- Date published:
7:48 am, August 14th, 2014 - 104 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, national, phil goff, Politics, same old national, Spying - Tags: cameron slater, dirty politics, jason ede, nicky hager, oia, polity, sis, whaleoil
Reposted from Polity.
There are bits of Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics that are, for political anoraks, at least, “who cares” material.
But there are bits that are not.
For me, the most shocking revelation in the book is about the use of clandestine SIS files as a weapon of partisan politics. To recap, John Key or his office discovered classified SIS files that were embarrassing to Phil Goff, got them declassified, then immediately told a right-wing blogger to seek those same newly-declassified files under the OIA, all as a means of smearing a political opponent.
That is awful.
That is not what spy agencies are for.
The use of spy agencies in partisan politics is absolutely, irredeemably disgusting.
That episode has much more to do with John Key and Jason Ede than it does Cameron Slater. Misuse of SIS documents was arranged by John Key’s personal office, and carried out by one of John Keys most senior staffers, Jason Ede. Cameron Slater is simply their tool.
So what should happen now?
Well, that episode alone needs to be investigated by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.
Another incident, where Ministers Amy Adams and Judith Collins appear to deliberately circumvent the OIA to benefit Slater should be investigated by the Ombudsman.
This book does not describe a series of incidents. It describes a system. And responsibility for that system lies with the person at the head of it. The person who employed Jason Ede, who stood by as his Ministers and officials breached their ethical and legal obligations to New Zealanders, and who also personally fed vile material into National’s attack blog machine. John Key.
Yes, there is some ideological name-calling in this book. And yes there is some stuff detailed rather breathlessly in here than is common practice around the democratic world.
But there is much more than that.
We cannot let anything obscure the disturbing facts that emerge about potential misuse of taxpayer funds, and the apparatus of New Zealand state security, along with unethical if not illegal actions by multiple government Ministers.
National’s glib response so far has been disrespectful to New Zealanders and to our democracy. Given the behaviour documented in Hager’s book, that it sadly no surprise. We deserve a much more serious response than this. And, more broadly, we deserve a much better politics than this.