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Spying scandal forensics

Written By: - Date published: 10:46 am, August 4th, 2013 - 48 comments
Categories: Parliament, Spying - Tags: , , , ,

National’s Friday afternoon document dump of emails between the Henry enquiry and Parliamentary Services is a trove of information. John Armstrong describes the whole mess as “Govt betrayal on a monumental scale”.

Anyone planning to sort through the email evidence trail will find that a lot of the work has been done for them already by none other than Pete George. Although my personal advice to Pete would be to spend more time outside in the fresh air, I don’t think anyone could deny that he’s done a great job with these emails! There are extracts from two of his posts here, but go read both of them on his site (and maybe leave him a comment or two).

Update: It turns out that the first of these quoted posts, on the timeline, is not George’s work at all, it is from Scoop. Disappointing that George would repost that without attribution.

Henry Inquiry timeline


Monday 20 May 11:41am Henry Inquiry Administrator emails Parliamentary Service – were you able to locate remaining 10 or so phone records? On another matter, how long would it take for you to retrieve the content of emails if we requested them? If those emails were for Ministers, does that present any issues?
1:32pm Parliamentary Service replies to Henry Inquiry Administrator to say “it can be the same day if it is only a few or less. I believe we have the necessary approval for Ministers.”
2:25pm Henry Inquiry Administrator lodges formal request for all emails between Andrea Vance and Peter Dunne between 22 March and 9 April (dates provided in metadata rundown in email on 16 May at 3:24pm). Also emails between Andrea Vance and one staff member from each of Adams, Finlayson, Tolley, PM’s offices.
5:53pm Henry Inquiry Administrator emails Parliamentary Service and requests phone records for Ministers and staff extensions for contact to and from two “numbers of interest” (Andrea Vance’s landline and mobile). Also states “Please note, we do not want the call logs of the two numbers of interest. That is outside the parameters of our Inquiry.”
21 May 9:55am Parliamentary Service forwards email record request to a contractor allocated to this. Parliamentary Service then emails contractor to get idea of effort and ETA.
10:50am Parliamentary Service contractor sends email with attachment of emails records for Dunne/Vance and email records between four Ministerial staff/Vance to Parliamentary Service at 10:50am.
4:25pm Parliamentary Service sends email records file for Dunne/Vance emails and emails between four staff and Andrea Vance to Inquiry at 4:25pm. At 5:12pm Parliamentary Services emails Henry Inquiry Administratorwith a message to call urgently re email sent today and then sends a recall notice for email at 5:18pm. Email titled “DPMC Info Request”.
5:16pm At 5:16pm Parliamentary Service sends revised file with only email records between four Ministerial staff/Vance to Inquiry. Email titled: “Last part of info”
Henry Inquiry Administrator deletes email titled “DPMC info requests” with Dunne/Vance email records from his email without opening file.
Thursday 23 May 8:34am Henry Inquiry Administrator to Parliamentary Service re email title “last part of info” to say “as discussed we can’t open .pst documents”
9:30am Henry Inquiry Administrator emails Parliamentary Service saying Mr Henry discussed an issue with Ministerial Services and Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff but not Acting Head of Parliamentary Service. The upshot is that Acting Head of Parliamentary Service will be talking with Dunne’s office with the aim of getting the Minister’s permission to view the emails.
Sunday 26 May 9:49pm Parliamentary Service emails Henry Inquiry Administrator – “if you have authorisation sorted, I can send you the files.”



Henry inquiry – emails on emails.

The Henry inquiry requested email logs and contents relating to Peter Dunne and Andrea Vance. This information was sent to them. They claim to have been unable to open the email contents file.

But the email trail shows that these emails were requested and obtained before authorisation was even attempted – a week before non authorisation was acknowledged.


The emails are sent the following day, 21 May.
Henry email 23 May 1

Another two days later they say they can’t open the email file.Henry email 23 May 2

Still no permission, still requesting they work around the problem of email access.

Peter Dunne says “my approval was never sought – first I knew they had been accessed was when I met Henry for the first time on 23 May”.

The emails had already been requested and received.

Henry email 27 May 1

A week after requesting the email contents, six days after sending the email contents, five days after first failing to open the email contents file, four days after continuing to work around the problem, an acknowledgement they don’t have authorisation.

This brings into question this claim:

About 40 minutes after the message was sent,  officials tried to recall the email and asked the inquiry to call urgently.

The head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Andrew Kibblewhite said the file was deleted immediately and could not have been opened because the email system was incompatible with that used by .

