention the GCSB made of Dotcom to him was in passing and for him to make it about a simple memory failing on his part for two reasons:
1) this isn’t about Key’s memory. It’s not about whether he now remembers what the GCSB told him about Dotcom, it’s about what he did as the minister with the statutory duty to “control” the GCSB at the time. Key is trying to make it about his memory of a single briefing (‘I get thousands of briefings, the screen was small’ – sounds fair enough)
2) I don’t believe that the only time the GCSB mentioned Dotcom to Key was in a passing reference. It would have been a substantive part of a briefing – probably before the raid. Even right back when Key first said he hadn’t heard of Dotcom until the day before the raids, it stunk of a lie – an attempt to disassociate himself with a prominent person living in his electorate. By offering up the slide-show, Key is hoping we won’t ask about any other knowledge he had of the GCSB’s involvement.
If Key succeeds in making us think that the briefing is all there is and the issue there is a memory fail, he will have succeeded in minimising the issue. That said, he’s still told us that he goes along to briefings given by the GCSB and doesn’t pay attention and doesn’t ask questions despite the law ordering him to “control” the spooks. It’s still a hell of an admission of failure as a minister.