An interesting article by lawyer Steven Price at Media Law Journal. Some extracts quoted, but well worth going and reading the full article:
Some questions for the PM
I’m struggling to find the provisions in NZ’s policy about the classification of documents that allow the PM to declassify documents for the purpose of protecting his reputation (his word, not mine, on Morning Report this morning). Perhaps the PM could help me out here.
The PM has said he would declassify documents to prove he stopped a mass surveillance proposal, in response to criticisms by journalist Glenn Greenwald (and, it seems, whistleblower Edward Snowden).
A few other questions spring to mind:
Why were these documents classified in the first place, and who by? What was the security classification?
If they were classified secret or top secret, what was the “serious” or “exceptionally grave” damage to our security operations that would have been caused if we’d known about them, say, at the time we were debating the proper content of our spy laws? …
Who is directing the reclassification? Because it sounds like the PM is ordering it. …
So what’s the PM doing making this call? Hasn’t he always told us that operational decisions are the domain of the agencies themselves? (And isn’t his office under investigation for rapidly having SIS information declassified and released to Cameron Slater?)
If the PM is making this decision, is protecting his own reputation a proper consideration? …
Go and read the whole article at Media Law Journal.