web analytics

Key needs to read the GCSB Act

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, October 2nd, 2012 - 23 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, john key, Spying - Tags:

I’ve just heard a clip on the radio from yesterday’s post-Cabinet press conference where Key says that we would all be very scared if he had control over the GCSB. That might be an insight into his vision of dictatorship on Planet Key, but it’s also wrong. Key is the only democratic control on our spies and he has extraordinary 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. Is he exercising that role properly, or is he just signing whatever the GCSB puts under his nose?

*(the spying on Dotcom, we’re told, would not have required a warrant had it been legal because it didn’t involve installation of bugs or hacking of computer systems)

23 comments on “Key needs to read the GCSB Act ”

  1. Hilary 1

    I thought that the GCSB Act actually specifies the Minister has ‘control’ of the agency. This wording is not found in other Acts.

  2. I agree that we should be more afraid if there is no democratic overview of GCSB.  If there was no overview I predict that GCSB would make a habit of overstepping its powers, acting without legal authority and showing no respect for the rights of individuals … just like it is now funnily enough.

  3. framu 3

    also – hes deliberately (or not) confusing the issue – i dont think anyone saying he should be controlling every aspect of GCSB operations.

    Its the fact he didnt seem to know about a huge multi national and multi agency operation and didnt catch that it was illegal (or get it checked to make sure for himself) – he didnt do his job of ministerial oversight

    not that the GCSB decided to do it or what colour shoes they wore

    Its not the first time a pollie has deliberately reworded things to muddy the waters

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      +1

      He definitely should have known about a multi-national operation that the GCSB was taking part in.

      • insider 3.1.1

        is he a psychic? How can he know if it is kept from him (either deliberately or by oversight)? What process or method should he employ?

        “hey guys, just in case I get asked, you haven’t been doing anyhting illegal this month have you?”

        • framu 3.1.1.1

          yeah your missing the point too

          – Keys is using the “people are saying i should be deciding every detail” line to reframe the criticism

          when the issue isnt him knowing every detail – but him knowing the major detail

          do you think key needs to be making decisions about who gets investigated in order to be informed about whats going on?

          Please dont tell me your that silly

          • insider 3.1.1.1.1

            I come back to the question: How does he know if he is not told by the people in positions of trust in his department? What systems would you put in place that balance the separation of the minister from operational issues with those things he ‘needs’ to know?

            • framu 3.1.1.1.1.1

              you can come back to your question till kingdom come – but its still got nothing to do with john key trying to frame the criticsim of his performance as being somehow a call for him to decide who the gcsb investigates.

              do you think taking an active decision making role is the same as being informed?

              because thats what key is trying to claim

              • insider

                It is not a reframing it is pointing out the delicate balance that exists between ministers and depts and the risks entailed when people like you and Russel Norman, with the benefits of hindsight, demand perfect knowledge. What should he have done and when, and how should he have known to do that?

                Ministerial oversight does not include directing the bureau or digging in to find out what operations it is carrying on, and that if he takes on that role there are very real risks. The Director is responsible for operations. If the minister starts digging round wanting to randomly know details of operations, there is a risk he then starts telling them what to do and to whom – look at what happened to Benson Pope and Nick Smith for examples of how easily and badly that can go wrong. That is not something I want and not something history tells us is a good thing when it comes to state security agencies.

                • Colonial Viper

                  It is not a reframing it is pointing out the delicate balance that exists between ministers and depts and the risks entailed when people like you and Russel Norman, with the benefits of hindsight, demand perfect knowledge.

                  But we don’t need Key to have “perfect knowledge”, do we?

                  We simply want to know what Key knew about a major surveilliance operation carried out by the organisation he happens to oversee. An operation which was carried out in preparation for a major US-NZ armed law enforcement action. It seems like Key should know if the GCSB is helping out the FBI in preparation for an armed raid, don’t you think?

                  You seem to be saying that there is nothing to answer for at the top in what was a very clear balls up.

                  Ministerial oversight does not include directing the bureau or digging in to find out what operations it is carrying on, and that if he takes on that role there are very real risks.