Sent on Tuesday morning, advise they can’t open on Wednesday morning, asked to continue trying to work around the access issue on Thursday morning.


Good work Pete George. Now someone needs to cross-reference these timelines with all the official statements and denials. We can get this started in comments…


48 comments on “Spying scandal forensics”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Agreed r0b about the work that Pete had been doing on this issue! I have been hoping that he would persuade Dunne to change his mind on the GCSB bill …

    • r0b 1.1

      I hope so too, but I don’t think it’s likely. I think it’s clear than Dunne has been bought off with a deal for the next election.

      • CC 1.1.1

        ………. or blackmailed with the contents of some emails???

        • Paul

          I sense the latter

          • Anne

            Me too. Dunne’s interview on Campbell Live left me with the feeling that he’s scared about something… perhaps a past action or comment of his he knows John Key et al know about, and which will be acutely embarrassing and hard for him to explain should it ever become public knowledge.

            There is a big difference between Muldoon and Key. Muldoon was a bully and he didn’t hide it. Key is a bully but he hides behind a veneer of laid back good cheer. The latter bullies are the dangerous ones because they can do untold damage with few people being aware of it.

            • Craig Glen viper

              Spot on Anne.

              • JonL

                Key is a psychopath – the worst of all options!

                • Draco T Bastard

                  And, by extension, so is the National Party. Yes, they are people in National who aren’t psychopaths but they’re still following the leader.

            • RedLogix

              Yes. While few of us here can have much sympathy for Peter Dunne’s politics, you have to respect the fact that he’s survived a remarkably long time in Parliament and he does know how the system works. He’s no fool.

              So when he appears on Campell Live and makes a total dumpling of himself … you know for certain that something else is at work here.

            • Paul

              The mainstream media was complicit in the creation mod Key’s image.

            • asd

              Superb analysis and the truth about Key:

              “Muldoon was a bully and he didn’t hide it. Key is a bully but he hides behind a veneer of laid back good cheer.”

              And this is why Key is the most damaging bully of all, and explains clearly why the general public need to take these issues (GCSB etc) very seriously indded:

              “The latter bullies are the dangerous ones because they can do untold damage with few people being aware of it”

              Thanks Anne. That’s a gem that’ll eventually come home to roost.

    • Skinny 1.2

      Mick… Dunne won’t back down from supporting the bill because Key has a plan ‘B’ up his sleeves. There is another MP that has voted NO that thinks the bill is ok after the third reading ‘fact.’ I bet if that MP is pinned down you will not get a guaranteed answer they will vote NO again. 

  2. Anne 2

    It should be noted here that Helen Clark was interviewed (yesterday I think) but I can’t locate where I read it.

    She went to some pains to point out that… in her experience as NZ prime-minister she had full cooperation and due diligence from both the SIS and the GCSB. She intimated she had total confidence in them for the way they carried out their duties, and the warrants she signed were always well within the law as it was understood to be..

    Very interesting and confirms one or two things for me but I must rush…

    I thought the link was on Stuff. Can someone locate it?

    • Veutoviper 2.1

      Chris Laidlaw’s interview with Helen Clark was on his programme this morning on RNZ National about 11.15am.

      The interview was excellent, but is not yet up on the website.

      It was after “Down the list” – one of the best and a Must Listen!


    • Waffler 2.2

      I think it’s this one


      It was on the main politics page last night – couldn’t find it there this morning.

    • Colonial Viper 2.3

      in her experience as NZ prime-minister she had full cooperation and due diligence from both the SIS and the GCSB. She intimated she had total confidence in them for the way they carried out their duties

      Nah, good as Clark was, a good number of those 88 NZers illegally spied on were done on her watch.

      This is not a matter of trusting any particular politician from any specific political party at any given time. That’s just not enough. Every government no matter its shade has to be bound down tightly with strict oversight and transparency requirements.

    • Robert M 2.4

      The interview was a video one by audrey young in the NZ Herald. The possibly more interesting comment by Clark was that she had always assumed politicians communications were intercepted. Possibly from early in her career with her interest in defence matters and anti nuclear causes she had reason to believe, phone calls etc were monitored ,of politicians and writers with relevant knowledge of defence. As NZ was a member of Anzus at the time and the predecessor USACUK or whatever predecessor agreement for signals intelligence before the five eyes set up it it is probably correct to believe that any effective and accurate journalist or politician with an interest in defence private communications and public writings would be examined closely even 30 years ago as NZ sources and services had access to some critical ANZUS and British intelligence.
      Clark said she responded by keeping her public and private statements consistent, ie no deviance or variation and I suppose anything more sensitive by word of mouth, hand shake or friendly courier. Such a conservative and cautious instinct may greatly have aided her rise in NZ and World Politics and other political aspirants of whatever colour should take note.

