Shooting the moon

Written By: - Date published: 6:47 am, October 12th, 2012 - 73 comments
Categories: david shearer, john key, Spying - Tags:

If I were in Labour, I would be looking at the polls and thinking that a small target strategy is best: preserve your credibility at all costs, keep your head down, pick up the votes as National self-destructs – it worked for Key in 2008. Instead, Shearer seems to be trying to shoot the moon with a knock out blow to Key (interesting parallel to Norman’s export policy there).

Shearer has taken a risk that his own credibility will be tarnished if no proof emerges that Key was aware of the GCSB’s involvement in Dotcom spying from at least as early as February 29th. I hope they considered their options carefully and didn’t just jump on a rumour.

But I think this will play out OK for Shearer either way because

a) he hasn’t claimed that the tape definitely exists, only that sources in the GCSB claim it does

b) it can never be proven not to exist (contrast Goff on the SIS in both instances) and most importantly

c) Key didn’t really try to deny it happened despite the fact that if it is true that he talked Dotcom with the GCSB it makes a lie of his implausible claim to have only become aware of the spying on September 14. Key’s weak ‘prove it’ and ‘so what’ sound like tacit admissions, and that will be enough to keep him on the backfoot and prevent him turning the tables on Shearer even if the tape never emerges.

 

PS. It’s a little worrying that the spies seem to be leaking to the opposition. It’s also worrying that Slater seems to have his own leak within the security apparatus – presumably in the PM’s office.

73 comments on “Shooting the moon”

  1. Kotahi Tāne Huna 1

    …worrying that the spies seem to be leaking to the opposition.

    If true, it points to serious discontent among the spooks. I wonder what could have happened. I know! Perhaps their boss is lying to Parliament, and trying to get them to take a fall for him.

    • Pascal's bookie 1.1

      Designated fall guy doesn’t feel his/her career should be sacrificed for the sake of his superior’s?

      • bbfloyd 1.1.1

        I would have thought it obvious that the people key is so busy shitting on would fight back the best way they know how…..I’ve been watching with incredulity while johnny has been busily cutting the ground out from under himself this way…..

        The only thought that comes through is “just how stupid is sparkles?”…..

        As an afterthought, I see little? Dunking Garnish is still attempting to make excuses for him….You gotta wonder just how much he has been offered/threatened with for him to still be clinging on to that bandwagon….

  2. Ad 2

    As the polls have improved and at least his radio responses have got less sloppy, I have been gradually warming to Shearer.

    But James I think this is worse than you suggest.

    Firstly if he becomes Prime Minister he will never be trusted by the security apparatus of New Zealand ever again. He has chosen to drive a wedge between the position of Prime Minister and the GCSB. Neither the SIS nor the GCSB will never forget that. He will have to figure out how to work against them.

    And if he continues on this path, what will being in a government be like when those entities work secretly and deeply against him. Don’t think it likely? Just remember Norman Kirk.

    Secondly there is no one around him holding him back from doing spectacularly dumb things. Not staff, not MPs. The whole beltway will have seen that. That lack of collective wisdom will play into a subtext with senior bureaucrats that a Labour-Green coalition will be naive, weak, and easily resisted by stronger-willed public servants.

    Thirdly, even if Shearer knows someone who has such a recording, he shouldn’t use it. It’s kind of surprising for a guy who has been so close to security in international crisis-points that he is prepared to display his sources, when they are clearly so close to him.

    If I were the Prime Minister right now, I would say that Mr Shearer shows categorically that he cannot be trusted with the most critical part of the nation’s security, and ask publicly for his resignation.

    Or produce the evidence.

    • Pascal's bookie 2.1

      Jesus wept.

      the backgropund to this, remember, is that there is a criminal investigation under way into illegal spying on a NZ resident by an agency the PM has direct oversight of.

      It would be very convenient for both the PM and the bigwigs in that agency if people lost sight of that.

