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NRT: Waihopaiology

Written By: - Date published: 5:17 pm, January 14th, 2015 - 45 comments
Categories: Spying - Tags: , , ,

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn

We all got a bit of a shock yesterday when the government announced that GCSB Director Ian Fletcher was stepping down for “family reasons”. Becuse we all know that “family reasons” is code for “we don’t want to tell you what the real reason is”, there’s naturally been speculation about the real reason for his departure. Yesterday, Labour led this by suggesting that Fletcher didn’t like something proposed for the upcoming review. Today this has been expanded into a supposed objection to a proposal to merge the GCSB and SIS.

The problem? Fletcher has never come across as particularly principled or committed to privacy and human rights (lets face it: if he was, he would never have taken the job). And as an outsider, he’s unlikely to be so committed to the future of the organisation he heads that he’d fall on his sword rather than be part of a merger. And while pride – not wanting to work for SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge, who would presumably head a merged agency – is potentially a reason, six months before the review has even taken place is a little early to be resigning for that.

Which brings us back to the other possible reason: another GCSB stuffup. Which of course someone has to fall on their sword for, but which must be kept secret for “security reasons” (aka “if the victims knew, they’d sue us and complain to the police”).

As for the merits of a speculated merger between SIS and GCSB, it’s a nightmare. The two agencies have completely different purposes. The SIS’s focus has always been domestic, hunting for reds under the bed (and because there aren’t any, focusing on greens, browns, basically anyone who isn’t “properly” blue instead). The GCSB’s focus is international, to Spy On All The Things (which through their “alliance” with the NSA and the nature of the modern internet, means collecting all our internet and phone traffic). The two are kept separate to ensure they stay on task, and to ensure that there’s a strong bureaucratic barrier between the SIS and the GCSB’s backdoor access to all our communications. Merging the two would destroy that barrier, and no matter how many internal “Chinese walls” they say they have, would inevitably result in leakage. In short, you’d have a highly politicised domestic spy agency looking for “enemies” to spy on (because it doesn’t have any real ones) with access to all our communications. The Stasi, in other words. It would be a disaster for our privacy and for our democracy. And any government which does it needs to be promptly de-elected, because they are a danger to us all.

45 comments on “NRT: Waihopaiology ”

  1. karol 1

    Fletcher’s sudden resignation does invite speculation.

    I/S does have a point about the timing leaving open the possibility of an about-to-be-disclosed GCSB stuff up.

    It’s also possible it’s something else, totally unexpected: eg something surfacing that relates to Fletcher’s past jobs – there were criticisms of his Queensland work, and he was in the loop with respect to the fictionalisation of the reasons for invading Iraq.

    • Tracey 1.1

      Given how few have had to resign for stuff ups under key’s rule, I would be surprised if Fletcher “had” to resign for a stuff up… apart from anything else wouldn’t key be keen to show what a tough and principled PM he is by making someone accountable?

  2. Truth Will Out 2

    Key compromised him in a very shoddy way, tainting him with the whole illegal spying thing. It was a form of betrayal. He will forever be associated with it now whether he was responsible or not. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. That’s the price he pays for being a mate of Key’s.

  3. Anne 3

    I think this hypothesis of Idiot Savant’s is right on the money.

    First, there’s a review into the GCSB which is due to be released within the next couple of months. I’m betting Fletcher knows what’s in it and he also knows that he will be the whipping boy when the shit hits the fan. This may not be entirely fair because I suspect some of the negative elements it may contain will have occurred prior to him taking over as the GCSB head.

    Second, this rumoured suspicion of a merger between the SIS and the GCSB stinks of arrogance, obsession with power by any means and the usual Nat. strait-jacketed thinking. It is supremely ironic coming from a government that spent eight years labelling the Clark regime as a big, bullying nanny state government determined to tread on all our rights and freedoms – Helengrad they said – and the sheeples believed it.

    Third, it is clear from Andrew Little’s meeting with Fletcher just before Xmas that he was not intending to resign from his position as the GCSB Director. In fact, he was enthusiastic and told Little something of his future plans for the GCSB. So, something has happened in the last couple of weeks. I’m picking he was told about the proposed “merger” and he was left with the impression he was going to be shafted in the process so he decided to go first.