  3. Veutoviper 3

    Well there is good in all of us – sometimes hard to discover. Thanks to PG for this hard work.

    However, being pedantic, I have a question/issue with one particular point in the summary:

    Thursday, 23 May
    “9:30am Henry Inquiry Administrator emails Parliamentary Service saying Mr Henry discussed an issue with Ministerial Services and Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff but not Acting Head of Parliamentary Service. The upshot is that Acting Head of Parliamentary Service will be talking with Dunne’s office with the aim of getting the Minister’s permission to view the emails.”

    The actual email says
    “David Henry has discussed with … but not with David Stevenson (to the best of my knowledge). The upshot is that David will be discussing with Rob Eady….”

    It is unclear which David is referred to in the “The upshot is that David…”; whereas PG’s summary assumes this is David Stevenson. From the previous sentence saying that David Henry has not discussed it with David Stephenson, I would assume that it was agreed that David Henry, not Stevenson, would talk to Eady.

    A small point, but makes a difference in terms of responsibility/accountability.

    • bad12 3.1

      What is clear tho, is that there was much to-ing and fro-ing between the various players using ‘verbal communications’ as the medium,

      A lot of this ‘verbal communication’ will never be revealed in either content or intent, ie: a verbal conversation between the Prime Ministers Chief of Staff and Ministerial Services may have been seen by Ministerial Services as ‘threatening’

      Questioning at the Privileges Committee hearings later in the month may well reveal more of the scope and nature of these verbal communications,

      The 2 central issues exposed by the ‘document dump’ are as the post points out, the timeline of the phone records/email records, when they were sent from Parliamentary Services and for how long they were in the possession of the Henry Inquiry/Prime Ministers Office,

      Obviously that first point exposes the LIE put forward by the Prime Minister and i cannot at this moment remember if this LIE was conveyed by the Prime Minister in the House as part of an answer during ‘Question Time’, i am sure tho this will not escape the attention of either David Shearer or Russell Norman,

      The second aspect, whether the phone/email records were ever read by either the Henry Inquiry or the Prime Ministers Office would firstly probably only be able to be exposed by some form of forensic examination of the different Parliamentary computer networks, something i dare suggest will not occur,

      However, if Dunne stands by the public assertion, broadcast on Prime News on the Thursday night befor Friday’s ‘document dump’ that Henry came to Him and verbally asked about ‘specific’ cell phone communications between Him,(Dunne), and Andrea Vance then at the least a prima facie case is made that the information contained in the phone/email records had been ‘read’ by either Henry or someone who then conveyed the specifics of those phone/email records to Henry…

    • Veutoviper 3.2

      Correction to my comment at 3.

      As mentioned in my post at 6, the timeline, including the summary of the Thurs 23 May 9.30am email quoted in my 3, appears to be that of DPMC and is included in their Friday press release on Scoop.

      My query as to which David is referred to still stands – if anything, it would probably serve DPMC’s interests to give the impression that the ‘David’ was Stevenson, not Henry.

  4. Molly 4

    Apart from the occasional spelling and grammar errors in the emails, I do wonder about the competency of the staff there at the inquiry.

    Took all of three seconds to type “.pst Groupwise” into Google to find the software plugin to allow you to read the Outlook files. Might be a security issue, but seems pretty below par to me.

    • Pete 4.1

      You can’t just install things willy-nilly on work computers in the government sector. At least not when I worked in the public service. You just don’t have the rights to run a .exe file. You have to get someone from the IT department to install it – I don’t know if that extends to plugins, I was able to install Firefox plugins without issue.

      If the Henry enquiry did need some kind of permission, there should be an IT work order – which itself should be OIA-able.

      • Molly 4.1.1

        Yes, thought that was likely to be the case, but the response time of four days still seems ridiculous for an enquiry that was operating on a strict time restraint.

        Be interesting if the work order was requested.

        • yeshe

          Or how about simply replying to whomever sent it as .pst asking for it to be supplied in HTML or another format ? Duh.

          No, I just can’t believe the reply that went back saying we haven’t requested it, don’t need it anyway, and can’t open it. LIES, LIES, LIES ( courtesy the late JJ Cale)

          This is unravelling in much the way that Watergate did .. and the greatest protection Nixon enjoyed at the very beginning was that few believed the President would orchestrate such awful deceits.

          Actually, I am waiting for Mrs Dunne to be our Martha Mitchell; she, who would not be silenced out of pure love and respect for her country.

