web analytics

GCSB cover-up an “operational matter”

Written By: - Date published: 9:25 am, March 21st, 2013 - 19 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, Spying - Tags: , ,

3 News’ Patrick Gower seems to be incensed by the latest Dotcom revelations:

Dotcom: A systematic cover-up by police and spies

It is sad to say, but it is becoming increasingly clear there was a cover-up by our spies and the police in the Dotcom scandal. I want to make my opinion perfectly clear here: the police and spies are donkey-deep in bureaucratic butt-covering of the highest order. I base this on a reading of the email trails between police and spies as seen in my story last night. …

The police and spies appear so arrogant they covered-up their illegal spying from everyone in the country from the Prime Minister down. …

Even those out there who don’t like Dotcom should be concerned that the police and spies were, in the own words of one of the police officers on the case “a bunch of clowns walking roughshod over the law”. The spy agency the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and the police Organised and Financial Crime Agency (OFCANZ) appear to be in cahoots in trying to cover up an almighty blunder.

It is quite simple and it works like this: spying on New Zealand residents is illegal. It is a basic rule. It is in the GCSB’s own law. Now on December 16, 2011, the spying started. ON THAT SAME DAY, the officer in charge of the case, Detective Inspector Grant Wormald personally received documentation showing Dotcom was a “Resident”. I have that documentation on my desk right now. …

The documents that Labour obtained in the Court of Appeal also show the GCSB also knew from February 20 that Dotcom was a NZ resident – thanks to reading media reports.

  • So the cover-up could have been for nine months (if Wormald turned a blind eye in December 2011).
  • The cover-up could have been for eight months (if police turned blind eye in January 2012).
  • And the cover-up was definitely for seven months (from when the GCSB learned in February).

… The documents show the crisis that ensued from February when the illegal spying was widely realised. After a flurry of worried emails, the GCSB’s legal adviser Hugh Wolfensohn came up with a wrong definition of the GCSB’s law – that made it appear as if the spying was OK, and everybody relaxed. …

Labour has always attacked John Key with the “how could you not know” line. Well the sickening truth now is that there may have been a cover-up by the police and spies – so Key didn’t know, and neither did anybody else.

The reasons why Key should have known have been well covered here before – not least because he is the Minister in charge of the GCSB, and should know what they’re up to. But according to Key:

Mr Key was asked by reporters whether the GCSB should have told him as early as February. He replied that it was an operational matter and he is never involved in operational matters.

Everything that the GCSB does is an “operational matter”, if Key isn’t briefed on “operational matters” then what possible oversight can he provide? What point is there in having a Minister who knows nothing? I think we can safely assume that Key’s predecessor Helen Clark was well briefed on GCSB “operational matters” – but then she was a much better PM than Key.

(Update: Key’s excuse is ridiculous – in fact he was briefed on this “operational matter” – the only question is when.)


19 comments on “GCSB cover-up an “operational matter””

  1. karol 1

    TS is playing up for me. Can’t access a usable version of open mike, other posts were missing the latest posts, though that is better now.

  2. karol 2

    On 3 News last night, Gower fluffed his lines and said “Labour says it’s a stuff up; Key says it’s a cover up”. Maybe Gower really does know, deep down, that Key is covering up….?

    • Anne 2.1

      Well, it was a stuff up and a cover-up by all concerned, and it’s a pedantic point when they actually stuffed up and when they covered up. 😉

  3. GregJ 3

    There’s really only 2 conclusions you can draw from this whole saga – either:

    1. Key has failed in his oversight of GCSB (& oversight of the Security Services is one of the few things the PM actually has to do – aside from chairing the Cabinet) in which case he is incompetent and should resign


    2. He has deliberately mislead the House and the New Zealand Public in which case he should resign

    And I’m not being frivolous or “political” about the above – this should be a matter that people are incensed by (glad to hear Gower is actually doing his job properly on this) and they should be demanding accountability and responsibility from the politician in charge – it’s a serious matter and strikes at the heart not only of our freedoms but also at democratic accountability. This is not a matter of politics – it is a matter of integrity.

  4. Anne 4

    Martyn Bradbury sums it up nicely:

    The arrest of Dotcom is an attempt by the US to establish their jurisdiction over cyber space and and cement intellectual property interests of Hollywood into our culture.


    • Anne 4.1

      Now why did the PM miss the funerals of three NZ soldiers killed in combat?