      And Look! Someone, from either the govt or the GCSB leaked what looks like the identities fo GCSB agents to Cameron Slater! OMG David Shearer must be a security risk!!! And there are dirty labour moles who ruinded everyuthing for everyone hiding in the GCSB!!!!

      • Tom Gould 2.1.1

        And it gets worse. On TV last night, Key was giggling like a school girl over some Canadian spook giving Kiwi secrets to the Ruskies, while we are cutting an FTA with them? No issues there. Key is looking more foolish and out-of-touch every day.

      • tracey 2.1.2

        didnt something similar happen to a former us ambassador whose wife was outted as cia

    • Kotahi Tāne Huna 2.2

      Ad, I have a smidgen of sympathy for your position, but damn, lady, you doth protesteth too much.

      This isn’t about David Shearer, no matter how must twisting and turning you do.

      • bbfloyd 2.2.1

        And let us not forget who it is that supplied Shearer with the information about the recording…. So the very people helping to bring down the worst prime mincer in nz history won’t trust shearer after he helped save their reputations, and jobs?

    • Rich 2.3

      There is a simple solution to that. Put a bill through under urgency in the first week to abolish NZSIS/GCSB and move their functions into the police, defence force, MFAT and SSC/Internal Affairs (for the IT security stuff). (Actually, if parliament are slow passing the bill, zeroing their vote would get rid of them equally effectively).

      As a peaceful, democratic nation, we don’t need spies. We had none before WW2, and no formalised non-military intelligence organizations before the 1950’s.

      • bbfloyd 2.3.1

        “As a peaceful, democratic nation, we don’t need spies”…. bang on rich…You got it in one…

      • ad 2.3.2

        Totally with you there.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.3.3

        Put a bill through under urgency in the first week to abolish NZSIS/GCSB and move their functions into the police, defence force, MFAT and SSC/Internal Affairs (for the IT security stuff).

        Ah, no, there’s reasons why all those agencies aren’t all one agency. Just off the top of my head:
        1.) Specialisation really does produce better results
        2.) Helps prevent regulatory capture
        3.) Allows for more precise laws and regulations controlling said agencies to be written.

        As a peaceful, democratic nation, we don’t need spies.

        Wrong, so very, very, wrong. We may be peaceful – doesn’t mean everyone else is.

      • Murray Olsen 2.3.4

        I agree Rich. Get rid of the lot of them. The spies we have seem to work for the CIA/FBI/MI6 anyway, and a lot have pommy accents. I don’t see why we should pay them when they work against us, and often do their best to destabilise any vaguely progressive or independent government. Let their real masters pay.

  3. karol 3

    There is no “tape”.  If a recording exists it will be digital, and there will be copies.  And it will be a “video”. 
     
    And it seems that if it does exist, it’s not on GCSB computers:
     

    He said the Government Communications Security Bureau had made “exhaustive inquiries of its records and its IT systems and can find no audio-visual recording of the Prime Minister’s visit” on the day outlined by Mr Shearer.
    “An investigation has commenced within GCSB as to whether there has been any unauthorised disclosure of information, and if so, its source.”

    • David H 3.1

      Seems odd that there would be no Audio/Visual record of the PMs visit, seeing as he is also their boss. Fishy very Fishy.

    • xtasy 3.2

      Maybe the same happened with Key’s visit to the GCSB offices, as happened with the GCSB spying or “monitoring” of Dotcom.

      They claim they did not know that Dotcom was a resident, hence they surveilled him.

      Perhaps the same “mistake” happened with the Key visit there. They may not have known he was the Prime Minister. Hence there was no video recording of the Prime Minister, as no Prime Minister had visited them.

      Or is this a bit too far-fetched for a “logical” explanation?

      Whatever the GCSB staff said to Key, stating for instance there is no tape, there was never a tape, hence there cannot have been any official recording, is just as “credible” as their conduct in the Dotcom case.

      Out of 55 investigations over the last 2 or so years, 3 involved ones where a similar “mistake” like with Dotcom seems to have happened. So much for “credibility” and accountability.