                  Again, it’s not what we’re asking for. Ministerial oversight includes ensuring that the organisation you are responsible for is not acting illegally and outside of their mandate. And if concerns of that nature are raised, Ministerial oversight includes finding out what the fuck happened, and how the fuck it happened.

                  • insider

                    Who said it was ‘a major surveillance operation’? Only you and only in hindsight. It could be fairly mundane in terms of what they do day to day. And they weren’t working with the FBI, they were working with the NZ Police. And if that is the threshold for telling the minister, that’s a pretty low threshold for an organisation that is probably working daily with a number of major overseas intelligence agencies.

                    Key accepts that he is accountable for the bureau activity. He’ told them he should have been briefed on the operation (given its high profile) and presumably set new rules of engagement in place.

                    There is an ongoing failure to point out when he shoudl have known and how he should have known that in the absence of his own people telling him.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      And they weren’t working with the FBI, they were working with the NZ Police.

                      The police were working for the FBI and so, by extension, was the GCSB. This should have been communicated to the GCSB by the police and then on to the minister(s) responsible. This raises two questions:
                      1.) If that information wasn’t passed on why wasn’t it and who failed to do so?
                      2.) If that information was passed on why is John Key now telling us that it wasn’t?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      There is an ongoing failure to point out when he shoudl have known and how he should have known that in the absence of his own people telling him.

                      How do you know this is what happened? Have the results of the investigation been published somewhere?

                • McFlock

                   If the minister starts digging round wanting to randomly know details of operations, there is a risk he then starts telling them what to do and to whom – look at what happened to Benson Pope and Nick Smith for examples of how easily and badly that can go wrong. That is not something I want and not something history tells us is a good thing when it comes to state security agencies.  

                    
                  So in other words, the minister who is required by legislation to “control” the department should not know what the department is doing in case it tempts the minister to control that department? 
                         
                  The very fact that the GCSB apparently broke the law and did not inform its democratic master before, during or after doing so demonstrates that the greater risk comes from an unsupervised security department.
                            
                  Therefore Key and English were negligent in their oversight of the security services. With consequences that edge us closer to the banana republic dictatorship those services should protect us from. Couple that with shit like ECANZ and CERA, key looks less like a dick and more like a psycho driving the country to the lip of an abyss.

                  • insider

                    People break the law deliberately and inadvertantly all the time. Govt departments and employees aer no exception. We don’t have precogs to stop that. Unless you come up with some new miracle cleaner that can stop it, no amount of law writing or controls will ever be enough. All you can do is clean up the mess afterwards and try to learn.

                    GCSB broke the law, but only after taking legal advice from qualified people experienced in the field that it wasn’t. There is nothing ministerially negligent in that. The minister wasn’t told about involvement in KDC at the time. That was a judgement call by officials. Again how is the minister negligent? The minsiter was told when GCSB realised its legal error. Yet again, what should he have done? Sought an alternative legal opinion about something he didn’t know was happening, that had been legally misinterpreted before he even knew it had been, just in case?

                    • BloodyOrphan

                      Hang on a minute, If Dotcom had an application for residency in the works, then he must a given certain rights within NZ while it’s being processed.
                      Furthermore he was granted residency, so those rights would have been upheld.

                      Those minister(s) must have ordered the Investigation, otherwise the above fact would have stopped the GCSB in it’s tracks.

                    • McFlock

                      1: the minister failed to communicate and demand acceptable standards of behaviour from his department;
                        
                      2: the minister failed to hold his department accountable when failures in those standards eventually came to light;
                        
                      3: the minister has fostered a culture within his department, cabinet and government which regards “legality” as a negotiable value that should be pushed to the limit that you can buy a legal opinion around, rather than a line that should be avoided on the side of caution;
                       
                      4: the minister failed to keep tabs on the department he is legally obliged to control;
                         
                      5: the minister failed to maintain communication with his deputy regarding important decisions made in his absence;
                          
                      6: the minister failed to ensure that the other security services overseer kept tabs on the activities of the minister’s department;
                           
                      7: the minister tasked an overseer who failed to detect an apparent illegality by the department at the time to determine why the apparent illegality occurred, leading to a conflict of interest (if the responsibility for the apparent illegality rests with the department the investigator was overseeing, the investigator failed in their monitoring duties. This is an incentive to scapegoat someone other than the department).
                           
