So according to John Key New Zealand citizens have taken part in Al Qaeda training camps and this justifies increased powers for the GCSB. It is interesting that this claim was made on the day that Parliament debated the second reading of the GCSB Bill. It is also interesting that the security system appeared to be working perfectly well in that these misguided individuals had been identified and warrants for their observation issued. If anything this information is justification for retention of the legal status quo.
Last night Peter Dunne went onto Campbell live. He said a couple of things which were of themselves rather stunning.
Firstly he stated that he was only asked for swipecard and landline records by investigation head David Henry.
He says he was appoached by Henry and asked to provide or give approval to provide access to his landline and deskphone call data and his swipecard access. His impression was that Henry already had access to records of who he had email correspondence with and who he had called on his cellphone.
On May 23 Henry was able to say to Dunne how many emails he had sent to Ms Vance. On May 31 Henry said that he wanted access to Dunne’s phone records “because he wanted to compare those with Ms Vance’s records”. Dunne does not know how Henry obtained this data. He thinks that Parliamentary Services provided this data.
A tin foil hat wearing a 911 conspirator would say that the GCSB collected the data. It does collect, amongst other things, metadata on emails and cellphone calls. But the more likely explanation is that Parliamentary Services provided the information.
Dunne knows that Henry had access to Vance’s phone records. The conversation of May 31 was proof of this because it was sought “for the purposes of comparison”. He knew Henry had access to her swipe card records because Henry wanted to test a theory about a particular day.
Dunne was surprised at the intensity of the enquiry and he is right. All that occurred as a consequence was that a report was released early. It did result in Key having to release the report from China a week early but this should not be a hanging offence.
Campbell then posed Dunne a wonderfully weighted question. Why is Dunne supporting increased GCSB power to collect metadata when the abuse of his and Vance’s metadata has resulted in such a terrible consequence?
Dunne then lost all of my sympathy by claiming that the negotiated changes to the bill will address all concerns. Being able to see how much the GCSB spends on stationery, having a review in a couple of years time, and having included toothless principles that do not have any legal effect does not cut it. Dunne is satisfied that the Minister will now have to sign a warrant. I hate to break it to you Peter but the responsible Minister is the person who ordered the collection of your metadata without warrant.
As Geoffrey Palmer pointed out this morning constitutional norms have been trashed by events relating to the Kitteridge Report. The freedom of the press has been threatened, the deliberate division between Parliamentary Services and Ministerial Services has been shattered and the Prime Minister has by personal edict overruled various limitations on his power.
The Privileges Committee will consider some of these issues. John Key has stated that he will not appear before the Committee even if asked. It appears that he thinks that he is above Parliament. Such arrogance has not been seen since the time of King John whose behaviour prompted the passing of the Magna Carta.
Key needs to learn about our constitution. The constitutional system that governs us states that even the Prime Minister is subject to the will of Parliament.