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Leaky McCully gives Mfat (another) headache

Written By: - Date published: 10:01 pm, February 21st, 2012 - 31 comments
Categories: accountability, International - Tags:

National’s getting a reputation for not being able to keep its secrets secret.

When it’s National’s political plans (Hollow Men, “we would love to see wages drop”, secret tapes, tea tapes) it’s a public good when this info gets out.

When it’s free and frank, and classified, communications with a minister about our diplomatic relations, that’s a risk to NZ.

As we see a taste of the McCully emails, we wonder when Key’s going to hold his minister to account for his disregard for security.

Now, if you believe the Nat spin line, so faithfully reproduced by Farrar, then you’ll be saying ‘what’s the problem? These emails are dull as!’.

Well, these are two risks to New Zealand’s interests here:

1) the undiplomatic language in these emails. They’ve clearly been selected to show that they have got hold of some very frank exchanges, some of which may offend other countries. You see, New Zealand’s foreign relations are pretty dull on the whole, not much of substance will surprise in the emails, but the tone and the opinions voiced about other nations may give diplomats a headache.

2) other countries share sensitive information with New Zealand all the time. Classified information, valuable intelligence on a wide variety of issues from Australia, the US etc is entrusted to Mfat, which uses it for its own purposes and similarly exchanges classified information with them. These countries are not going to be so free with sharing information with New Zealand if they know the minister is leaving this stuff on his personal email.

And there’s a personal risk for McCully. Word is he started using his private address for communications with the ministry so that certain communications with a certain press sec could be off the record…

Update: the initial email released by the hacker group Comrades was from John Hayes. The most interesting line in it is reference to the need to “resist China”. This is what I was talking about in point 1). We all know that China’s rising power is a challenge to our own objectives in the Pacific. Not least of all because we can no longer effectively sanction bad rulers; they just turn to China instead and sell their UN voting rights in return for no-questions-asked aid. But for a Parliamentary Private Secretary, a member of the government, to be caught stating our objectives in relation to China in such antagonistic terms is going to be a problem.

Various people are suggesting this isn’t really foreign hackers. On the evidence, I agree. Pissed off insider, methinks.

31 comments on “Leaky McCully gives Mfat (another) headache ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Someone please replenish McCully’s minibar.

  2. McFlock 2

    Also, given that it would appear some MFaT folk have been bitching about other sections direct to the minister, it would also damage the department through petty politicking as individuals and sections struggle to survive the culls.

  3. Jackal 3

    Looks like it might damage international relations as well.

    David Farrar doesn’t just say the emails are dull, he thinks the debacle will help McCully’s popularity. He’s off his rocker!

    Has anybody even heard of TheComradez hacker collective from Russia before? They were apparently undertaking an international hunt for military secrets, but how exactly TV3 would know this is anybodies guess… and why did the media initially say it was Anonymous?

    TheComradez say: “New Zealand’s government security is very easy to bypass”.

    Unnamed insider to McCully: “Mindless wasteful admin crap from wellington”.

    Unnamed insider to McCully: “Take a look at the MFAT phone book as it shows who is doing what where… ominously singling out jobs that are all back office”.

    Unnamed insider to McCully: “Criticizes a Pacific secretariat that gets 5 million dollars in taxpayer funding but, The SPC meeting had 176 attendees for 6 days and cost $250,000 for almost no result”.

    Unnamed insider to McCully: “Some outfit we are supporting under NZ Aid flew a person to Noumea to give a 12 minute presentation”.

    According to an NZ expert called Philip Whitmore, the hacker group responsible is known as a blackhack group. I’ve never heard of that either.

    If they intend to blackmail McCully with the information they hack… it is reasonable to presume then that they do indeed have something worth blackmailing with, but are just toying with McCully.

    And a no show from Key and McCully. I can’t see how any of that is going to make McCully popular.

