As Lynn points out in his post today ‘National’s Herald shows its true colours’, the very visible flaunting of connections between National MPS, the ACT Party, an NZ Herald gossip columnist and Cameron Slater is puzzling. This all resulted from the press statements by John Key. Here Key was mainly stressing that he did not get information about Winston Peters’ visits to the Dotcom mansion form the GCSB, SIS or any public agency.
Pablo, who has a background in security research and analysis [* and more- see edit at bottom of post], posted on Kiwipolitico that he is very skeptical about Slater being the source of information about the Peters’ visits. Pablo argues that it would be perfectly logical, possible and legal for the police, with or without the legal help of the SIS or GCSB, to be monitoring Kim Dotcom and those he associates with. They could be doing this because they consider Dotcom to be a flight risk, or (that old police dodge) associating with drug users. Pablo concludes:
That is why Mr Key’s version of how he came to know about Mr. Peters’ treks to the Coatesville property is odd. He claims that he got his information about Dotcom’s political visitors from Cameron Slater working with or independently from a Herald gossip columnist. That is troubling.
The Right Honorable John Key is the Minister of Intelligence and Security, so presumably he is aware of the status of security operations and the Dotcom case in particular given its history. But he claims that he received domestic espionage information about Dotcoms’s visitors from a right-wing, admittedly partisan “attack” blogger, rather than from the security agencies for which he is responsible and who have a legal right to monitor Mr. Dotcom. That is a sign of incompetence or willful ignorance on his part.
All this adds up to John Key being very nervous about accusations he has been using state surveillance for political purposes, and keen to divert attention from it.
A bit of a refresher:
Kim Dotcom was spied on illegally by the GCSB in the lead up to his arrest at the Dotcom mansion.
More recently, the USA’s, NSA (National Security Agency) has been implicated in that spying, as stated on Stuff, November 2013). Evidence indicates some other unnamed agency supplied intelligence to the GCSB:
Police had asked GCSB for help in December 2011 as they gathered evidence for a joint police-FBI raid on Dotcom’s rural Auckland home.
However, the surveillance was illegal as the German was a New Zealand resident which protected him from the GCSB’s activities, that were meant to exclude New Zealand citizens or residents.
The police summary makes a passing reference to “data supplied to the GCSB” in the leadup to the raid, Operation Debut. The US is attempting to extradite Dotcom on internet piracy charges.
The file says: “Because of the origin of the data supplied to GCSB it could not be established to an evidential standard whether the data was gathered at rest or in transit.”
Later in the document it again refers to data obtained by the GCSB: “the investigation could not establish whether it was gathered at rest or in transit when it was acquired. GCSB could not provide the investigation with this information as they did not have it”.
And Russel Norman was quick to point the finger at the NSA. Interesting given that there have been attempts to smear Norman’s perfectly reasonable meetings with Kim Dotcom.
A lot of the sources of information about the actual surveillance of Kim Dotcom are obscured.
Some of the GCSB records have been deleted, apparently as part of normal procedures with “old” information.
Three GCSB staff members have refused to cooperate and supply evidence for the police investigation into the GCSB’s illegal spying on Kim Dotcom.
Police this week released a summary of their investigation of Green Co-leader Russel Norman’s complaint about the illegal spying which was revealed Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Paul Neazor a year ago.
Announcing their findings three months ago, the police said the GCSB’s spying was illegal but as GCSB staff did not act with criminal intent, no one would be held accountable.
However the summary noted that three current GCSB staff refused to be interviewed by police.
On 28 August 2013, Ian Fletcher refused to say yes or no to an Official Information Request. The request was as follows:
Does the GCSB receive any funding from the NSA? If so, I’d like to know how much per year for the last five years, and what it was expected to be spent on.
Fletcher claimed his non-answer was for security reasons. However, this request followed information in the Edward Snowden leaks that showed the UK’s 5 Eyes’ spy agency, the GCHQ, had received funding from the NSA.
The Greens’ Stephan Browning and Russel Norman have also pointed out the legal ways the NSA is able to access NZ communications, as a result of recent NZ legislation and a US ruling.
There will most certainly be more to come on this issue as the Dotcom case proceeds. The stakes are high. John Key has said that it would be the end of his government and him as prime minister, if he was connected with the use of state surveillance on Winston Peters. He has also said that he would resign if it was discovered that the GCSB was “conducting mass surveillance on New Zealanders.”.
Edited on 20.02.2014:
* Along with his background in security research and analysis, Pablo has, in his own words, “an operational background in such (particularly intelligence and unconventional warfare) matters as well as my former academic interests in the same.”
Apologies to Pablo for the omission, and misleading description.