Written By: - Date published: 8:07 am, September 15th, 2014 - 64 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, democracy under attack, john key, national, same old national - Tags: GCSB, Glenn Greenwald, kim dotcom
Anthony R0bins has already posted on this but the subject is that important it needs a few looks at it.
I am sure that all eyes will be on Kim Dotcom’s Auckland meeting tonight.
Glen Greenwald’s arrival in New Zealand and the disclosures he has already made have added extra spice to what has already been an out of control election campaign. If it gets any stranger it should be tested for the consumption of hallucinogens.
John Key has slipped into abusive mode. Calling Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter a “henchman” and implying that his opinions can be bought demeans the office of the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Unfortunately it reflects Key’s view of humanity. Anyone thinking that scientific opinions can be bought and sold must have a terribly dark view of humanity.
John Key during the weekend came out swinging and said that although a “business case” had been prepared by the GCSB for the mass surveillance of New Zealanders he had, after quite some time, put a hold on it. The phrase “business case” is interesting. Putting a monetary value on the violation of our rights of privacy shows how dollar centric this Government is.
Andrea Vance has set out a helpful timeline. In November 2011 two New Zealand corporations were subject to a cyber attack. Rumours are that one of them was Fonterra and that the attacks originated from China. The response of the Government was to contemplate the mass surveillance of New Zealanders. But you have to wonder why. As said by Danyl McLaughlan “[h]arvesting meta-data about phone calls or web traffic of New Zealand citizens does absolutely nothing to stop Chinese hackers targeting Fonterra or MFAT. It’s a bit like your local police officer saying ‘I think someone is trying to break into your house so I’m gonna drill peepholes in the walls of your bathroom and bedroom’.” The phrase “never let a good crisis pass you by” springs to mind.
Key says that he put a stop to it. But here is the jaw dropping feature about the work. It was started in early 2012 and Key only told the GCSB to put a hold on it in March 2013. According to his version it is clear he changed his mind presumably only after the controversies surrounding the GCSB came to light.
Key has promised to declassify and release GCSB documents that he says will back him up. It makes you wonder why the documents were classified in the first place as well as why they should be declassified for political purposes. And why at the time we were not told about this most intrusive of projects.
It may be that the documents will back Key up. But I have always wondered about the 5 eyes network. What is to stop the mass collection of data being analysed by an agency free of the legal restraints that existed at the time in New Zealand and then handing the results over to local agencies?
As I type this Guyon Espiner is asking Key these very questions. And Key is sounding very evasive. He does not think that it was in the public interest to let us know that the Government was considering our mass surveillance. Let me repeat that, he does not think that it was in the public interest to let us know that the Government was considering our mass surveillance.
And how can you reconcile this with Key’s August 2013 statement that he would resign if the GCSB conducted mass surveillance. Unless he was going to implement the proposed change and then resign you have to conclude that this is the most disingenuous of statements.
Key is hoping to bamboozle and befuddle his way through this. He is relying on the use of arcane language and weirdly drafted law to get by and to pretend that everything is not what it seems and that it is just too confusing anyway.
Greenwald has responded by pointing out that plans were well advanced. He has documents stating that phase 1 of the GCSB’s plans (accessing the Southern Cross cable) had been achieved and phase 2 (metadata probes) was under way.
It may be that Key is right and Greenwald is wrong. But even on Key’s version the Government planned on our mass surveillance for twelve months and Key and the Cabinet knew about it and we were not told.
A final word Glenn Greenwald from his book “No place to hide”:
The U.S. government, in conspiracy with client states, chiefest among them the Five Eyes—the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—have inflicted upon the world a system of secret, pervasive surveillance from which there is no refuge. They protect their domestic systems from the oversight of citizenry through classification and lies, and shield themselves from outrage in the event of leaks by overemphasizing limited protections they choose to grant the governed.…
Tonight should be very interesting.