      It all seems to be too much of a joke all this. I believe no word they say.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    “…PS. It’s a little worrying that the spies seem to be leaking to the opposition. It’s also worrying that Slater seems to have his own leak within the security apparatus – presumably in the PM’s office…”

    Slater is a fantasist and a proven liar. It is impossible to tell when he is simply making stuff up to suit an imaginary world concocted by his wishful thinking and ego and when what he says may have a passing acquaintance with the truth. His duplicitous political hallucinations have burnt the credulous media keyboard commandoes who sometimes used him as source to often, and his credibility is zero – even for “leaks”.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    hilarious, the head snitchers are looking for snitches in their own ranks, double agents… good thinking 99, check every brief case

  6. Sanctuary 6

    Just as an aside, the continued use of the anachronism “tape” to describe any form of audio-visual recording will surely bedevil many future generations of ESOL students as they struggle with the fiendish complexity of the English language…

  7. Bill 7

    Ah yes, the old ‘hear nothing, do nothing, say nothing’ approach as you wait for Santa to fall down the chimney bearing gifts. Worked so well, so far…if stagnation in the polls was the goal.

    Anyways. I’m hoping two (three) birds go with one stone over all this.

    Key is history regardless. And Shearer (from the Campbell interview) is obviously regurgitating stuff he was spoon fed and that he never bothered to query on even a basic level.

    So (hopefully) the Goff, Robertson, King, etc faction use this opportunity of the non-existant ‘H- bomb’ to shoulder tap Shearer and push a ‘bound to topple under challenge’ Robertson forwards and upwards.

    And we get a Keyless NZ with a Labour Party that embraces Labour values to boot. Nought but a dream perhaps. But dreaming’s better than contemplating the nightmares that are the current parliamenatry left and right .

  8. Enough is Enough 8

    Shearer is now inferring there has been a cover up.

    Senior GCSB personell removed hard drives from staff offices and had the tape deleted.

    Shearer beeter be right on this or his credibilty will be questioned.

    • Dr Terry 8.1

      Shearer should be careful not to copycat Key methodology. We know that Key is a masterful gambler. For most others, it is very risky to try it on.

  9. gobsmacked 9

    Pretty simple really.

    1) Labour have the evidence.

    or

    2) Labour don’t have the evidence, but Shearer shows his skills in media manipulation, keeping the heat on Key (“full inquiry”, “national security”, “public confidence” etc).

    or

    3) Labour don’t have the evidence and Shearer stuffs it up.

    On past performance, I wouldn’t put much money on # 2. Toss-up between 1 and 3.

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      I wouldn’t put much faith in #1 either.

    • U cats r just sad, hoping for some random event to save your beloved leader JK ….. ick

      [lprent: You’re saying that to gobsmacked?? First genuine laugh of the day…

      Try “@author gobsmacked” in the search and read back a while. ]

      • thatguynz 9.2.1

        Lol, you obviously haven’t been around here for very long if you think that Lanth and GS are John Key sycophants…

        • PlanetOrphan 9.2.1.1

          They’ve been trying to “Understand” JK for too long then 🙂
          (He is a witch and he will crawl around in your head)

        • bbfloyd 9.2.1.2

          “john key syncophants”… If the money to be made from taking advantage of the mismanagement by this pseudo government, then anything is possible, even if it isn’t obvious…

        • Lanthanide 9.2.1.3

          Actually I find it quite fun when someone comes in here, sees one of my more rightward posts and assumes I’m some RWNJ and attacks me for it.

          • PlanetOrphan 9.2.1.3.1

            Why’s that Lanthanide57 ?

            • Lanthanide 9.2.1.3.1.1

              Because it’s funny?

              • I guess I need an “Ironic Sarcasm” emoticon.
                John Key would lap up your attacks on Shearer.