  5. BrucetheMoose 5

    I consulted my trusty Crystal Ball today. It told me that John Key will be taking a holiday or have a important international engagement to attend very soon. It wasn’t clear on the details, as unfortunately the batteries are a bit flat.

  6. Veutoviper 6


    Re the timeline, it would seem that this was not PG’s work although put up on his website (without any mention of source or whether it was his work). .

    Here is the DPMC’s Friday press release on Scoop


    Scroll down and low and behold at the bottom – this timeline.

    The second PG Post (emails on emails) appears to be his own work.

    He also has several newer posts up – including one claiming that Helen Clark supports the GCSB Bill and Dunne’s amendments…. I did not see Q & A, so cannot comment on his claim.

    • mickysavage 6.1

      I did. Helen said in general terms that the security organizations are important and necessary and if there were problems with the drafting they needed to be fixed.

      She was very discrete and did not criticise the bill. There is no way that her diplomacy should be interpreted as support however.

      • lprent 6.1.1

        Ah so PG is back to his usual form. Insinuating a dogwhistle.

      • Dan1 6.1.2

        I listened to Helen frankly, openly and without hesitation, answer diplomatically all the questions Dann put to her. At no time did I try to figure out what lie was coming next; what pathetic putdown was coming next; what shifty deal was in the wings.
        As other bloggers have noted, she was outed on the notion of too much nanny state interventionism. I am so sad that such a talented woman was chucked out by a PM with strong pyschopathic tendencies and leading NZ to who knows where.
        Dunne and Peters need to come on board and chuck this embarassment back to Hawaii.

      • swan 6.1.3

        I suspect she would rather parliament fix the original Act rather than the opposite – make it explicit that what was happening under her and JK’s leadership was illegal, and was not acceptable to parliament. A bit of a retrospective validation if you will.

    • r0b 6.2

      Thanks Veutoviper. Disappointing that George posted that without attribution.

  7. BLiP 7

    Where are all the emails from Ministerial Services to both Parliamentary Services and the Henry Administrator? There’s one or two there but where’s the rest of them? Does “Ministerial Services” also include Wayne Eagleson? Also, I want to see John Key’s emails during this time.

    • BLiP 7.1

      . . . and, since I’m on my high horse, to whom were each of the emails copied?

    • TruthSeeker 7.2

      Yes, exactly. Also critical are any comms between Henry and Kibblewhite/Eagleson and Kibblewhite.

  8. Rhinocrates 8

    Much as I am loath to admit that PG, who has always been terrified of anyone actually having a stance on anything and obsessively determined to smother every debate under a mountain of cold porridge as a consequence, is this a positive sign that even the most servile now are starting to realise, dimly, that maybe they don’t trust their idols after all? It could be, coupled with the MSM show ponies’ belated realisation that they’re not loved as much as they love in itself promise a much-awaited fundamental shift in their previously complacent support for the Nat brand.

    The exotherm turns against the cryogenically cold capitalist. Well, I suppose that’s at least late winter, if not spring. Sorry for the REALLY obscure metaphor…

    • felix 8.1

      Yeah nah.

      PG is just sticking up for his homie PD, nothing more. There’s no principle in it.

  9. Sable 9

    I think Dunnes behaviour is reprehensible BUT lets not forget the treatment he received when he was perceived as a whistle-blower. He should have been supported by the Greens and Labour but he wasn’t. Maybe if he had been he would have felt he had more scope to oppose Keys rather than feeling surrounded by enemies on all sides.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      yep. Political mistake by both the Greens and Labour. A holier than thou attitude does not wash with the electorate; successfully convincing Dunne to oppose the GCSB bill would have.

  10. Rosetinted 10

    Matthew Hoots and Mike Wills are having a lively discussion this a.m. The Tea Party NZ was brought up. Apparently the police could access everybody’s emails and phones between the cameraman Ambrose and TV, and so on. It was a good practice run for this GCSB buiso.

    Hoots was having a go at Nicky Hager reading other people’s communications – whistle blowing for the purpose of revealing info to the public is apparently disgraceful behaviour to him. He can be trusted to take this sort of line. One thing is that he is consistent.

  11. It seems the Standard is being monitored by the NSA according to a Firefox addon purporting to be able to tell.

    The alert also rang when I accessed Martin Bradbury’s “the Daily blog” and not when I accessed Kiwiblog and Whaleoil.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      It may simply be an issue of where the servers are based. Nevertheless, the NSA screens and records almost all web traffic so I don’t think we should feel too creeped out.

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