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

    or

    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.

    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/03/21/what-is-really-behind-the-kim-dotcom-case/

    • 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.
    http://thestandard.org.nz/key-needs-to-read-the-gcsb-act

    • 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 6.1.1.1

          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

  • Ports of Auckland decision a win for workers and the environment
    Ports of Auckland’s decision to no longer release the toxic fumigant methyl bromide into the atmosphere is a win for their workers and for the environment, says Labour’s Spokesperson for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor.   “The intention to move to a ...
    1 hour ago
  • Single Child Tax hidden in Budget
    Buried in National’s so-called family Budget is a Single Child Tax that will hit medium to low income families, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. ...
    4 hours ago
  • Commerce Commission investigates Ron Hoy Fong
    The decision by the Commerce Commission to investigate Ron Hoy Fong and his questionable advice to property investors to use fake names and target ‘dummies’ is good news, Labour’s spokesperson on Consumer Affairs Michael Wood says.  “I am pleased that ...
    2 days ago
  • National running out of excuses on Pike
    The latest Pike River revelations further erode National's position of blocking a manned re-entry of the Pike River Mine drift, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 days ago
  • Nats’ Budget locks in housing crisis
    National’s ninth Budget forecasts house prices will rise at three times the rate of wages, locking in the housing crisis for years to come, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “After nine years, all National can offer is a ...
    3 days ago
  • Small change that is sorely needed
    The big headline of the Government’s Budget yesterday was its Family Incomes Package – a range of measures including changes to income tax thresholds and the Family Tax Credit. Overall the Budget is a huge disappointment and a missed opportunity ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    3 days ago
  • Kids bear the brunt of Budget
    Future generations are the ones bearing the brunt of National’s failure to provide education services the funding they need to make ends meet, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “For nine years in a row the Government has told our ...
    3 days ago
  • The real costs of National’s election bribe
    The cost of National’s poorly-targeted election year budget bribe is that there’s nothing to fix the housing crisis, health funding is cut, and funding for schools is cut, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “As the dust begins to settle ...
    3 days ago
  • Health running on empty
    Get ready for more cuts to health at a local level, affecting all New Zealanders, after a Budget that failed to deliver even enough for health services to stand still, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “District Health Boards this ...
    3 days ago
  • Nats’ budget a double-crewed ambulance parked at the bottom of the cliff
    National’s election year Budget shows that there’s no coincidence Finance Minister Steven Joyce doubles as National’s campaign manager, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The 2017 Budget reveals a lack of vision, and is simply an election year budget with ...
    4 days ago
  • After nine years, it’s the One Dollar Bill Budget
    National’s Budget 2017 is an irresponsible election bribe which after nine years exposes a government that’s run out of energy and ideas to tackle the big issues facing New Zealand,” says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “This is simply cynical electioneering ...
    4 days ago
  • Alfred Ngaro might be sorry – but to whom?
    The fact that the number of people classified as homeless on the Social Housing Register has doubled over the past year alone should be the real reason for Alfred Ngaro’s recent apologies, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “As ...
    5 days ago
  • Government’s data-for-funding backdown embarrassing
    The Government’s U-turn on their shambolic attempt to collect private client data from social services is an embarrassment for a senior Minister, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “After months of criticism and mismanagement, the Government has finally cut ...
    5 days ago
  • Overloaded hospitals reach crisis point
      The country’s hospitals have reached breaking point with some hospitals discharging patients to free up bed space and patients with serious injuries having to wait hours to be seen by a doctor, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   ...
    5 days ago
  • National fails on critical school building needs
    Students are paying the price of the Government’s failure to invest fast enough in school buildings to keep pace with Auckland’s increasing population, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Parents should lay the blame for their children having to put up ...
    5 days ago
  • Tipping culture is not welcome in NZ
    Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett’s comments about tipping have been in the news and have sparked off a series of furious discussions about tipping in Aotearoa. From our point of view, tipping every time you’re provided a service is a ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    6 days ago
  • Mental Health a huge cost for Police
      The cost of dealing with mental health incidents for our police was a staggering $36.7 million which shows just why we need Labour’s fresh approach on Mental Health, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “Police now ...
    6 days ago
  • Grant Robertson: Speech to Otago-Southland Employers Association
    Thanks to the Otago Southland Employers Association and Virginia for hosting me this evening.  It is always a pleasure to come back to the city and region that shaped who I am as a person. I believe that growing up ...
    7 days ago
  • Renting a home in the Wild West
    It can be tough renting a place to live, and it could be about to get tougher. Radio NZ is reporting that the American Rentberry app wants to start operating in New Zealand. Rentberry allows landlords to play perspective tenants ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    7 days ago
  • Free West Papua leader in Aotearoa
    Last week I hosted Free West Papua leader Benny Wenda at Parliament and travelled with him to a number of important events. Benny is spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua and lives in exile in England. 14 ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Nats unprepared for record immigration
    National’s under-investment in housing, public services, and infrastructure means New Zealand is literally running out of beds for the record number of new migrants, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour opposes Ports of Auckland sale
    Labour would strongly oppose the sell-off of the Ports of Auckland to fix a short term cash crisis caused by the Government blocking the city’s requests for new ways to fund infrastructure, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. “National ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Workers pay the price of Silver Fern’s Fairton closure
    The threatened closure of Silver Fern Farms’ Fairton Plant in Ashburton raises serious questions about the Government’s support of the sale of half of the company to a foreign company, when it appears this outcome may have been inevitable, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s answer to the housing crisis: One new affordable house per 100 new Aucklanders