                • McFlock

                  JK is too busy trying to spin what looks like:
                     
                  “my department broke the law, I knew about it or at the very least was too incompetent to realise the actions were illegal, I lied about knowing what was going on, I’ve been caught out in those big lies”
                      
                  into:
                     
                  “oh noes, somebody in my department is leaking proof of my knowledge about the department’s illegal acts to the opposition, this is like the Rosenbergs giving plans of the A-Bomb to the Soviets!”

      • Sorry, their attacks on Shearer are reminiscent of Geoffrey Palmer is all
        And I was expecting ridicule for it 🙂

  10. I suspect now that this was a ‘challenge’ to the pm to at least admit to nz that
    he knew about dotcom before he has said he did in parliament,twice, which
    now proves to be the case as he has admitted he had a briefing with gcsb
    staff on the prior date,that is a win,now what needs to happen is for those
    people who are involved to come clean with their knowledge of the meeting
    and what was said,nz deserves better from our security services,this is in
    the public interest and it is not a national security issue anymore.
    It is by far a credibility issue for the pm.

    • vto 10.1

      If Key has lied in the supposed highest court in the land then surely he will be charged with the highest form of perjury in the land and receive, whenif found guilty, the highest penalty in the land……..

      But then again, some animals are more equal than others

  11. Garner said on tv3 that the hard drives were taken away a couple of days ago
    and wiped,not last night as claimed.

  12. captain hook 12

    Not sure about James Hendersons analysis of how National won in 2008.
    It seemed to me to be a combination of 24/7 incessant howling from the JOyce owned media, radio sport and the others with a non stop attack on Helen Clark and the all the manques on TVNZ who cravenly sucked for National night after night on the Stsate owned telly.
    No wonder there is not much talk about privatisation of TV1 at the moment.
    all they had to do was promise them the jobs and they just caved in.

    • tc 12.1

      Joyce was a mediwonks big wig so no surprises there but TVNZ performance shows what a bunch of turkeys voting for xmas they were.

      However mitigating circumstances in TVNZ was mahreney appointing nat fan boy recycling rick when he could’ve gone to OZ and justified recruiting a proven public broadcast manager. There’s that weakness in Clark again, friends and allies not up to the task…..King/Mallard etc

      • David H 12.1.1

        But this time media Works have paid back all the money they borrowed from Joyce and co. So they are starting to go after Key more and more. The lunchtime news is all about the missing footage.

        • Jim Nald 12.1.1.1

          Given that Key and the National Party have been rather slow (or maybe they can’t recall) at yelling anything that smacks of Dotcomgate, Spygate, Banksgate or Keygate, he should get Joyce to outsource to their agents to plant those words in the papers, radio and tv.

    • Tom Gould 12.2

      And what’s with Corin Dann paraphrasing Tory talking points night after night in lieu of reporting? Beats working I guess.

  13. McFlock 13

    On the flipside, “shooting for the moon” does show a certain level of vision and leadership in some circumstances.
       
    Shearer’s growing on me a bit.
      
    No doubt we shall see.  

  14. Herodotus 14

    As labour have admitted to having a spy within the agency does this not now expose these spy agencies to now spy on labour to ascertain where these leaks are sources from?
    Otherwise they are not protecting their brief

  15. gobsmacked 15

    OK, let’s take stock.

    24 hours ago, Key was already in deep trouble on Dotcom/GCSB, before any talk of a “tape”, before he got cornered by Patrick Gower on 3 News, before Shearer was on Campbell Live.

    Labour/Shearer decided to raise the stakes. Now, if you’re going to do that, the first thing you ask is “How will Key respond? What will the Nat-Machine do?”.

    And the answer was obvious – deflect by attacking Shearer. So we must assume that Labour’s decision-makers expected that to happen. So we can also assume that they have something else up their sleeve. For the media this weekend? Perhaps questions in Parliament on Tuesday?

    If they don’t, then they are incompetent. Because Labour were already winning.

    They could have sat on this until Tuesday, asked a couple of innocuous questions in the House, and then got Key on the record (“I know nothing”), and then hit him with the “tape”, or whatever it is. But they went with it last night. Let’s hope they got it right. It’s now a battle of spin, and Shearer needs to perform. Not take the weekend off. The Right won’t.