    • rosy 3.1

      They were apparently undertaking an international hunt for military secrets

      And so they stole McCully’s emails!? Sorry, but that’s pretty funny.

      But the fact that they did – couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person. I wonder if they have any on McCully’s other portfolios… Minister for Sport & Recreation, and unofficial Minister for Dark Political Arts.

      • Jackal 3.1.1

        I know… that bit is seriously weird! But I guess it’s all about opportunism. McCully pretty much put a huge neon sign above his email address that said “come hack me”. What an idiot!

    • James 3.2

      According to an NZ expert called Philip Whitmore, the hacker group responsible is known as a blackhack group. I’ve never heard of that either.

      Not blackhat?

  4. ianmac 4

    On TV3 they said that there was more to come.

  5. And there’s a personal risk for McCully. Word is he started using his private address for communications with the ministry so that certain communications with a certain press sec could be off the record…

    But nothing is off the record. if the informationis held by the Minister in their official capacity, then its official information and subject to the OIA, no matter what format or storage medium it is in. Hell, the OIA even applies to information in Minister’s heads, which means you can tell them to write stuff down, and offer to extract it surgically if they refuse.

    “Private” email accounts only hide information if the Minister is going to break the law. And then their staff should be having a quiet word to the Ombudsman about it.

  6. Jenny 6

    More Secrecy, less Democracy.

    More Democracy, less Secrecy.

  7. Uturn 7

    Perhaps Russian “hackers” are far more intelligent, informed and widely read people than I’ve ever met, but why would a military hack turn into a case of domestic politics relevent to NZ’s current media discussions i.e. cost cutting and Chinese buyers?

    Russian miltary hackers spending all their time studying NZ domestic politics for a time sensitive media drop? Must be a slow hacking year. Bollocks.

    A hacker whose identity changes depending on who you ask, offering things we already know, filtered through an unethical media outlet, endorsed by a blogger who drinks so much it seems to have caused mental retardation.

    The reason Key shrugged it off is because he knows that, armed with this material, the only way you’ll bring him down is with an election or a wooden stake during the day. Every week there is another example of incompetence and corruption – and nothing happens.

  8. Pascal's bookie 8

    Keith Ng has some very worthwhile thoughts and questions;

    http://publicaddress.net/onpoint/secret-military-lulz/

  9. Bill 9

    Did this jump out like a set of dogs bollox, or did this jump out like a set of dogs bollox?

    We all know that China’s rising power is a challenge to our own objectives in the Pacific. Not least of all because we can no longer effectively sanction bad rulers; they just turn to China instead and sell their UN voting rights in return for no-questions-asked aid

    Oh noes! Them pesky rulers that don’t ‘toe the line’ have got options that might allow them to retain a degree of independence in their dealings with the world!

    ffs eddie! The world isn’t comprised of ‘black hats and white hats’. The west (whose policies NZ usually supports) promotes and defends bad bastards too you know. (You need a list?) And didn’t Japan buy up some UN votes? And don’t the US do it too? Of course they have and do! And for what? Well, fuck me if it isn’t usually in return for aid or to avoid some aid or support being discontinued.

    India used to succesfully play the US and the USSR off against each other in terms of aid, support and so on. Good politics. Did India a lot of good. So, the fact that countries now have the opportunity to play the west off against China is a bad, why?

    Do you think every country should ‘toe a line’ that is drafted by ‘the west’? What you’ve effectively said is that any who depart from that line are de facto, ‘bad’ and in cahoots with a bunch of crooks, shits and bad bastards under the sway of the biggest, baddest, bastard crook on the planet (ie China).

    Never thought I’d see an old 70’s style ‘Marvel Comics’ sub-plot put out there on a left blog as a serious take on the world. But there you go. Well done you for confounding my expectations.

    • Jackal 9.1

      I think your anger Bill is directed at the wrong person. If you had read the emails, you would find that the unnamed person states:

      it would lessen dependance on Fiji and bring the whole region and its entities together in a way that might help people resist China.

      Clearly this is not in line with what National has been saying publicly, that they want to “open the doors” to China.

      • Bill 9.1.1

        No jackal. My despair is over the ‘update’…the personal opinion that is expressed in the post.

        The emails (yes, I read them and thanks for the link) are a different matter.

    • Deano 9.2

      I don’t see anything about ‘the west’ or ‘towing the line’. I see an obvious statement – China gives money to governments that are bad governments, that mistreat their people and spend their aid money on lavish projects; that source of money makes it harder for countries like New Zealand to give conditional aid, it gets snubbed by those bad rulers.

      • Bill 9.2.1

        What the fuck are you on about Deono?

        The quoted text is quite clearly saying: ‘We’ (our governments) are benign. ‘We’ only sanction ‘bad’ rulers. ‘Our’ benign designs are being stymied by China. ‘Bad’ people turn to ‘them’. ‘They’ (unlike ‘us’) have no scruples. (Subtext…China =bad)

        The fact is that both ‘the west’ and China give various forms of aid to both desirable and undesirable governments and regimes. And both have various conditions (or at least hopes) attached to their aid.

        Meanwhile ‘the west’ (unlike China) has a track record of bringing down governments simply because they didn’t pander to ‘our’ agenda. And please note, that doesn’t mean that the government was necessarily ‘bad’, simply that it didn’t help further the agenda of ‘the west’. (Now ffs, please don’t tell me your so ignorant as to need a list of examples!)

        And ‘the west’ (unlike China) also has a track record of installing very undesirable regimes and giving them immense amounts of aid. (Again, no list required, right?)

        Now, I’m no great fan of either ‘bloc’, but for fucks sake lets get some perspective on things and look at verifiable facts instead of pandering to, or reinforcing bullshit stereotypes of China as supposed ne’er-dae-weels and evil doers.

        • Deano 9.2.1.1

          look, if you think it’s great that China goes around giving aid to governments like Bainimarama, Mugabe, and al-Bashir that would collapse otherwise and give their people a chance at self-determination, then good for you.

          • Populuxe1 9.2.1.1.1

            This +1

          • Bill 9.2.1.1.2

            Are you a dip shit who can’t fucking assimilate what you read? In bold from previous comment I’m no great fan of either ‘bloc’,. Losing tolerance with the likes of you. So, insofar as I already stated my position, stick your if up your arse.

  10. Jackal 10

    Another interesting thing about the leaked emails is that they breach the security of numerous foreign politicians by detailing their whereabouts. John Key was clearly lying when he said it wasn’t a big deal.

  11. Hami Shearlie 11

    I’ve heard that Murray McCully doesn’t actually exist. Apparently he’s a character created by Elton John, so that he can lead a double and quiet life in NZ. And just so people don’t recognise him, he puts on a Ronnie Corbett disguise (darker and more bushy eyebrows etc). This would explain the total lack of political nous and the utter arrogance of “McCully”!! Remember John Key saying he was too nervous to speak to Elton at the Royal Wedding. Yeah, right!!

  12. Pascal's bookie 12

    the weirdest thing is the redaction of, presumably, John Hayes name. No other names were redcated. What’s up with that shit?

  13. Roy 13

    Why on earth has the incompetent McCully not been fired yet?

  14. Fortran 14

    Perahps it is a good way of letting MFAT staff have a glance at their Minsiter’s views.
    McCully probably does not care – its the proverbial leak.

    • mik e 14.1

      I’m surprised whaleoil isn’t complaining about incompetent security considering its official govt business and not just a membership of a political party !

  15. It was in the paper some months ago that there was a concern of the chinese push into the
    south pacific,the concern involved the us,nz and aussie.
    So what does key do ? sell valuable land outright to the chinese govt,fronting as penxign.
    and carries the lies about who they really are,the clue was the chinese govt official
    visiting the overseas investment office.

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