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Fletcher-Key meetings: networks of influence

Written By: - Date published: 8:23 am, April 24th, 2013 - 90 comments
Categories: accountability, class war, john key, slippery, Spying - Tags: , ,

Well, now it comes out that Key met with Ian Fletcher on several occasions before and immediately after Fletcher was appointed to the top job at the GCSB.  As I argued previously, in “Networks of influence”. Key works to make the most of the (not unusual) strategy of cultivating networks.  For Key, he cultivates certain kinds of networks related to wealth, power, the entertainment industry and intellectual property.

Yesterday, as reported by Andrea Vance, the State Services Commission released information about some meetings between Key and Fletcher, and they are significant in how they slot into the timeline of the appointment of Fletcher to the boss of the GCSB.

  • March 12, 2010 - breakfast Hyatt Regency in Auckland. *
  • June 14, 2011 - Key signed off interview panel
  • June 17, 2011 – Key and Fletcher ate together at Auckland’s Stamford Plaza Hotel

“Three days earlier, Mr Key had signed off on an interview panel for the job, which included then Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Maarten Wevers. Mr Fletcher was the only person to be interviewed for the post, after a shortlist of four other candidates was rejected”

  • May 2011 - GCSB job advertised
  • June 2011 – Key pulls plug on appointment process
  • July 2011 - Key calls Fletcher to tell him about the GCSB job
  • August 3, 2011 - Key phoned Fletcher Rennie phoned Key to update him after his Fletcher's interview
  • September 2011 – Fletcher appointed to GCSB
  • October 3, 2011 - Key and Fletcher both attended dinner at the residence of the British High Commissioner

So, this reinforces just how much Key took a special interest in appointing a crony and a person who had specialised previously in intellectual property and commerce, as well as intervening in the appointment process.  Now Key wants to legalise surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB.  The proposed changes to the intelligence services have been criticised by a professor of cyber security and forenics as being “a step towards totalitarianism” and “comparable to Big Brother.”

The Andrea Vance article ends with a list of all the times Key had changed his story over his meetings with Fletcher and his intervention in the appointment process.  Key was clearly covering up the extent of his friendship because of what it reveals about the cronyism, the unusual prime ministerial intervention and Key’s preoccupation with intellectual property, commerce, and the refocusing of the GCSB on such matters.

* And for those that claimed I was making dubious and fictional connections by saying that Key had almost certainly met Fletcher in Auckland around 11 March 2010 – I said it was logical based on the evidence, and so my “almost certain” turns out  to be proved certain.

90 comments on “Fletcher-Key meetings: networks of influence ”

  1. Tigger 1

    The reputations of Fletcher and Rennie have both been irreparably damaged by Key’s lies.

    Vance has done a pretty good job of letting the facts speak here.

    More to come? How soon before Collins uses this to roll Key?

  2. felix 2

    And before all the wingnuts turn up to say ‘So what? Nothing wrong with having breakfast’ the significance is that he has lied about it at every turn.

    • wyndham 2.1

      And he always looked as though he was lying!

      • Jim Nald 2.1.1

        All along, it was obvious he was lying.
        It has been a matter of pinning down the bastard.

        • Vagabundo 2.1.1.1

          And the fact that he’s lied about it from the get-go raises the question of “Why?” Why is he lying about it? Is he trying to hide something? What might that be?

          I hope the irony of the fact that had Key been a little more upfront about his role in the selection process, a lot of this would have quietly blown over isn’t lost on him.

    • Mary 2.2

      That’s right. When I saw Andrea Vance’s article I thought the media would be all over it, for the lying alone.

      • karol 2.2.1

        Yes. I can’t make any sense of the NZ Herald article on it that headlines: No mention of Key recommendation/shoulder tap in papers on GCSB appointment. I guess it says the details of the meetings don’t explicitly say that Key intervened in the appointment process:

        None of the historic documents released today by the State Services Commission on the appointment of Ian Fletcher as director of the Government Communications Security Bureau indicate that Prime Minister John Key knew him or shoulder-tapped him for the job.

        So the fact that Key met Fletcher for a breakfasts etc prior to his phone call notifying Fletcher of the job vacancy, is not evidence that Key knew Fletcher?

        • RJL 2.2.1.1

          The point is that the documents should have mentioned Key’s involvement, if he was being clear and transparent during the appointment process about his supposedly entirely legal and innocent involvement. It’s like declaring a conflict of interest — the declaration should actually be properly documented.