    • McFlock 15.1

      aye, there’s a fair bit to what you say.
         
      Another option (to get all GameofThrones on it) is that they figured that the Mold-GCSB connection would be pinged quickly, so actually used someone else – maybe suggested by the partner, but was the partner even in the cafeteria at the time? I.e. let them fire demonstrably false accusations to make it even worse.
         
      Personally, I think they just played the “release as soon as you catch to stop them pre-empting the issue” game, but if they did it without a copy of Key’s “quip” on their own USB they’re morons. 

    • Lanthanide 15.2

      Completely 100% agree, gobsmacked.

      And wouldn’t you know it, but National attacked Shearer:
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7807608/Key-calls-Labours-bluff-over-GCSB-tape

      Absolutely stupid timing. I think Labour have to put up or shut up now, and lose face in the meantime. No reason for them to have brought this up now.

    • Bill 15.3

      It’s now a battle of spin, and Shearer needs to perform.

      Or…it’s a battle for leadership and Shearer needs to go. Y’know? Shearer to be shoulder tapped and Robertson to step up unopposed to keep that Goff/ blah faction ‘alive’. Their gameplan for installing Robertson didn’t work out the first time around. Now they have a second bite at the cherry…to spoonfeed Shearer a lemon and watch him go bye byes.

      Not saying that is what’s happening, but am saying I wouldn’t be surprised if such a petty level of internal politiking was being played out.

      • gobsmacked 15.3.1

        Heh. I never really know whether they are being too clever by half, or too stupid by more.

        They must be smarter than me, because I can’t think of a single reason why Labour would want the manufacturing summit shoved down the pecking-order on tonight’s news.

  16. chris73 16

    As much as I thought Shearer would be good for Labour the perception is hes making shit up and telling porkies

    Cunliffe might be having another barbie…

    • gobsmacked 16.1

      He’s obviously not making shit up and telling porkies, whatever nonsense Farrar might be spinning for you to regurgitate.

      But he may have assumed the media would simply accept his word. He should know (or have been advised) that it doesn’t work that way. Shearer’s problem is not “making shit up”, it’s naivety and inexperience. Liars aren’t automatically beaten by truth – or Key would never have become PM.

      • chris73 16.1.1

        Hes either making shit or hes been duped. I’d have thought that you don’t make an allegation (especially as serious as this) unless you have evidence.

        • McFlock 16.1.1.1

          Hang on:
          are you saying that Key never mentioned Dotcom in the GCSB cafeteria? Not even Key has made that assertion.
                 
          Or are you using the words “duped” and “making shit up” simply as to whether there is a recording, if there was anything to record? Because Shearer has been as careful as Key to avoid any categorical statements on that point.
               
          Why does he need evidence? Indeed, the tories like WO have gone to as much effort as possible to show that a plausible connection for accurate information about GCSB lunchroom chats to be passed to Shearer’s office exists.
               
          I.e. regarding the muck-racking Mold-GCSB assumption, tories are saying that the accusation of the PM lying is correct, but that it’s wrong to share that fact. Their best “attack” is to say “you shouldn’t be able to prove Key is a lying bastard who was party to illegal surveillance of a NZ resident, even though that might very well be an accurate statement of fact”.
               
           

          • chris73 16.1.1.1.1

            He needs evidence to prove what hes saying, try to spin it however you like or try to divert attention to John Key it doesn’t change the fact (yes fact) that most people will expect Shearer to have proof of what hes alleging.

            Hes either been taken for a ride or hes making shit up.

            • Colonial Viper 16.1.1.1.1.1

              now waiting for Key to deny he talked about Dotcom

            • McFlock 16.1.1.1.1.2

              Like how the debate always focuses on whether shonkey came up with proof whenever he makes shit up?
                   
              Nope,  what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Not that I think for a moment Shearer has made it up.
                 