    • mickysavage 3.1

      Agreed. I bet:

      1. There is a merger planned.
      2. The writing is on the wall for Fletcher. Mergers often have signposted which organisation is going to be the dominant one and the employees of the other organisation are expendable …
      3. Finlayson sees things different to Key. He will not protect Fletcher and Fletcher knows this.
      4. There may or may not be another operational snafu ready to be made public.
      5. Key may be thinking of ways to move on. Why hang around when you have $50 million in the bank and a golfing handicap to maintain.
      6. There will be a rebellion amongst elements of the public service at the thought of concentrating so much power. The merger of one entity designed to spy on us and another entity designed to collate intelligence but not spy on us will mean that local intelligence will be shared indiscriminately.

      The merger makes perfect sense. If the intent is to maximise the power of the state and to strip away the vestige of any privacy rights we may have.

      • politikiwi 3.1.1

        “If the intent is to maximise the power of the state and to strip away the vestige of any privacy rights we may have.”

        Based on the government’s actions to-date, it’s difficult to conclude that it’s anything else.

      • Sacha 3.1.2

        “when you have $50 million in the bank” – plus dividends and interest since then.

      • JanM 3.1.3

        “Why hang around when you have $50 million in the bank and a golfing handicap to maintain ”
        That has not changed since he came into our sights, so we need to reflect on what it is that drives him – it’s quite chilling, really

      • gsays 3.1.4

        hi mickey, when this regime is out of power, any chance of an unmerger coming from labour?

      • tc 3.1.5

        Yes all of that and the unresolved issues about how JK put him up for the job and ran his golf cart over due process, oh those lofty higher standards.

        Unresolved because the MSM is part of the scam by not chasing down Johnnys lies over his good mate fletch. Nothing new about that though.

      • Tracey 3.1.6

        Surely anything Fletcher did wrong would be under Key’s leadership, not Finlayson’s?

      • Anne 3.1.7

        There will be a rebellion amongst elements of the public service at the thought of concentrating so much power. The merger of one entity designed to spy on us and another entity designed to collate intelligence but not spy on us will mean that local intelligence will be shared indiscriminately.

        That is precisely the strait jacketed thinking I was referring to. And who is going to lead this monolithic version of East Germany’s Stasi eh? I suspect Kitteridge will be down graded to “Deputy CEO in charge of the Domestic Division. Fletcher isn’t going to be downgraded to anything so he’s getting out? So who has the Govt. got in mind for the top job?

        Perhaps we could conduct a sweepstake and the one who gets closest wins a chocolate fish.

    • Sacha 3.2

      “Helengrad they said – and the sheeples believed it” – because the left (and especially Labour) failed abysmally to craft a credible counter-narrative. Don’t go blaming voters.

      • JanM 3.2.1

        Do you mean their advertising wasn’t as slick and they didn’t tell as many lies?

      • mickysavage 3.2.2

        Hate to disagree with you but …

        Media reach is really important. On the right we had:

        Farrar/Slater/Henry/Hoskings/the Herald/Fairfax/Talk back radio/Gower/Corporate media …

        On the left we had …

        Bomber/the Standard/ …

        I am not sure what benefit there was in a credible counter narrative.

        • Sacha 3.2.2.1

          Media relay packaged comms. Labour and the broader left have generally been crap at that crafting for a long while now (though some aspects like Mana’s 2014 website and the Greens’ 2011 campaign were well done). If you can’t acknowledge that, the people of this nation owe you nothing – and certainly not their vote.

          • emergency mike 3.2.2.1.1

            While I think it’s fair to be critical of Labour’s media strategy, and they made too many blunders, the deck is rather stacked against them when the msm is full of bias. The bigger truth is that the blue machine has a lot of naturally talented manipulators and bullshit artists that the left just can’t match. Myself I think that says more about them than us.

            As Nicky Hager said in one his talks that I saw, a government that relies on dirty politics is a government with something to hide.

          • Tom Jackson 3.2.2.1.2

            I watched it. From the day he was elected leader, the media, almost to a man (and woman) went after Cunliffe in the most ridiculous way day after day without any let up. Cunliffe could have cured cancer and the media would still have dogsled on him. Anyone who denies this is just being dishonest.

            And the voters deserve plenty of stick. I don’t think most of them are sheeple. I suspect an awful lot of them are small-minded, morally deficient beings, and modern politics goes a long way to backing up that hypothesis.

          • Tracey 3.2.2.1.3

            Can you explain how you make the media publish something if they don’t want to, no matter how well drafted or presented it is?

            • Sacha 3.2.2.1.3.1

              You work hard to set the overall narrative and framing, regardless of individual stories, and you work the background relationships with editors and journos and opinion-shapers. That takes more skill and coherence than has been in evidence for about the last 7 years.

              • framu

                while i agree with you there i doubt it would have mattered – the MSM made their pick each time and were deaf to all else.

