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Sensitive about security

Written By: - Date published: 6:01 am, August 12th, 2008 - 20 comments
Categories: assets, john key, national, privatisation, slippery - Tags:

National activist/advisor Matthew Hooton on Nine to Noon: ‘the National Party leadership group is very sensitive about security. They look at the last election campaign that was lost on basically matters of security: the leak of the ‘gone by lunchtime’ notes and the Brethren link.’

No. National lost because it had a secret agenda; not because leaks meant that secret agenda was exposed. If there was no secret agenda, National would not need to be so sensitive about security. If it didn’t have skeletons in the closet, National wouldn’t have to worry about keeping the door bolted.

Look at the Greens: they’re so open because they have nothing to hide. ACT: the same. Labour and Green MPs, including Ministers, have attended Drinking Liberally and talked quite openly to a room full of a hundred people, most of whom they have never met, about their personal politics and their desires for the future. No secret agenda is revealed by these frank remarks because what they say is perfectly consistent with the face they present to the public.

It is only National that gets paranoid about security and ‘message control’, because only National has objectives it wishes to hide from the public.

20 comments on “Sensitive about security ”

  1. Lew 1

    I agree with your point that National’s leaks have been embarrassing because they aren’t congruent with the party’s public image, and in that sense their woes are of their own architecture. Moreover a party shouldn’t rely on the goodwill of others (particularly its opponents) to retain its security. However I think the line of argument you’ve taken here strays dangerously close to `if you’ve nothing to hide you’ve nothing to fear’, the logic which condones ubiquitous surveillance in the name of security.


  2. John 2

    Exactly. If National were to say in private what they say in public they would have nothing to worry about. They don’t. So, they do. Their recent problems are no one’s fault but their own. They should stop the weasel words on privatisation and either rule out asset sales full stop or tells us what assets they want to sell in a second term.

    We aren’t as stupid as they think.

  3. BeShakey 3

    “We aren’t as stupid as they think.”

    The polls suggest we are probably more stupid than they could have hoped for.

  4. Stupidity is a kiwi trait, just look at the imbeciles in parliament for the evidence, or the thicko keystone cops.
    No wonder we are the laughing stock of the western world!

  5. Lew 5

    Never a more apt time to observe that it takes one to know one.


  6. L; Labour’s not so secret agenda is working well, as the family unit can be labeled as dysfunctional in the majority of cases.For example, 6 month old babies at day care centers.Well done Helen and co…..
    Long live the exodus across the ditch.

  7. vto 7

    Following this logic, I look forward to the publication of all communications between Clark and Cullen and Heather and Williams and etc.

    The entire country would be keen too I imagine so how about it?

    Should have nothing to fear

  8. How can one judge the secret agenda from Labour when they have behind the scene lurkers like Heather Simpson, who direct things from behind closed doors, safely tucked away from public scrutiny and exposure?

    The cheek of Labour bleating on about secret agendas when they possess such a poison pen in their insidious arsenal.

  9. Felix 9

    You guys are just getting weird now.

    vto, I know you don’t think the nats are being duplicitous, you’ve been saying so for a week.

    How on earth you reach the point where you think what you’ve written above is analogous to last weekends events simply boggles the mind.

  10. vto 10

    In fact Lew makes the brilliant point in his first post. Communication intended to be kept between the parties should be kept that way. It makes for the smooth operation of relationships right across the globe since day dot. Be it husband-wife, commercial, local gossip, political, etc.

    The problem that arises when that convention is breacvhed is perfectly illustrated by this saga, namely that people get the wrong idea about what was in fact communicated.

    This whole saga is like reading someone else’s mail. You never get the full picture.

    Hence my contention that there has been absolutely no proof of some ‘secwet agenda’ a-la The Famous Five. Wooooo..

    And Lew is right in that just like reading someone else’s private mail it usually results in the wrong idea and embarrassment.

  11. vto 11

    Felix, I only been saying so since yesterday. And I reach that point above from following Pierson’s own main post logic above which runs along the lines Lew describes.

  12. “Message control”! Do we have a laugh emoticon here?

  13. forgetaboutthelastone 13

    “I look forward to the publication of all communications between Clark and Cullen and Heather and Williams and etc.”

    I would fully support this if National did the same thing.

    There is no absolute proof of a secret agenda but there is plenty of convincing evidence – more evidence that there is a secret agenda than there is not.

    “reading someone else’s private mail it usually results in the wrong idea and embarrassment.”

    That’s when you get the chance to clear things up by providing sound evidence that people have got the wrong idea. vto – please tell me where National have provided the evidence that they do not have a secret agenda.