              But keep running the “he might have made it up” line alongside the “oh noes, a specific GCSB guy is telling Fran Mold what’s going on in the GCSB, it’s borderline treason” line other tories ae spinning. It adds to the fun.

      • Colonial Viper 16.1.2

        Shearer has given Key an out, and Key has used it. Now the media speculation is on Shearer instead of where it should be – on Key.

        Labour has 1 day to deliver the coup de grace. Tuesday in Parliament is far too late in this 24 hour news cycle environment.

        • Anne 16.1.2.1

          Absolutely agree CV.

          Labour’s got the week-end to come up with the goods. Leave it until Tuesday and they’re gone. The media jury will have already returned with their verdict and it will be “guilty as charged”.

          Goff found out to his disadvantage that it’s never about the truth! Hasn’t Labour learnt the lesson? As far as the MSM is concerned it’s all about ‘the image’ and being on the winning side!

          • Colonial Viper 16.1.2.1.1

            National has the money to buy the best consultants, and it seriously shows. Key wasted no time in changing tack when given a breath of fresh air by Shearer.

  17. QoT 18

    a) he hasn’t claimed that the tape definitely exists, only that sources in the GCSB claim it does

    That’s … frankly, John Key-level bullshit. If no recording is found, and Shearer uses this as his defence, he should get the fuck out of politics.

    I am somewhat heartened because he’s already laid the groundwork for “they can’t find it because they erased it”. Because if he seriously tried to use the above … there goes all ability to ever criticise John Key for using weasel words again.

    • infused 18.1

      Labour have just shot themselves in the foot. I’ll place $100 on it that there is no tape. Labour have just been called.

    • lol … The “Tape” has been destroyed …… If they want to hear it, they’ll have to step under the cone of silence …..

      I doubt the public will ever hear it.

  18. irascible 19

    In this key world of double-speak, mis-speaking and memory lapses stated as “I’m not in a position to say that” the mere allegation that there is or was a recording made of KeY wise-cracking his way through an off the cuff speech to the assembled spies is enough to further undermine his credibility. Shearer doesn’t have to produce the alleged recording it is up to KeY to produce a correct time line and credible evidence of what he has said, written or read on the Dotcom saga to demonstrate to the NZ public that he is genuine, he is not lying, has never lied and has dealt with the agences, the people and the NZ public in an honest manner. However, I’m not banking on KeY being able or willing to do so as that is nt how a money speculator opoerates and old habits ie hard.

  19. I don’t agree with the “preserve credibility at all costs” message this article is relaying. While I accept the “slowly, slowly catch the monkey” approach is effective and safe it is entirely inappropriate at this point.

    To apply such an approach, (and such an approach was applied by last term’s opposition), is to entirely ignore the unacceptable behaviour being conducted by this Government (and the last one). To remain silent, as was done last term, leads to the message that this behaviour is quietly condoned. Little wonder so many people didn’t bother voting.

    “Unacceptable behaviour” does not simply refer to the whole KimDotCom saga-nor string of ‘compromised truths’ our PM deems fit to relay to us all; it is the swag of things that have been going on both this and last term that assures those with eyes to see that the pack-of-clowns that make up this Government have no respect for (or knowledge of?) any of the reasons and purposes behind anything relating with the workings of high office (regulations, due process, constitution…), of particular note, sound democracy, appears to be particularly distasteful to these creatures.

    It needs to be remembered that The Opposition Parties aren’t creating these dramas that they are currently addressing; they are simply speaking out against a whole series of fiascos that this government are creating all by themselves out of their own wrong-minded attitudes toward the privileges they hold. It is my opinion that if our Opposition Parties had continued to stay silent on these issues, it would have been entirely out of order.

    So, please, enough of the “Oo Mr Shearer’s risked his credibility-he should have played it safe” If that’s what he’s risked-all the better-this simply shows he’s just proven himself to hold a great deal more respect for the authority of office and the NZ population, over one issue, than this Government will manage to display over any length of time.

  20. Stan 21

    This is like saying Helen Clark is a lesbian and I am sure there is a tape to back it up somewhere

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