          • karol 2.2.1.1.1

            Yes that’s the point Robertson is making, as quoted in the article. Yet the article obscures that, and manages to bury it in the middle of a confusing report.

            I think many readers will read the article as saying the newly released papers exonerate Key.

    • TheContrarian 2.3

      Don’t you mean ‘forgetting’?

      My 90 yr old grandmother has a better memory track record than Key

      • felix 2.3.1

        No, I mean lying.

      • freedom 2.3.2

        On this declaration alone, In the House, Key has flat out lied about [breakfasts/lunches/dinners/petanque games/spabaths and who knows what else] with regards to Fletcher on three separate occassions that I have witnessed, and I have not seen every sitting this past month

    • QoT 2.4

      Only because he knew us lefties hate breakfast and would turn an innocent act of hash browns against him.

  3. Lanthanide 3

    In politics it’s always the coverup that gets you.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    Interesting that Key denies ‘discussing the interview’, which could be strictly correct.

    As by now it was obvious to both men that Fletcher was going to get the job – the only applicant- and more important was what happens afterwards.

    Im sure they discussed GCSB matters in general and maybe more specific items we dont yet know about

  5. ianmac 5

    Put this in wrong place:
    I’ve been thinking. Let’s assume that Mr Key believed at the time that he was acting unlawfully in his recruitment. He would feel obliged to duck and dive to avoid scrutiny. And did so until a week after the question was raised, he discovered that what he did was actually legal. Oh the agony! Oh the irony!
    All that ducking for nothing. Fire that PR man and lick your unnecessary wounds.

  6. Linz 6

    •June 2012 – Key pulls plug on appointment process
    Shouldn’t that be June 2011?

  7. One Anonymous Knucklehead 7

    In the whole Army none should be closer to the commander than their spies.
    None more highly rewarded. None more confidentially treated.
    Tzun Tsu.

    What rewards has Key offered? What confidences?

    • freedom 7.1

      “Sadistic crap legitimized by florid prose” Simon Tam -Firefly

      yeah Key is probably a fan

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 7.1.1

        “Sadistic”? I suppose someone who hadn’t read it might think so.

  8. Logie97 8

    So Key in all probability also knew that the agencies of a “friendly-foreign-power” were interested in someone residing in New Zealand and wanted to conduct a secretive raid on this individual. It just beggars belief that the leader of a sovereign nation would not be briefed on such a situation.

    Anyone giving odds that this will also be exposed sooner than later?

    • Red Rosa 8.1

      +1. Onto it. Key has been following orders from Washington on DotCom, right from square one.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        And not just Dotcom I’ll wager. This security and surveillance expansion too, most likely.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    At this point Key should either be resigning in shame or being fired. Neither will happen because Key doesn’t feel shame for lying to NZ and because National have no principles.

    • freedom 9.1

      can the GG can sack him for failing in his duties to protect the sovereignty of New Zealand and the integrity of the Office Of Prime Minister? If not why not! 🙂

      • ghostrider888 9.1.1

        from a poll reported on ONE;
        Trust in the GCSB;
        -NOT=32%
        -in the middle =33%
        (now, combined, for ya average New Zealander, that is quite significant mistrust)

        • karol 9.1.1.1

          The report on the poll is here:

          Security expert Paul Buchanan said the proportion who do not have full confidence in the intelligence agencies is quite extraordinary.

          “It shows a degree of skepticism on behalf of the New Zealand public,” Buchanan said.

          Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson said there is no doubt that the Kim Dotcom affair “and all of the things that have followed with that” has damaged New Zealanders’ confidence in the GCSB.

          Buchanan said that lack of confidence could have a flow-on effect.

          “It is very possible that we will not see our allies share sensitive intelligence with us in specific instances,” he said.

          The poll also shows a political divide. Those who tend to trust the intelligence agencies are more likely to support the National Party, and those who are more suspicious tend to vote for Labour or the Greens.

          That last sentence could be indication of a chicken-egg situation – support of the National Party may have been eroded by the GCSB revelations.

      • Red Rosa 9.1.2

        The GG? Mataparae was director of the GCSB himself for a while, in 2011, before resigning to take up the GG position. The whole thing gets murkier and murkier….