    National’s fudge of a housing plan will make Auckland even more of a speculators’ paradise, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government can’t be trusted with private data
    The independent review of the Ministry of Social Development’s data breach in April has shown, once again, that the Ministry cannot be trusted with private client information, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “The investigation by former Deloitte chairman ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Another crisis, another half-baked National plan
    The National Party may have finally woken up to the teacher supply crisis facing our schools but their latest half-baked, rushed announcement falls well short of the mark in terms of what’s required, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
    Alfred Ngaro’s recent comments have exposed the Government’s ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’ approach, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Breaking news – National admits there’s a housing crisis
    National finally admits there’s a housing crisis, but today’s belated announcement is simply not a credible response to the problem it’s been in denial about for so long, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “National can’t now credibly claim ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats lay the ground for housing bust
    Goldman Sachs’ warning that New Zealand has the developed world’s most over-priced housing market, with a 40 per cent chance of a bust within two years, shows the consequences of National’s nine years of housing neglect, says Labour Housing spokesperson ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?
    Property investors’ lobby groups have been up in arms this week about Labour and Green parties’ plans to close tax loopholes and fix the housing market. That’s probably a good thing. Like an investor in any other sector, they expect ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Alfred Ngaro reflects National’s culture of silencing debate
    Image from Getty Images Community groups must be free to advocate for the people they serve. It’s these people who see first-hand if ideas dreamt up in Wellington actually work on the ground. It’s essential that they can speak freely ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Bill English must reassure community organisations
    The Prime Minister must do more to reassure community organisations after Cabinet Minister Alfred Ngaro's apparent threats to their funding if they criticise government policy which has left a born-to-rule perception amongst many, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Alfred Ngaro ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Extremism and its discontents
    Another scar on global democracy appeared recently, this time in Germany.It seems that the number of soldiers on duty with extremist political leanings has become a concern to the military leadership in that country. Soldiers were found openly possessing ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s suicide approach disappoints
    Mike King’s sudden departure from the Government’s suicide prevention panel, amid claims the Government’s approach is ‘deeply flawed’, is further evidence National is failing on mental health, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. “Mental health is reaching crisis point in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National backs speculators, fails first home buyers
    National is showing its true colours and backing speculators who are driving first home buyers out of the market, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “By defending a $150m a year hand-out to property speculators, Bill English is turning his back ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More oversight by Children’s Commissioner needed
    More funding and more independence is required for the Children’s Commissioner to function more effectively in the best interests of Kiwi kids in State care, says Labour’s spokesperson for children Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to end tax breaks for speculators; invest in warm, healthy homes
    Labour will shut down tax breaks for speculators and use the savings to help make 600,000 homes warmer and healthier over the next ten years, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “It’s time for fresh thinking to tackle the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Health of young people a priority for Labour
    Labour will ensure all young people have access to a range of health care services on-site at their local secondary school, says Labour’s deputy leader Jacinda Ardern. “Our policy will see School Based Health Services extended to all public secondary ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ratifying the TPPA makes no sense
    The recent high-fiving between the government and agricultural exporters over ratification of the TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) is empty gesture politics in an election year. Ratification by New Zealand means nothing. New Zealand law changes are not implemented unless the ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    2 weeks ago
  • NIWA report proves National’s trickery re swimmable rivers
    National have a slacker standard for swimmable rivers than was the case prior to their recent so-called Clean Water amendment to the National Policy Statement (NPS), says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker. “The table 11 on page 25 of the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • MPS shows new approach needed on housing
    The Reserve Bank’s latest Monetary Policy Statement provides further evidence that only a change in government will start to fix the housing crisis, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “It is more evident than ever that only a Labour-led government ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Fresh approach on mental health
    Labour will introduce a pilot scheme of specialist mental health teams across the country in government to ensure swifter and more effective treatment for those who need urgent help, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little. “Mental health is in crisis. It ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Sallies back Labour’s plan for affordable homes
    The country’s most respected social agency has endorsed Labour’s KiwiBuild plan to build homes that families can afford to buy, and delivered a withering assessment of the National Government’s housing record, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Education is for everyone, not just the elite
    Proposals by the National Party to ration access to higher education will once again make it a privilege only available to the elite, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Speaking at the Education Select Committee, Maurice Williamson let the National ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Cancer support changes far too little, certainly late
    Anne Tolley’s belated backtrack to finally allow Jobseeker clients suffering from cancer to submit only one medical certificate to prove their illness fails to adequately provide temporary support for people too sick to work, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Kids must come first in enrolment debate
    The best interests of children should be the major driver of any change to policies around initial school enrolments, not cost cutting or administrative simplicity, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.   “The introduction of school cohort entry is ...
    3 weeks ago