                The trick now is to find a way to put the MSM on notice, in public, without corkery-ing it

  4. Weepus beard 4

    What does Smile und Wave have to say about this? Any journalist brave enough to ask?

    • wyndham 4.1

      Smile und Wave in his usual slippery way will not be seen or heard to any marked degree ! He has already lumbered Findlayson with being the government “face’ of the GCSB. Findlayson will handle any crap that is likely to ensue from the enquiry whilst Key will continue as the friendly face of National Inc.

      • Weepus beard 4.1.1

        True, but I’d still like journalists to ask the questions:

        Why did your mate quit?

        Were you as surprised as everyone else, or did he tell you first?

        Will you shoulder tap another mate to fill the vacancy?

        • Tracey 4.1.1.1

          the timing makes me think Key knew and it was agreed to announce with his blessing while on holiday.

          same as Ede resigned the day before the election but Key didnt announce it til the Monday after.

          same as the BIG story of the day was those awful police issuing fines for people speeding over 100km, to be followed by Fletcher’s resignation. Nothing by accident folks

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.2

      Hes on holiday. And so are most of the journalists.

  5. Skinny 5

    Fletcher would have had the wind from the get go after a series of sketchy abusive of the agencies powers. He would be use to structure and certainly not Key’s loose flippant style of management. If that wasn’t bad enough having to deal with a loose cannon megalomaniac Finlayson and the plans he has instore says exit stage left.

  6. Jim 6

    The whole saga of Fletcher’s appointment has been a embarrassment to John Key, amplified by the Prime Ministers office having been proven to be involved in the release of SIS false information to whale oil for political purposes. Key then distances himself by making Finlayson the Minister responsible for the spying agencies. Some months later Fletcher who is still a lingering embarrassment to Key resigns. A few months later a report comes out which sanitises the situation further. Hell by the end of the year the GCSB and the SIS will probably not exist in there current form and most people won’t even remember about John Key appointing a childhood friend to head the GCSB, and having been caught politicising the SIS. Infact most New Zealanders will be on planet Key quite happy with the situation.

    • Sacha 6.1

      “Hell by the end of the year the GCSB and the SIS will probably not exist in there current form”

      Renaming is a strong possibility. It worked for the DOL mines inspectorate and whatever that government department who oversaw leaky buildings was called.

      • Paul Campbell 6.1.1

        So renamed to “Stasi” it is then – makes sense – even if they don’t use that name we can

      • Tracey 6.1.2

        Department of Building and Housing oversaw the Weathertight Services Group which oversaw the Weathertight Homes resolution Services.

        • Sacha 6.1.2.1

          I mean the department which oversaw the weakening of building standards that *caused* leaky buildings – which Clark’s government slyly disestablished so there was nothing left to sue except Councils.

          • Tracey 6.1.2.1.1

            building industry authority? They dissolved and got replaced with no accountability as you point out… many went on to help write the 2004 building act…

  7. Colonial Rawshark 7

    Bill Binney, one of the highest ranking whistleblowers ever to come out of the NSA, and who worked on projects against the old Soviet Bloc, says that the surveillance capabilities that the NSA (and by extension the FVEY nations) employ are several orders of magnitude beyond anything the Stasi ever used on the East German population.

    The ability to follow hundreds of millions of people around 24/7 via their GPS enabled smartphone, for instance.

    • Sure, but people forget that the majority of East Germans didn’t really care all that much about the Stasi, because it didn’t affect them.

      • Tracey 7.1.1

        I know three east Germans who cared enough that their families helped them escape.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 7.1.2

        It was more like if you didnt care , it was because you were one of the stasi informers.

        “1989, the Stasi employed 91,015 persons full-time,”

        It was said 2.5% of the population were stasi informers.

        “Schools, universities, and hospitals were extensively infiltrated”

        “counting part-time informers, the Stasi had one informer per 6.5 people”

        “Didnt care” ? They were the most oppresive secret police in history!

      • RJL 7.1.3

        Which is why the majority of East Germans are still quite happy living safely behind the Berlin Wall.

    • Tracey 7.2

      and the STASI kept great hard copy records, cos you had to prove to superiors you achieved what they wanted. Made great research fodder when the wall came down… Now you have to hack.

  8. Treetop 8

    Some sort of ultimatium has forced Fletcher out or he is about to be exposed for landing Key in it.

    Key tends to tidy things up by saying the person is no longer employed by his office, this can be extended to Key being the minister in charge.

    Will Fletcher take a pay cut when he moves on?

  9. Treetop 9

    Possibly the family problem is between Rennie, Fletcher and Key. Fletcher is the one being sacrificed.

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