  14. Lew 14

    vto, I don’t really agree that intent is enough to keep communications secret. Intent has to be backed by reasonable measures to ensure security, and if those measures fail then there are two issues: 1. the implications of the breach for the securer; and 2. the legal implications of the breach for the exploiter. Leaving aside the ethical question, you can view this as a utility calculation: the legal problems for the exploiter in this case might well be worth the embarrassment for National derived from the release of these tapes.

    In some contexts (email, for instance) it’s quite easy to implement strong mathematical security measures such as GPG to prevent the theft of information by `hackers’ and so on, but in other contexts security is much more difficult. Implementation is often constrained by logistical factors and issues of perception (how would it look for the Nats to have taken passport or driver license details at the door for all delegates to their convention – pretty paranoid?). In addition, a great deal of security is in theatre – the performance of security aimed at deterring attempted breaches rather than preventing them by technical or tactical means. This theatre aspect is most important, because to the lay person and perhaps even in law (IANAL) it provides a test as to whether the securer really wanted the information kept secret.

    Ultimately, preventing breaches of this nature requires a change to the utility calculation for would-be exploiters. This is a tricky thing to do, however, due to the law of unintended consequences. Tougher penalties for leakers and so on could have a chilling effect, and will probably spill over into draconian penalties for those who, for instance, circumvent DRM measures or other trivia. Tough call.


  15. “Do we have a laugh emoticon here?”

    Just look into the cracked mirror red tiger tea.

  16. Lew. I get your point about the ‘nothing to fear if you’ve nothing to hide’ argument and my post an argument for carte blanch but there is a line where it’s reasonable to delve into information polticians would rather keep secret… public figures talking about their acutal plans or activities, as opposed to discussing policy formation, where privacy is legitimate and necessary. I think in the cases in which information has leaked from National, they have been talking about actual plans that they’ve been trying to keep secret.

  17. Felix 17

    Sorry vto, I must have mistaken you.

    I still don’t really follow your logic about releasing records of conversations. It’s a huge leap to make IMO.

    If anyone really thinks Helen Clark or Michael Cullen are going around saying things which contradict their stated policies then I’d love to hear about it.

  18. Lew 18

    SP: Yes. I think it’s the role of society as a whole to come to a consensus as to the public interest (although ultimately this finding will probably be made by a judge). The game here is being framed as an ethical one, but in actuality it’s an electoral game where both sides are using ethics as their primary symbolic weapon. In the same way the electorate determines whether National’s small target policy is good or bad by signalling its voting intentions, the electorate will judge whether this campaign reflected more badly on the (suspected) exploiter or the exploited.

    This is a roundabout way of saying that I think it’s legitimate both for the recordings to have been made and distributed, and for National to object most stridently against it and take whatever measures at their disposal against those responsible, and for those responsible to be subject to legal or public sanctions if that’s appropriate.

    What I’m driving toward in my post about utility above is that society, if it agrees that breaches such as this are deleterious or not in the public interest, should implement sanctions to make the cost of such exploits higher (though this is confused by the matter of unintended consequences).


  19. Draco TB 19

    Another way of looking at this is accepting that the entire conference was going to be repeated and that this was expected and hoped for. The people who went were going to repeat what they heard to their friends that didn’t go. This would be inevitable unless the conference had some sort of draconian non-disclosure agreement which would massively cut down it’s ability to get Nationals message out to its supporters. What happened here is that someone who wasn’t a National supporter went along and then repeated the message to the general public and not just National supporters.

    In view of this I really don’t think any sanctions against the person doing the recording are going to work as it could be argued that the information was expected to be repeated. National and other parties aren’t going to put NDAs onto the conference tickets because that will decrease the number of people who will hear the parties position on issues possibly decreasing the votes that they receive. The only things that the parties have to counter such recording is saying the same thing in private as they say publicly. Nationals only hurting and making a big song and dance about it because they got caught doing the exact opposite.

    If any parties did put in draconian NDAs on their conferences then it immediately becomes a big signpost saying Secret Agenda Here

  20. rich 20

    Because they’re saying the guy shouldn’t have recorded English and Smith covertly. Does that mean that if he’d had no tape and relied on memory, they’d have lied and denied it?

    Or that party conferences are places where the leaders want to say what they really mean, which is different to the story for the public?

    If somebody had got their ad schedules or something, I could see that would be unfair, but publicising their real (as opposed to published) attitudes?

    The media treats politics as a game to be played by rules, which it isn’t. If it’s a choice between a bit of cheating and suffering under national, I’d go with the cheating.

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