ImperatorFish: An apology from the Law Society to John Key

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, June 27th, 2013 - 20 comments
Categories: john key, Satire, Spying - Tags:

Scott at Imperator Fish has kindly given us permission to syndicate posts from his blog – the original of this post is here.

Dear Prime Minister,

It appears that we may have made a terrible mistake.

We made a detailed submission outlining our concerns about your government’s plans to increase the powers of the GCSB.

We expressed deep concerns about the rushed process to change the law, and about the intrusive nature of the proposed changes.

We concluded that it was difficult to see why urgent legislation was required.

“It is not possible to identify any tangible or meaningful concerns from the Explanatory Note to the Bill and the accompanying ministerial press release, beyond an allusion to helping the GCSB ‘get on with the job of helping New Zealand public and private sector entities deal with the growing threat of cyber-attack’”, we said.

“It seems that the underlying objective of the legislation is to give the GCSB powers it lacked previously: the power to conduct surveillance on New Zealand citizens and residents. No explanation or justification for the conferral of this power is given”, we went on to say.

We pointed out in our submission that the powers to spy on civilians are exceptional, and we expressed dismay that the legislation was being promoted under urgency.

“Exceptional legislation that intrudes on basic rights demands sober and deliberate consideration, not perfunctory treatment under urgency”, we warned. We recommended that more information be provided by the government to justify why this legislation was necessary.

We made numerous other recommendations about how the legislation could be improved, and how safeguards could be included to protect the public.

But it looks like we were wrong.

You have told Parliament and the media that you disagree with us. You haven’t said why, but we now accept that you know better than us.

You have said there are bad people out there who might want to hurt us. You have said that we need to make sacrifices if we are to remain safe, and that means trading away some of our civil liberties.

Benjamin Franklin said: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Clearly, though, Benjamin Franklin was wrong. The old fool! Just as we are obviously wrong, because you know better than everyone else.

You haven’t explained how giving the GCSB increased powers will make us more safe. The legal powers of that agency may end up being expanded under the proposed legislation, but recent history suggests that the GCSB may remain hampered by habitual incompetence. It is difficult not to conclude that if the GCSB were ever asked to organise a beerfest in a brewery, they would fuck the entire thing up.

And these are the people meant to be protecting us. These are the people you want to give more powers to. You think these incompetents can keep us safe from bad people, whoever those bad people might be.

Well, Mr Key, you know best. We’re just a bunch of lawyers with concerns for civil liberties, due process and the rule of law. The people who wrote our submission may have spent years studying how our legal system works, but you’re the boss, right?

We accept now that you may not share our opinion about what is right and proper in a democratic society. We expect you will have been casting around in search of competing views in the hope of convincing your supporters that all opinions are equal; and no doubt you will find someone who thinks allowing us to be spied on is just fine. Ask your Attorney General if you’re struggling. The Attorney General is normally meant to uphold and maintain our legal traditions, but this one seems happy to tell you anything you want to hear.

We see now that the best response to our spies being caught breaching the law is to give them more powers, so that they can do almost anything they want. What could go wrong?

We also now accept that your many years of experience doing deals and trading foreign currency make you a better judge of constitutional and legal matters than us. We merely studied the law. You created it on the hoof, as and when it pleased you to do so.

You accuse anyone who questions you on this issue of being soft on security, and you imply that they don’t care about the safety and welfare of New Zealanders. But history tells us that unrestrained state power can be just as damaging to the safety and security of a nation’s citizens as any external threat. It is legitimate to ask who protects us from our spies and security agencies.

Or so we thought. Sorry about that. You must know all of this already, and you must have weighed all of these factors up when you decided our spies needed more power. We didn’t appreciate that you were a student of history. We all imagined that you probably spent what little leisure time you had reading Richard Branson books or Tom Clancy novels, rather than important scholarly texts.

What use is all our combined wisdom when arrayed against your everyman common-sense? What worth have all the combined teachings of the great common law jurists, like Blackstone, Coke, Denning, Wendell Holmes and Brandeis, compared to your sense of what is right and wrong?

We therefore defer to your greater wisdom and withdraw our submission, with sincere apologies for any inconvenience our quibbling may have caused you and your people.

Note: This post was obviously not written by the Law Society. It is satirical. I’m only stating the obvious so that nobody within that noble and enlightened organisation (I love you guys!) decides to get cross with me.

20 comments on “ImperatorFish: An apology from the Law Society to John Key”

  1. vto 1

    ha ha, gawd…..

    imagine if a buffoon like Key had some actual real power in NZ. Now that would be scary.

    hang on a minute

    • emergency mike 1.1

      “I don’t agree with the Law Society that it expands the mandate of the GCSB,” he said at his post-cabinet press conference on Monday.

      “What it does is clarify fully in the law what has been the historical behaviour of the GCSB under what they believed was their legal authority… this had been going on for a very long time under previous governments.”

      So the GCSB have illegally spied on people that they weren’t allowed to for years because they just couldn’t understand the law about who they were allowed to spy on. (Tui ad here.) And now NAct wants to punish them by… making it legal. According to John Key that means that ackshully, nothing would really change, the GCSB wouldn’t have any new mandate because they’ve already been doing it for years anyway.