                           
                      All in all, Key’s demonstrated gross incompetence in governing a single department, let alone the country.

                    • framu

                      “The minsiter was told when GCSB realised its legal error”

                      um – wasnt the illegal spying continued after that point?

                      didnt key previously say he hadnt heard of KDC till the day before the raid?

                      So which is true?

                      i dont think key was kept in the dark at all – but even if we take him at his word – it still doesnt add up – hes telling fibs somewhere.

                      And for the record – im not demanding perfect knowledge – just the teeny tiniest skerrick of knowledge

                    • McFlock

                      Ah, but when the GCSB were originally told that they were in error, they had followed Key’s “water quality scientist” example and reckoned they had legal opinions to say different. They only “realised their error” when it became obvious to them that their legal opinions were bullshit and they were in the crap. I.e. September, when the court case began to make it relevant.
                               
                      And that’s the “best-case scenario for Key, even though it stinks like a waterway in dairy country (“perfectly clear, 100% pure” reckons Key’s science consultant). 

                    • insider

                      1: where’s the evidence for this?

                      2: so why the investigations going on?

                      3: again you are making this up.

                      4: no evidence of that

                      5: perhaps but I think this is more an official’s job.

                      6: again no evidence

                      7: the overseer is not a permanent placement looking at decisions made in the course of the working day. You need to read the act to understand his powers. He either carries out formal inquiries or he audits processes and warrants. He doesn’t look at individual decisions unless there is a complaint or he has reason – he had no reason because there was no knowledge of a breach.

                      Your Personal distaste for key and vivid imagination is not a good substitute for analysis.

                      @framu

                      The illegality was only discovered in recent weeks. Do you not get that?

                    • McFlock

                      1: The fact he had to issue an apology

                      2: Which investigation? The initial 5 page report Key thought was good enough, the additional investigation by the cabinet sec’y after it was obvious 5 pages was bullshit, or the police investigation that comes from a criminal complaint filed by the opposition?

                      3: Reasonable evaluation based on the disagreement between cops&GCSB re: legality of GCSB actions.

                      4: The department he controls apparently committed illegal actions in a major case of which he claims to have had no knowledge. No idea what his department is doing in general, no idea of major instances of concern

                      5: It’s his job to ask question about the department he allegedly controls.
                         
                      6: The overseer failed to… (see 7)

                      7: audits processes and warrants. Like, for example, the processes by which the department ensures that it is not spying on New Zealanders. The processes by which the department confirms that changes in residency status are updated as quickly as possible and surveillance legality re-evaluated. The processes by which agents and managers are held accountable for ensuring the basic legality of their operations.
                         
                      I.e. your claim there was no knowledge of a breach points to a failure to ensure that systems were in place to prevent breaches and identify those that occur.
                           
                      The fact of the apology suggests that any systems in place failed to prevent a specific failure. That is a failure in process analysis, which is a failure in management and a failure in oversight. Assigning the overseer to investigate a possible failure in the overseer’s ability to audit the department’s processes is an apparent, even if it turns out to not be an actual, conflict of interest. 

                      Key’s an incompetent dilettante. I think he’s an incompetent dilettante because of multi-threaded clusterfucks like this.

  4. ianmac 4

    Surely the PM’s role would be at least to be kept in the loop? Even if he doesn’t sign off approval for each and every surveillance, I cannot believe that at least a year ago the PM was not looped/head upped into the pending Dotcom raid. How can Mr Key be so proud when he said I had not even heard of Dotcom until the day before the raid? Sort of “Ha ha. I didn’t know anything about Kim Dotcom or anything about an international operation about one of our residents. Aren’t I a clever chap to know nothing?”
    No Mr Key. It stinks.

  5. captain hook 5

    I doan fink kweewee can ekshilly rede.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago