NRT: Spying for the whales

Written By: - Date published: 1:29 pm, April 26th, 2017 - 20 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, International, Spying - Tags: , , , ,

I/S at No Right Turn

Spying for the whales

Japan is a country with whom we have generally positive relations. So naturally, the GCSB has been spying on them to help the US at the International Whaling Commission:

New Zealand spied on Japan to help the United States at an international whaling meeting in 2007, according to a classified National Security Agency document.

The Intercept website published the paper, received from US whistleblower Edward Snowden, as part of an article on Japan’s secretive relationship with the National Security Agency.

The document, marked top secret, outlined a mission where GCSB spies collected information on Japan and passed it on to the NSA ahead of a key vote.


New Zealand spies were collecting “insightful” intelligence that “laid out the lobbying efforts of the Japanese and the response of countries whose votes were so coveted”, the document said.

Japan probably wasn’t the only target – GCSB’s area of operations includes the South American and Pacific island states whose votes Japan was hoping to buy – most of whom are our friends. And while New Zealanders disapprove of whaling and want to support the IWC moratorium, I think many of us would also be deeply uncomfortable with the idea that we would spy on people and tap their phones to do that. Its invasive, underhanded, two-faced – the exact opposite of the values we want our foreign policy to express.

And that’s the core problem: spies are corrosive of our values. Its one thing to spy in wartime, out of military necessity. Its quite another to do it in peace, on your friends, for self-advantage. If an actual person did that sort of thing, most people wouldn’t want to know them. And now that we’re known to do it as a country, many of our friends won’t want to know us either.

20 comments on “NRT: Spying for the whales”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    I’m all like, “go the spies!” A kneejerk reaction.

    Idiot Savant is right though: spying is an inherently military act: the state doing things that would be illegal in private life.

    To complicate matters further, Australia has already sent its navy to monitor Japan’s whaling fleet, in 2015.

    Is preventing whaling a legitimate military goal?

    • dukeofurl 1.1

      Military are used for lots acts that arent open hostilities.
      Spying is the same, its used for everything. Dont think it was ever different.
      US Post office keeps a photo image of every parcel adress panel and every letter

      Why wouldnt they spy on the japanese . and they would certainly be spying on us as much as they can.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

        Military are used for lots acts that arent open hostilities.
        Spying is the same, its used for everything.

        Spying is one of those military acts that aren’t open hostilities. Practically speaking, we’re opening mail, making covert recordings of private conversations, and perhaps other more disruptive measures.

        If any private individual does these things, we call that “crime”. Nations get away with it because spying is a humanitarian act.

        I’m aware that eg: Wayne Mapp doesn’t consider that state spying is also, by definition, a military act. I’m with Idiot Savant and Nicky Hager and Sun Tzu.

        • dukeofurl

          You and they may well have that view. I very much doubt every nation state agrees with you.
          Where did you get ‘by definition’- these are not things discussed by learned judges

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Not every nation state agrees with me? I’ll stick with those that do then.

            If you think state espionage hasn’t been discussed by learned judges I suggest you look up the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, then ask yourself how the “Waihope Three” successfully argued that a satellite dish can cause human suffering.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            PS: “by definition”: I’m not citing a definition, I’m arguing that this is the case.

  2. Gosman 2

    “Its one thing to spy in wartime, out of military necessity. Its quite another to do it in peace, on your friends, for self-advantage.”

    What nonsense. Most embassies have what essentially amounts to intelligence gathering units on both friendly and unfriendly nations. It is in fact a vital part of international relations.

    • That doesn’t make it right, though, Gosman, does it?

      Hundreds of burglars burgle thousands of homes each year. Does that make it right?

      Using your morality, torture; arbitrary imprisonment; extra-judicial killings of state opponants – they are all ok. After all, others do it…

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        It isn’t illegal Frank. There are no international agreements prohibiting spying like those other scenarios you bring up.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Of course it’s illegal, idiot.

          Obtaining passports by deception. Intercepting private communications, covert recordings. Perhaps you can list the countries in which these are legal activities.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2

      …a vital part of international relations.

      Which is why spies often get expelled rather than jailed when they get caught breaking the laws of the host nation.

  3. Incognito 3

    Spying operates in a moral vacuum.

    It’s o.k. to spy as long as you don’t get caught. If you get caught it is o.k. as long as you don’t get proven guilty and/or can get away with it.

    This is the new ‘morality’: it’s o.k. as long as you can get away with it, it’s all “pretty legal”.

    And they do get away with it, don’t they? So, they’ll keep doing it.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      Of course they will.

      “To remain in ignorance…is the height of inhumanity”. Sun Tzu.

      The antithesis of a moral vacuum in fact: the moral lesson from war is that spying saves lives.

      • Incognito 3.1.1

        Firstly, we’re not at war.

        Secondly, the end does not necessarily justify the means.

        Thirdly, if we cannot discuss this openly and publically and exercise influence it does operate in a moral vacuum; there is such a thing as a collective morality that cannot be hijacked by individuals unless we allow it or we don’t know about it. Nicky Hager’s recent book raised this and in fact much (all?) of his work is based on this notion.

        The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Spying in peacetime saves lives, either by preventing open hostilities altogether or keeping them short and on target.

          For example:

          Spies: he doesn’t have WMD.
          Politicians: yes he does, look again.
          Spies: he really doesn’t.
          Politicians: shut up, we’re going to say he does anyway.
          Spies: this won’t end well.
          Politicians: didn’t I tell you to shut up?

          • Incognito

            Spying might or might not save lives or it might even sacrifice lives.

            Nukes might or might not save lives by being a deterrent or forcing the surrender of the enemy.

            You have seen the movie Minority Report, haven’t you?

            The point is that the future is not known to any of us; all that matters is what we do here & now. IMO morality cannot be decided on outcomes or intended outcomes alone and even less so on speculative situations.

            Maybe the deeper question should be what peace time really means if we’re in constant preparation for a possible (…) war.

    • RightWingAndProud 3.2

      You know we’re talking 2007 when Labour was in power?

      “Ignoring something is not the same as being able to handle them. If you don’t listen to people on the net, then you wind up in a echo chamber that is not useful.
      We eject the people who violate our rules.”

  4. The Weatherman 4

    Always read the comments, aye Danyl…. lol

  5. David 5

    Actually there has been people trying to tell the public for years about this and many other types of (much worse) behaviour by the GCSB and the SIS BUT EVERY SINGLE MEDIA PERSONALITY OR JOURNALIST ignored it, and dismissed the people who knew as mad.

    One of those bits of information concerned NZ spying on Japan. It was ignored. It took an international media organization for the NZ Media to be interested.

    That didn’t stop the SIS from hounding the hell out of those trying to ring the bells, though. Jobs lost, hospital stays, group harassment amounting to torture… being told to kill themselves…

    Not that you’ll never hear about that in the media, ever. Meanwhile, people are broken, their loves ruined.

    As for the comment above, I know what it refers to. A comment Danyl deleted on his blog.

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