      Jeez imagine if NZ was a country where our PM could get away with saying crap like that.

      Hang on a minute…

      • Arfamo 1.1.1

        He doesn’t have much of a vocab. Wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t know what “mandate” actually means. Can often not make up my mind whether he’s being clever or ignorant with his choice of words.

        • felix

          Clever, a lot of the time. It’s a practiced technique. Use words out of context to eliminate any literal meaning, can’t be held to any meaningful statements later because on paper it looks like he didn’t make any, even though at the time everyone thought they knew what he meant.

  2. Hayden 2

    John Key is the pre-eminent expert in everything, he needs no advice.

  3. Jan 3

    Listen to what US whistle-blowers Sibel Edmonds and Russ Tice have to say about reasons for surveillance. Is talk of protecting NZ just smoke and mirrors?

    • UglyTruth 3.1

      Protection is the biggest racket that humans are involved in.

      Russ Tice worked as an offensive National Security Agency (NSA) from 2002 and 2005, before becoming a source for this Pulitzer-Prize winning The New York Times article exposing NSA domestic spying.
      This week he appeared on the Boiling Frogs Show and detailed how he had his hands “in the nitty-gritty, the nuts and bolts” during his 20 years as an U.S. intelligence analyst.
      Tice claimed that he held NSA wiretap orders targeting numerous members of the U.S. government, including one for a young senator from Illinois named Barack Obama.
      “In the summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-some-year-old senator from Illinois. You wouldn’t happen to know where that guy lives now would you? It’s a big White House in Washington D.C. That’s who the NSA went after. That’s the President of the United States now.“

  4. ianmac 4

    A brilliant illumination of the folly of the GCSB reforms.
    What a pity that NZ as a whole are not involved in such reforms and that those who are well informed from a Legal perspective are ignored/ridiculed by Mr Key. In the early 2000s all parties were in involved and the 2003 Act was passed by all parties.
    But now? Probably hangs on the mood of Mr Dunne.

  5. Kevin Welsh 5

    If the GCSB couldn’t operate lawfully under the existing legislation, what hope do they have acting lawfully under the proposed legislation?

  6. Augustus 6

    I posted a comment under the Stuff article yesterday to the same effect, suggesting that we don’t need law experts, as John knows best. It was moderated out.

  7. Mary 7

    Somebody should grill Key in the House on whether he’s read the submission and what he thinks about it. Can almost guarantee Key would say that he hadn’t or at least that he might’ve but can’t remember. Would make for great entertainment at least. If it’s done well might even make him look foolish.

    • Chris 7.1

      It doesn’t have to be done well to make Key look foolish… he manages that all by himself

      • Mary 7.1.1

        I wish that were the case but I think a more accurate assessment is that the opposition is so hopeless they make even Key look competent.

  8. BLiP 8

    What’s all the fuss? We have elected John Key to represent all our best interests and bolster our protection against against the predations of foreign and domestic enemies . . . surely we should leave him to get on with it. Its not like we can’t trust him when it comes to his own portfolio . . . oh, hang on:

    – the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom was an isolated incident

    – first I heard I heard about Kim Dotcom was on 19 January 2012

    – first I heard about the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom was in September

    – I did not mislead the House (6)

    – Iain Rennie came to me and recommended Fletcher for the GCSB job

    – I told Cabinet that I knew Ian Fletcher

    – I forgot that after I scrapped the shortlist for GCSB job I phoned a life-long friend to tell him to apply for the position

    – I told Iain Rennie I would contact Fletcher

    – for 30 years, or three decades, I didn’t have any dinners or lunches or breakfasts with Ian Fletcher

    I did not mislead the House (9)

    – cyber terrorists have attempted to gain access to information about weapons of mass destruction held on New Zealand computers

    – the law which says the GCSB cannot spy on New Zealanders is not clear

    – the GCSB has been prevented from carrying out its functions because of the law governing its functions

    – it was always the intent of the GCSB Act to be able to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of the SIS and police

    – because the opposition is opposed the GCSB law ammendments, parliamentary urgency is required

    – the increasing number of cyber intrusions which I can’t detail or discuss prove that the GCSB laws need to be extended to protect prive enterprise

    – National Ltd™ is not explanding the activities of the GCSB with this new law

    . . . oh dear.

    (EDIT: has anyone seen John Key make reference to the Boston Bombings in relation to this issue? If so, DOX PLOX)

    • r0b 8.1

      has anyone seen John Key make reference to the Boston Bombings in relation to this issue?

      If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear

      • BLiP 8.1.1

        D’oh!! Thanks r0b.

        I reckon the allusion by John Key qualifies as a lie on the basis that for all the spying the US does on its (and our) citizens it did not prevent the Boston Bombing. Key seems to be taking his lead from the US in its own defence of NSA which, although usually being reprinted unchecked by the MSM, more and more of it is coming undone.

        Time for a distraction . . . hey, lets talk about the environment!!

  9. rob 9

    Show us the money John, er should that be show us some honesty
    Some of us still have memories that go back to 2008

  10. “Reason is the life of the law” ~ Edward Coke.

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