So John Key is relaxed about the possible role that New Zealand has in extra judicial killing via drones that is occurring far too often.
He was asked yesterday in Parliament about the subject.
David Cunliffe asked if he had “sought or received any advice on whether remote operations such as drone strikes against non-combatants or in non-declared conflicts are compatible with international law?” Key’s response was a terse “no”.
Key said earlier this week that he was totally comfortable with the GCSB passing on intelligence which led to drone attacks on foreign soil because it was in the pursuit of “very bad people”. The Herald article by Issac Davidson then says this:
The Prime Minister said he was not briefed about the drone strike which killed New Zealander Daryl Jones in Yemen last year.
“I wasn’t aware of … and didn’t have any involvement or prior knowledge of that particular strike.
“What I can say is that New Zealand has internationally in the past … gathered information, Afghanistan is an example of that, and that information is given to ISAF [International Security Assistance Force].
“What ISAF used that information for and how it’s actually used, I don’t know but I can’t rule out that that isn’t used for activities undertaken by the Americans.”
Asked whether this information could have led to drone strikes, he said: “It’s possible. I can’t rule that out.”
He added: “It would be in the pursuit of trying to hold to account very bad people.”
Key’s candour is unusual. Normally you would think that he would avoid the subject by claiming the issue related to an operational matter. Martyn Bradbury has suggested that Key knows what sort of information is going to be released by Edward Snowden in due course and is getting ready for it and I suspect that Martyn is right.
Idiot Savant and Gordon Campbell have both expressed misgivings as to the legality of what is happening. It is difficult to understand how International Law could sanction the indiscriminate killing of children in third world countries.
And this brings into strong focus the importance of metadata. As said by David Cole:
Of course knowing the content of a call can be crucial to establishing a particular threat. But metadata alone can provide an extremely detailed picture of a person’s most intimate associations and interests, and it’s actually much easier as a technological matter to search huge amounts of metadata than to listen to millions of phone calls. As NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker has said, “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.” When I quoted Baker at a recent debate at Johns Hopkins University, my opponent, General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, called Baker’s comment “absolutely correct,” and raised him one, asserting, “We kill people based on metadata.”
John Key’s indifference to all of this is plain to see. Holding to account “very bad people” by extrajudicial killing of civilians, including a New Zealander is something that a civilised nation should not countenance.