        Key has been twitchy every time DotCom questions are raised, and no wonder. He has to tell a complex and barely credible story which would test the best actor’s memory.

        Key should never have denied knowing DotCom to begin with. Half the Helensville schoolkids could have given him chapter and verse on the man, his cars and his mansion. After that porkie, has credibility just keeps winding down.

      • Anne 9.1.3

        Gough Whitlam was sacked by the Aussie GG – Kerr. His crime? He upset the Yanks but we never did get to find out why…

        • prism 9.1.3.1

          Anne
          Wasn’t there a plan for some very large investment in developing rice growing in the north of Australia, very ambitious – think-big stuff – and to be funded by borrowings from Pakistan or such? Anyone who knows better can put me right if they want. Could have been that this didn’t show the proper orientation which was to the friendly USA ally.

          • Anne 9.1.3.1.1

            @ prism
            I don’t think there was much love lost between the USA and Gough Whitlam. A bit of research has brought it back to me. Whitlam was trying to cool relations with the USA and he was also wanting to reduce the power of the Australian Senate and (perhaps) get rid of them altogether. The Senate got wind of it and voted down the Whitlam govt’s money supply thus preventing them from being able to govern. The G.G. stepped in and sacked Whitlam.

            The irony is: according to one recently ‘leaked document’ the Americans predicted Whitlam wouldn’t last long which is code for saying… we told Kerr and his mates to get rid of him.

  10. How can ANYONE believe a word this ex-foreign exchange dealer /
    derivatives market gambler / Prime Minister of New Zealand – shonky John Key says?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8588475/Key-met-spy-candidate-for-breakfast

    PS: I was contacted by the Counsel for the GCSB on Friday 19 April 2013, and told I would get a reply to my Privacy Act request within 20 working days.

    So – by 9 May 2013 – I expect to know whether or not I an one of the 88 New Zealanders whom has been unlawfully spied upon by the GCSB.

    Good enough for me – good enough for others.

    Remember – if YOU want to know if you are one of those 88 New Zealanders, send
    a Privacy Act request directly to the GCSB – Information@gcsb.govt.nz

    You can phone the GCSB directly – (04) 472 6881

    Cheers!

    Penny Bright’
    ‘Anti-corruption/anti-privatisation’ campaigner

    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate

  11. Chris 11

    Just a point the article doesn’t say that Key called Fletcher on August 3. It says that Rennie rang Key to update him.

    • karol 11.1

      Thanks, Chris – my error and it has been corrected.

      • Chris 11.1.1

        After looking around a bit more doesn’t look like it was your error. According to Whaleoil it did use to say that Key rang Fletcher (including in the print version of the article) and was later updated to say Rennie rang Key

        • felix 11.1.1.1

          Bit shit of a newspaper – who’s job it is to hold power to account – to change the record when the PM changes his story.

        • karol 11.1.1.2

          Ah, thanks, Chris. I just checked with the scan of the hard copy on Press Display. It does indeed say:

          “Mr Key again telephoned phoned Mr Fletcher after his interview, on August 3, to offer an update.”

          I’ve printed that version of the article out for future reference, in case anything else changes.

          I thought I must have misread it this morning before I had enough coffee to focus my brain.

          • Alanz 11.1.1.2.1

            Download Cute Pdf and use it to save electronic copies of webpages for the record?
            I have been finding some NZ news or government pages very difficult to locate and have been saving them for future reference.

  12. That is funny I was sure I posted something here on the subject of Key’s networking and how he has used it before to his advantage. Is this the silent treatment by just removing it without any explanation as to what I did wrong?

    It has happened before and it seems to me that while you do correct others if their behavior displeases you so why not deal the same way with me?

    [lprent: We do. You have to be banned before we silently kill comments. But check in OpenMike if they are off-topic then we sometimes shift them there. If we don’t want them for whatever reason then we put [deleted] on them.

    However a commonish problem when the server is sluggish (as sometimes happens when lots of comments are flowing), you have to wait until the page comes back after you punch in the comment. I’ve lost a few messages on various sites by jumping off elsewhere. These days I tend to duplicate the page (chrome) to work on next before pressing Send. ]

    • karol 12.1

      travellerev, are you talking to me? I haven’t removed anything of yours. You assume The Standard posts and moderations are the work of one person.

      • travellerev 12.1.1

        Hi Karol,

        No, I don’t assume that at all Karol. I just made a general approach because I don’t know who was moderating today, ‘s all.

        If you were the moderator and did not remove anything of mine I’m stumped. Anyway let me grab this opportunity and tell you I think you’re doing outstanding work here at the Standard!

        And I’ll just post the stuff I posted before (Or thought I did) again in the hope I just made a stupid mistake!

        • karol 12.1.1.1

          OK. I wasn’t sure if you meant you’d posted something on this thread, or on what day, travellerev. I just checked in the spam folder and the trash, and can’t see any post from you that had been removed today.

          Thanks, travellerev & Paul.

      • Paul 12.1.2

        +1 Karol. Your posts are outstanding.

  13. North 13

    We are witnessing a spectacle which must be unprecedented in NZ politics.

    Today we find there is yet ANOTHER jigsaw piece in the Koy Felcher Affair. “Breakfast”.
    Oh well if you insist, mundane enough, a superb, pushing 30 bucks breakfast at the Stamford I guess. They probably only talked about how the Warriors were doing in the NRL. That’ll seem quite sensible when next week Shonkey Python lets it out that also at the breakfast was knight of the realm Sir The Mad Butcher.

    But taihoa. It’s further proof, absolutely conclusive since it’s from the man himself, that his first claims were designed to cover-up/deceive. He’s had weeks to get it right. Incredibly he still hasn’t achieved that. Still coughing up yet new pieces of the puzzle.

    What can that mean ?

    (1) The question of prime ministerial infirmity is a live on ?

    (2) There’s still (much bigger) stuff he’s hiding which he won’t let out unless forced to ?

    (3) As hinted by Logie97 above, breakfast chat between Chief Spy in waiting and the
    PM/Minister/MP included chat about Helensville electorate resident Dotcom and
    foreign friendly power interest in him ?

    My money has to be at least on (2). For the quinella I’ll toss in (3). And of course for the trifecta, well you never can overlook (1). I mean he’s said it himself – “I haven’t got a clue hahaha aren’t I funny ?”

    Knowledge of the whole Dotcom number months and months and months before he told Parliament he first knew, that makes so much more sense than anything we’ve been given so far. A mate, a safe and trusted pair of hands to run the whole show, an archetypal “Yes Minister” character able to control information flow to the boss and keep him in the dark as unilaterally deemed necessary by Sir Humphrey, well that wouldn’t be a bad thing now would it ?

    Hurry up Kim Dotcom, whistleblower or whomsoever. Just a hint please. I’m itching to place a solid Pick Four bet.

    • felix 14.1

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with me having breakfast with Fletcher, or for that matter with my appointing him.

      The reality is I’m genuinely clueless as to why I’ve been lying about it all along.

    • emergency mike 14.2

      So he’s not bovvered. How wonderfully reassuring.

      “The breakfast meeting happened days before a panel to conduct interviews for the position had been selected, but at that stage Mr Fletcher had not been approached to apply.

      Mr Key says they discussed economic development in Australia, but the job at the GCSB did not come up.”

      Nah, and Dotcom didn’t come up in those 15 GCSB briefings either.

    • BLiP 14.3

      How odd. That story shows in a google search as being on the radionz site but when you click through its gone? Sssup wid dat?

      • felix 14.3.1

        Down the memory hole.

        Becoming a bit bloody frequent, that. I think we need to force a conversation about bringing the msm players into line with the following internet protocols:

        1. Once something is published it stays published, and

        2. Alterations are clearly noted as updates rather than re-writes.

      • Colonial Viper 14.3.2

        Contact the webmaster might just be a broken link. Happens.

        • felix 14.3.2.1

          It also happens that stories get changed, sometimes entirely rewritten, with no indication given.

          Quite frequent on the Herald and Stuff sites. Not good enough.

  14. My two cents on John Key’s idea of networking!

    To Conspire comes from the Latin word Conspirare which in its essence means: to breath together. John Key knows a lot about breathing together. Every time he meets his mates in back rooms at breakfast or tea tables ( here, here and here) they breath together and funny stuff happens such as this and this and perhaps this. So when John Key says they didn’t TALK about important stuff remember this: They did BREATH together and formed a united front and communal story and you and me are losing out because of it!

  15. BM 16

    Did this make the TV news?

  16. RedLogix 17

    The goss I got today was that even Key’s natural constituency … business people… know that he’s stepped over the line with this.

    Sure you can network and shoulder tap people you want for the job. But then at the very least you go through the appearance of fair process. You interview all the candidates, and you keep your man at arms length. If you decide halfway through the process that you want to change the criterion or the nature of the role, then you re-advertise and go back to square one. All this is basic Business 101 ethics.

    Six months ago I head-hunted someone for my organisation, and even at my dmrse level I knew what the boundaries were. And so does almost every other decent employer in this country. And now their man John Key has just taken the piss out of their values and by extension a mockery of what they believe in.

    It doesn’t really matter how much us lefties rant and froth about this … the real cost is the deep damage Key’s inflicting in true blue National territory.

    • BM 17.1

      People seem to have very short memories.

      • karol 17.1.1

        Yes, John Key and Banks have some difficulties with their memories.

      • RedLogix 17.1.2

        At one level this is true BM. Key’s deal-making instincts have taken him a very long way. But you also know perfectly well that when Key betrays fundamental fair process values as he has done here, he damages just not his credibility …. but his trustworthiness with people who once trusted him.

        Once that is lost everything he does will be viewed through a different and much more jaundiced lens.

        • BM 17.1.2.1

          but his trustworthiness with people who once trusted him.

          They’ll still vote for him though.
          The biggest issue here is the sloppiness displayed by Key,he’ll be kicking himself for the way this has played out.
          He’ll come away from this a lot more focused and with a much harder edge, labour better be on its game otherwise hard times ahead.

          • RedLogix 17.1.2.1.1

            Maybe. But look back at Key’s career before he came back to NZ. The way I read it this has happened to him before. He starts out the wonderboy… and then this kind of thing happens.

            • felix 17.1.2.1.1.1

              vto once said of him “He will fail at the peak, it’s written in his character”.

              Or something like that.

          • felix 17.1.2.1.2

            “a lot more focused and with a much harder edge”

            Ooh, careful. No-one likes that about him. Lovable dickhead, relaxed about it, that’s what people want to see.

            Hard-edged businesslike dead-eyed psychopath, not so much.

          • Matthew Whitehead 17.1.2.1.3

            Neither the Labour Party nor the Greens need to be worried about Key, it’s what his marketers will do and how the right-wing media will try to spin their policies that they should be concerned with.

          • North 17.1.2.1.4

            BM you didn’t even read what RL said.

            It’s about trust.

            Not about whether Shonkey Python will rise from the ashes.

            You say trust is ABSOLUTELY NOT a live issue right now ???

            Oh Kia Ora. The Earth’s flat too.

            Faith can be dangerous, as we know.

            • BM 17.1.2.1.4.1

              Of course he will rise, he’s hardly even singed.
              Key is not a man to fuck with, he has barely had to get out of first gear in the last 4 years because the opposition has been so feeble.
              This GCSB beltway nonsense has given him the kick up the arse he really needed, expect to see a much tougher no nonsense persona from here on out.
              As I said earlier, labour and Shearer especially better be bringing their A game from now on out, otherwise expect to be slaughtered.

              • Colonial Viper

                no more prancing down fashion runways?

              • felix

                “he has barely had to get out of first gear in the last 4 years because the opposition has been so feeble.”

                Yeah that’s true.

                Actually I’d go further – he’s hardly had to get out of neutral. Trouble is when he did have to, he bunny hopped all the way down the drive.

                He’s been spinning his wheels ever since and has attracted the attention of all the neighbours.

                Unfortunately some of them seem to have noticed that he’s been drinking, and others are wondering if he really has a driver’s license.

                “expect to see a much tougher no nonsense persona from here on out.”

                Not smart. He was elected to be the country’s best mate.

              • North

                Aue !……….. Shonkey Python Rambo aye ?………..Where can I get the doll ?

                You sound like a punch drunk old boxing promoter going off at the sports editor of Truth.

              • kiwicommie

                National has done all the opposition’s work for them, probably if John Key’s croonies in the GCSB and intel agencies had done things legal then Dotcom would be facing court in the US right now. They do a great job of shooting themselves and their backers in the foot. 😉

              • Whatever next

                BM is that for ” bowel motion” because that’s what you talk.

          • Colonial Viper 17.1.2.1.5

            They’ll still vote for him though.

            Uh, no, they might never vote Labour, but being busy on Election Day happens all the time.

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