      Because he had far more important business to attend to in Hollywood before travelling on to his son’s base-ball game.

  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    The story that they’re sticking to is that a senior legal guy in the GCSB stuffed up, and didn’t know who the GCSB is legally allowed to spy on.

    Now that’s pretty damn implausible right off the bat. It’s not like it was an arcane point about alloawble methods covered by a warrant or some shit. It was about as basic as you can get. “Residents; can we spy on them?”.

    But that’s the story the IG accepted and the PM is sticking to, and as long as they stick to it they are golden as far as that goes.

    The problem is that spying on people is a crime. They have admitted that they broke the law in spying on residents. Their defence of it all being abit of an oopsie isn’t as strong here.

    The police don’t have to take your word on that for starters, and to top it off, ignorance of the law is no excuse (even if you did help write the law, ffs). This should go to a jury to decide IMO. Officers should be charged and the evidence heard in court.

    After those verdicts come in we could decide the political accountabilities of the matter, and work out whether Key’s oversight was good enough before and after the events, bearing in mind that he felt no police investigation was necessary.

  6. ghostwhowalksnz 6

    Well Key does have “operational oversight”

    Every warrant the spooks need – which is “some” per year according to the GCSB’s annual report – has to be approved by Key.* The legislation says that he has to exercise “control” over the spies.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      One extra bit;
      From the Act.

      “(3)The performance of the Bureau’s functions is subject to the control of the Minister.”

      • handle 6.1.1

        About Key’s “operational” excuse: Russel Norman was reported last year saying Ministerial involvement in this portfolio is more intrusive than all others, hence that unique “control” wording you noted. Time to repeat that point.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Yeah see. If they had of acknowledged it was illegal and decided to fess up, that would have been something they’d need to bring to the attention of the PM, but once they decided to put in in a box in the corner and lay a blanket over it, it remained an ongoing operational matter that would be inappropriate to talk to him about.

      • xtasy 6.1.2

        We know that in corporations, other business, same as large and not so large government departments, it is very common to punish the “underling” involved in the coal face work for anything going wrong, rather than have the superiors, let alone guys at the very top, disciplined and punished.

        So yes, Key is applying exactly what he learned through his corporate banking and other careers, deny all responsibility and knowledge, and pass the buck.

  7. xtasy 7

    Yeah right, I just got annoyed with someone at the bus-stop, so told another guy sympathetic to my concerns, to kick the nuisance creating individual in the shin. I am not responsible, as between the kicker and the kicked, that was merely an “operational matter” between the two.

  8. Treetop 8

    On 20 January 2012 the NZ Police raided Dotcom’s home.

    Key knew that the GCSB had worked with the Police on the 20 January 2012 operation when he was at the GCSB on 29 February 2012 because reference was made, that the bureau had a role.

    What did Key think that the GCSB were doing for the police that the police could not do themselves?

    Possibly surveillance because of the High Court decision being on a case by case basis when it came to using footage/intercepting phone conversations on private property being permissible at trial.

    So police got it wrong, GCSB got it wrong, Key got it wrong that GCSB could lawfully spy on Dotcom.

    A full inquiry is required to establish where the accountability stops.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • A charge on plastic bags – debunking some myths
    The launch of my Members’ Bill last week, which would introduce a 15 cent charge on single-use plastic bags at the check-out, has generated a lot of comment on mainstream and social media. From The Paul Henry Show at the ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    10 hours ago
  • National’s $1trillion property sandcastle
    The National government's failure to fix the housing crisis has seen the ballooning and unsustainable property market touch the $1 trillion mark, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. "Labour wants an economy that creates high wage work that is based ...
    11 hours ago
  • Government failure on housing crisis drives Reserve Bank to add tools
    If the Government was delivering a comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis, it is unlikely that the Reserve Bank would be continuing to pursue debt to income limits for lending for housing, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    1 day ago
  • International embarrassment for NZ likely over National’s failure to protect Maui dolphin
    New Zealanders who care about Maui dolphin should prepare to feel embarrassed: the Government is about to be put to shame on the international stage for its lack of action to protect Maui’s dolphin. The International Whaling Commissions’ 66th Biennial ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    4 days ago
  • Why don’t we spend $1b to keep people out of jail, rather than spending it on keeping them in?
    Earlier this week, Corrections Minister Judith Collins announced the government’s ‘solution’ to our burgeoning prison population. It seems that most, if not all, of Bill English’s hard-won surplus is going to disappear into another round of prison-building.  That must be ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    5 days ago
  • PKE Ship Sent Packing – Not Too Soon
    It is appropriate that the palm kernel expeller (PKE) ship off Tauranga has been sent packing. For weeks I have been saying this ship needed to be sent away, but it seems as if MPI has been trying to find ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    5 days ago
  • Do you #LoveSnow?
    I was a lucky kid. When I was about five or six my mum and auntie took me up to Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu and taught me to ski. As a young kid I thought there was no bigger ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    5 days ago
  • Awa Kairangi/Hutt River – Swimmable?
    On Thursday night I hosted a great swimmable rivers meeting organised by the local Greens in Heretaunga (Hutt Valley). It was great to see about 70 people attend and engage in the topic. We were welcomed by Te Atiawa representative ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    5 days ago
  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    5 days ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    6 days ago
  • Barry Coates on his first weeks in Parliament
    Week one in Parliament has been quite an occasion. I would like to share the experience. I had given up on the prospect of getting into Parliament before the election and had been enjoying the diverse work I was doing ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    6 days ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    6 days ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    7 days ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    7 days ago
  • Vote Sooty Shearwater/Tītī for Bird of the Year
    Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) are amazing and deserve your vote in Forest and Bird’s Bird of the Year competition.  They make one of the longest known bird migrations, flying an annual round trip of 64,000 kms across the entire Pacific ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    7 days ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    1 week ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    1 week ago
  • Energy use going in the wrong direction
    New data out this week from Statistics NZ paints a concerning picture of energy use across the economy under this National Government. You won’t be surprised to hear that there is some seriously worrying information here about how dirty our ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 week ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    1 week ago
  • Junior Doctors go on Strike
    Thousands of junior doctors took strike action for 24 hours this week for better working conditions and safer working hours.  The Green Party supports their cause, and particularly their claims to reduce the number of days worked from up to ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    1 week ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    1 week ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    1 week ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    1 week ago
  • Strengthening our relationship with the Rātana movement
    It was a privilege to visit Rātana Pā last week with fellow Greens’ Co-leader James Shaw, our Māori Caucus and senior staff to meet with the leaders of te iwi mōrehu, to strengthen the ties between the Green Party and ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    1 week ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    1 week ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disconnected thinking dirties the water
    Iain Rabbitts’ belief that drinking water quality, charging for water use and the land use that leads to water quality degradation should be treated separately is part of the problem we have right now in this country. The connection is ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Report back from Hands Off Our Tamariki hui
    This week I attended a hui in Otaki organised by Hands Off Our Tamariki about the proposed reforms to the Child Young Persons and their Families Act. Moana Jackson and Paora Moyle spoke.  They expressed deep, profound concern about the proposed ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s visionless immigration policy
    National’s recent immigration announcement is a continuation of the visionless approach to government that it has displayed in the last three terms. Rather than using the levers of government to implement a sustainable immigration policy that benefits new and current ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seclusion rooms in schools
    Schools are undoubtedly stretched and underfunded to cope with students with high learning support needs. But this cannot justify the use of rooms (or cupboards) as spaces to forcibly isolate children. It has emerged via media that this practice continues ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Public should get a say on new Waikato power station
    I had an opinion piece published in the Waikato Times about a controversial proposal to build a new gas-fired power station. It’s not on their website yet, so here it is: If you think the public would get a say ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • MSD and their investment approach
    The Government talks about investment but there is no investment. It is not investment if it isn’t over the whole of life and if there is no new money  — Shamubeel Eaqub   Investment sounds like adequate resourcing but this ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Certainty needed for community services
    A couple of months ago I was at a seminar where three community organisations were presenting. Two of the three presenters were waiting to find out if their organisation would get a contract renewed with MSD. Not knowing if their ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Domestic Violence – some advice for the media
    For the purpose of this piece, I’m going to use Domestic Violence (DV) as a proxy for intimate partner violence. DV is not isolated to physical abuse in a relationship between people with the same power. DV is a pattern of ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Leroy’s New Paw Prints
    Leroy, an Auckland great dane recently received a new 3D printed bionic leg after cancer was discovered. I think this is a fantastic story and highlights the real potential of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing Leroy’s prosthetic was printed in titanium and was ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago