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Timeline: Key responsible for SIS release

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 am, August 23rd, 2014 - 73 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, Media - Tags: , , , ,

There’s a confusing amount of detail swirling around the release of SIS briefing notes to Cameron Slater – one of the main issues summarised in Dirty Politics. I was certainly confused earlier in the week, so I set out to pull together a timeline of events.

TLDR? Key is responsible for the release. For the long version read on.


 

“When you talk to my chief of staff, you talk to me.”

 
The 2011 incident behind all this is the possible operation of Israeli spies in NZ and an SIS investigation into this. By far the best summary is here.   Phil Goff denied that he was briefed by the SIS.  Briefing notes (redacted) from the SIS contradicting Goff were released under the OIA to Slater, who published them.  Was there political interference in the process?  To what extent was Key and his office involved?

Here’s a timeline.
My comments are in italics.

2011

July 20
Following an article in the Southland Times the original story (involving possible Israeli spies and the SIS) breaks.  Interview with Key: “Speaking to reporters in San Francisco this afternoon, Mr Key said there was a police and SIS investigation because of the rapid way in which the Israelis left the country after the February earthquake.  …  Currently on tour in the US, he said it was “not in the national interest” to give details of any SIS inquiry.

July 23
Key’s US visit ends and he goes to Hawaii on holiday.

July 24
John Key on Q&A – conducted while he was in Hawaii

Phil Goff was briefed, yeah, that’s right. I personally didn’t brief him, but my understanding from the director of SIS, Warren Tucker, is that he was briefed and he was shown the same note and report that I saw.

Note that Key and Tucker have been in touch about this while Key is not in NZ – so they certainly communicate while Key is abroad.

July 24
John Key says the SIS briefed Phil Goff about the behaviour of Israeli nationals in Christchurch. Mr Goff contacts SIS director Dr Warren Tucker to say he had not been briefed.”

July 25
Mr Goff and Dr Tucker meet to discuss the matter.”

July 25 
Whaleoil post “Goff Needs to go
“All someone has to do now is ask Warren Tucker to produce the briefing notes and Goff is a goner.”

July 26
Dirty Politics, Chapter 3: “The following day [July 26] he [Slater] sent a carefully worded information request to Tucker [SIS] asking for copies of the briefing notes and ‘details of any acknowledgement’ that Goff had read them [6]” … “The released documents were stamped as being declassified on 26 July 2011, the same day that Slater sent off his request.”

Who declassified these documents?  What authority is required to do that? Polity blog 2014: “The classified SIS documents were almost immediately declassified, for reasons nobody has explained.”

July 28
Dirty Politics, Chapter 3, discussion between Slater and “Smith”: “I’ll finish him [Goff] off in the next couple of days. ‘More dirt?’ Smith asked.  ‘Can’t say right now,’ Slater said. ‘I’m sworn to secrecy.  But it will be catastrophic.’

Who swore Slater to secrecy?  How did he know it will be “catastrophic”?

July 31
Key returns from holiday.

Key says he was on holiday when all this took place, but note the time gap until…

August 2
Documents released to Slater.

Fairfax had requested the same document a few days earlier and the SIS refused to release it to them. (Text since deleted from this article but still available on Google reads: “The documents were released to Slater six days after he requested them, but a request from Fairfax Media for the same documents was denied.”).  A third request, the documents were requested by Selwyn Manning at Scoop on 29 July and released to him 8th August.  Manning: “As I understand it, the Dominion Post put in one that was very closely worded [to mine] but didn’t get a response. I am left to consider whether my OIA request was in some way used to legitimise the security information drop to the Whaleoil site.”

The SIS claim is that Slater’s request was actioned so quickly, and apparently preferentially, because it was more specifically worded than other requests.  Hmmmm.

August 2
(Whaledump: Slater & Bhatnagar chat, edited for clarity)
Slater: Should be a big day tomorrow
if my PO Box has a nice brown envelope with OHMS on it
I OIAd the briefing minutes and notes for Goff’s SIS briefing
it has been expedited
in the public interest
it is devastating for Goff I am told

August 3
(Whaledump: Slater & Bhatnagar chat, edited for clarity)
Bhatnagar: did the package arrive?
Slater: nope
getting really annoyed
will check again tonight and again in teh am
probably going to be ganked by MSM in Wgtn getting the docs first which will be annoying

August 4
(Whaledump: Slater & Bhatnagar chat, edited for clarity)
Bhatnagar: I take it you have a deal with one of the TV channels over the SIS reply?
Slater: yep tv3
Bhatnagar: garner?
Slater: yep
other media are now calling
feeding frenzy

August 4
Whaleoil post releasing the redacted SIS briefing notes. “Phil Goff and his briefings he never had

A summary at this point from Dirty Politics, Chapter 3: “Slater had been ‘sworn to secrecy’; he knew from the start that his information request had ‘been expedited’ and that the documents were devastating for Goff. He was working clandestinely with insiders who knew what the briefing paper said and were involved in its release to him under the OIA. Those insiders can only have been in the SIS or Key’s office. … In other words, it was not the SIS that tipped off Slater and arranged for him to run the attack. It was the prime minister’s staff. Given that it was highly political SIS business, there seems no doubt that John Key knew what was happening, approved it and had his staff liaise with Slater about the release.”

August 5
Journalists are suspicious. Sludge Report on Scoop : “What communication was there between the 9th floor and, a) Cameron Slater and other journalists, and b) the SIS and Tucker, around the release of the document?”

August 8
John Key press conference,  video

What happened is Warren Tucker didn’t come to me, he went to his legal adviser and his legal advisers told him this is the process they have to follow and when he was going through that process it was at that point he told me he’d release it because he has to tell me that under the no-surprises doctrine.” [my emphasis]

Watch the video above  – Key says that he was told, not his Office.  He seems very well informed.  The reporters at this event, and the Sludge Report August 5th, are all suspicious that Slater has been given very special treatment.  Hence the OIA requests from Felix Marwick below…

November 9
Letter from SIS director to Felix Marwick NewstalkZB – Tucker writes:

Following discussion with the Office of the Ombudsmen, in relation to your request of 4 August, I can confirm that there was no written “correspondence with the Government and the Office of the Prime Minister regarding the NZSIS decision to release information to Mr Cameron Slater”. I notified the Prime Minister (in accordance with my usual practice to keep the Minister informed on a “no surprises” basis) that I was going to release redacted documents in response to the request from Mr Slater. I advised the Prime Minister that I had received legal advice that there were no grounds for withholding the information given the public disclosures already made about the existence and some of the content of the briefing. I informed the Prime Minister that I had informed Mr Goff of my decision to release the information.  [my emphasis]

October 31
Letter from the office of the Ombudsman to Felix Marwick NewstalkZB:

“Dr Tucker has advised Ms Wakem that he is prepared to release a statement regarding his discussion with the Prime Minister…” “There is no written correspondence with the Government and the Office of the Prime Minister…” “Ms Wakem is of the view that there is good reason to withhold Dr Tucker’s full recollection of his discussion with the Prime Minister…”

We are required to believe that all references to the Prime Minister in fact refer to the Office of the Prime Minister (despite the fact that the Office of the Prime minister is clearly distinguished in some cases).   As Manning points out, the government’s own guidelines require Key to have been informed.

Now fast forward to …

2014

August 13
Publication of Dirty politics by Nicky Hager, Chapter 3 describes the way in which Slater worked with the PMs Office on the release of the SIS briefing documents in 2011 as above.

Hager confirms a lot of suspicions that were prevalent at the time, as above. 

August 21 
Key denies political interference.  John Key: “The basic claim that somehow my office was either pressuring the system, speeding up the process, injecting itself into the process – all of that is flatly incorrect.” (This quote no longer appears in the original source.)  From Stuff:

Key said from time to time he had had discussions with Tucker about the release of OIAs. “But prior to the release of this one I didn’t have any discussions at all. ” He had got back from holiday on July 31 and the discussions about the OIA took place before that. The release went out on August 2 but there was no discussion between him and Tucker about it.  “He did deal with my office but the claims that have been made … that there was political interference that’s absolutely not true.” … Key said Tucker had briefed someone in his office. He would not name the person, but said it was not Jason Ede. … He did not have any details and had not asked those in his office about how Slater had known it would be “devastating for Goff” before it was released.  [my emphasis]

August 21
There will be an investigation: “Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn will investigate the release of SIS documents to Cameron Slater.” (Unlikely to report until after the election.)

August 22
John Key, commenting on the video of August 8 2011: “In the context of that video, ‘me’ meant my office”.

 
Yeah right.

My conclusions:

Key wants us to believe two contradictory things:
(1) He and his office are so indivisible that when he and others refer to him(self) they are really referring to his office.
(2) He and his and office are so separate that when his office was briefed on the documents released to Slater he was completely unaware of it.

Point 1 is rubbish.  Too many people, including John Key himself, refer to “the Prime Minister” / “me” being informed, for them all to have mistakenly meant the Office of the Prime Minister (especially given that some of them carefully distinguish the Office on some occasions).  We have seen an “orchestrated litany of lies” before in this country, we are seeing something similar now.

Point 2 is rubbish.  When John Key said on August 8 2011 “It was at that point he [Tucker] told me he’d release it because he has to tell me that under the no-surprises doctrine” he knew exactly what was going on.  He can pretend that Tucker told his office and not him, but he can’t deny that in either case he was fully in the loop on August 8th – because that is him right there in the video speaking the words, not his office.

In the end splitting hairs about Key vs his office is just a distraction. Key is responsible for the actions of himself, and the actions of his office, and is the Minister in charge of the SIS. The fingerprints of political interference are all over this event, from the unexplained de-classification of the document (who authorised this?), to its expedited release, to Slater knowing in advance (who swore Slater to secrecy?) what it contained, to the denial of a request from Fairfax for the same document (on what grounds?).  The buck stops with Key.  If he gets away with it, our democracy is stuffed.

73 comments on “Timeline: Key responsible for SIS release ”

  1. AmaKiwi 1

    100% correct

  2. kenny 2

    So who gives permission for the speedy release of the information requested by Slater?

    If not John Key, who?

    Surely not some non-elected clerk or aide? This is a highly sensitive political matter.

    Maybe the cleaner?

    Unbelievable!

    • AmaKiwi 2.1

      A script for methadone can NOT be signed by a practice nurse. It MUST be signed by a licensed doctor.

      An SIS classified document can NOT be declassified by “the office of the PM.” It can ONLY be declassified by one human being, the Prime Minister.

      The power to declassify can NOT be delegated.

      Smoking gun!

      • Pasupial 2.1.1

        Would this have been one of the times when Bill English was acting PM while Key was back home in the USA? Tucker says; “I notified the Prime Minister”, who would have arguably been English rather than Key at the time of declassification. Has anyone asked English if he authorised the release in this capacity? He was certainly aware of the issue (from TVNZ 4/8/2011):

        A handwritten note on the documents states Goff has read the papers. It is not clear who wrote the note. In Tucker’s response, he said the SIS does not have any acknowledgement by Goff of having read or received the documents…

        Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said he is taking Tucker’s word over Goff’s.

        “I think a senior civil servant who advised the previous Prime Minister and the current Prime Minister on issues of national security – a man of integrity – I’d believe him.”

        English said Goff “is going too far” in questioning Tucker’s integrity.

        http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/goff-attacks-sis-head-over-spy-probe-4339542

        Note the slippery use of language; “I think… I’d believe him.”, rather than; “I do believe him”.

    • Delia 2.2

      Do not be surprised if we do hear the cleaner did it next.

  3. dv 3

    Perhaps his office also runs his blind trust???

  4. Weepus beard 4

    John Key: Confusing National’s security with national security since 2008.

  5. Ant 5

    Tucker and Key are both lying. Some regular public service arse-covering, in the context of a closely fought election, became an expedient and convenient political hit.

    It seems fairly obvious that Tucker didn’t discuss shit with Goff, probably just ticked it off his list of things to discuss after the fact, what we’re seeing is a lie that has grown legs of its own.

  6. ianmac 6

    Excellent outline Rob.
    The Master of a ship is held responsible for all actions of his ship. If he is asleep and the ship hits something he is still held responsible.
    In Key’s ship he denies responsibility but leaves open to speculation just who might be responsible. He, the captain, knows but he is not saying who was the commanding officer at the time in question.
    So Key is still responsible for the actions of the SIS shipwreck and the staff in his office.

    • Pasupial 6.1

      +1 ianmac

    • UglyTruth 6.2

      The Master of a ship is held responsible for all actions of his ship.

      Who is the master when it is a matter of espionage/defence, involving a group with known links to state-sponsored terrorism? The commander in chief of the state is not a New Zealander, and has traditional links to those involved in the establishment of the Zionist state favoured by Slater.

    • Man in a Barrel 6.3

      “So Key is still responsible for the actions of the SIS shipwreck and the staff in his office.”

      By constitutional convention, yes. See a very useful and succinct (not by me) summary of this in my post:

      We Are Asking the Wrong Question

      • Man in a Barrel 6.3.1

        Of course respecting constitutional conventions, and resigning on breaking them, is purely down to a matter of personal self-respect and integrity, perhaps with some help from peer pressure. Key’s blustering refusal and the apparent lack of pressure ‘to do the right thing’ from his peers shouts to me of a complete lack of integrity in both him and them. Ditto Collins who’s disregard of constitutional convention is even more blatant.

        I have in the past 25 years voted variously for National, Labour, New Zealand First, the Alliance and the Greens and often don’t make up my mind finally until in the polling booth. There are National policies I support and Labour policies I don’t, and as someone choosing to live my own life frugally on the income from limited investment portfolio as opposed to selling my labour and my time to another, – no doubt qualifying me to the title of ‘renter’, ‘financial parasite’ or ‘rich foreign prick’ in the minds of some of you – National might even have picked up my vote this time around. I’ve always thought of Key as shallow and insincere but until his recent performance over this matter would have have credited him with at least a basic human grasp of integrity and ethics. FWIW he’s blown it with me, and National have ruled themselves out for my vote this time around at least.

        • Colonial Viper 6.3.1.1

          If you can get by day to day without having to enrich other people through your own hard labour, and you are not imposing onerous usurious requirements on others or on the environment, then all the power to you mate.

  7. Tigger 7

    Thanks AR, that provides some clarity on the timeline. Really appreciate you taking time to step this out.

    MSM – why haven’t you done this? This is your damn job!

    This issue isn’t going away.

  8. This belongs in your timeline regarding the reason why Slater made the OIA request.

    Goff complains to SIS about PM’s briefing claim
    Published: 6:42AM Monday July 25, 2011 Source: Newstalk ZB/ONE News
    http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/goff-complains-sis-pm-s-briefing-claim-4321799

    • Pasupial 8.1

      Ugly

      I believe that very point was included in the timeline:

      July 24
      “John Key says the SIS briefed Phil Goff about the behaviour of Israeli nationals in Christchurch. Mr Goff contacts SIS director Dr Warren Tucker to say he had not been briefed.”
      July 25
      “Mr Goff and Dr Tucker meet to discuss the matter.”

      However, your link does have some interesting lines:

      Key has admitted he didn’t handle initial questions on the scandal last week, very well.
      “Sometimes you don’t get it perfectly right in the first moment,” he told reporters in Washington, saying he later realised the impression he had first left “wasn’t sustainable”.

      Goff said the prime minister’s comment on the killings in Norway were also wrong… He said the prime minister has to understand the responsibilities of his office and cannot “mouth off” without checking his facts first.

      • UglyTruth 8.1.1

        Thanks Parsupial, I was wondering if Slater’s claim that his motivation to file the OIA request arose from a news report stood up to scrutiny.

        • Brendon Harre 8.1.1.1

          Hi guys. It would be helpful in telling the story to start at the beginning. A brief summary of how the original story of Israeli’s leaving Christchurch became newsworthy.

          The PM’s corrupt behaviour needs to be put into context. Your account is excellent in detailing the middle and end. I and other readers here need to be able to retell this story to our mates as a short story so the message spreads.

          Points I would like to tell my mates are. How long was it before the 2011 election? A brief summary of what the PM said in public about the original story? What and why Phil Goff criticised this? How did this morph into an attack on Phil Goffs creditability, including John Key, his PM office and his SIS Ministry being Donkey deep in feeding the political attack to Whaleoil? Did this have an effect on the election?

          It would be best if this was presented in story form. Simple and short as possible with links to more detailed information on each point.

          • UglyTruth 8.1.1.1.1

            Brendon, some info about the original incident:

            Mizrahi, the driver, was killed instantly, and Jordan, in the front passenger seat, smashed a window and climbed through the hole to escape. The two women, Fraidman and Sade, who were sitting in the back seat, also managed to crawl out.

            They were unable to reach Mizrahi and, after taking photographs of the crushed van, made their way to Latimer Square, where Israeli officials had set up an emergency meeting point. Within 12 hours they had left New Zealand.

            Link

            Fred Tulett, editor of the Southland Times, said an “extraordinary” reaction by the Israeli government in the hours after the earthquake had heightened the suspicions of New Zealand’s Security Intelligence Service.

            Link

          • UglyTruth 8.1.1.1.2

            In 2004 there was a major diplomatic incident when Israelis in New Zealand were found to be stealing identities and faking passports. The New Zealand Herald broke the story in April 2004, stating that two men, believed to be Israeli secret service agents, were arrested in Auckland while trying to obtain a false New Zealand passport. They had been nabbed as part of a police operation. The Israeli Government wanted the matter kept out of the courts, but the Labour Government, would not bow to pressure. The two Israelis caught were Urie Zoshe Kelman and Eli Cara. Zev Barkan fled the country.

            Link

      • MrSmith 8.1.2

        http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/5333344/PM-regrets-comment-on-Israelis

        In his last interview before leaving the United States, Mr Key was asked about revelations Government agencies including police and the Security Intelligence Service had investigated the actions of a group of Israeli backpackers following February’s massive earthquake in Christchurch. He said Mr Goff had been briefed on the investigation.

        “I personally didn’t brief him, but my understanding from the director of SIS, Warren Tucker, is that he was briefed and he was shown the same note and report that I saw,” he told TVNZ’s Q+A programme.

        Mr Goff said Mr Key was wrong. “I have not received that report, I have not seen any report, I was not aware of the allegations.”

        The prime minister’s comment on the killings in Norway were also wrong, he said. “I’m sorry, the appalling murders in Norway have nothing to do with Afghanistan. They had a lot to do with a Right-wing, probably psychopathic, zealot who is anti-immigration.

        “The prime minister has to understand the responsibilities of his office. He cannot mouth off without checking his facts first, which he’s now done … on a number of occasions in the past few days.”

        Mr Key’s comments about Norway were “premature, unfortunate and didn’t stack up”, Mr Goff said. “Those were comments that were perhaps designed to impress the president.”

        The prime minister was wrong to initially refuse to comment on the Israeli backpackers, citing the national interest, Mr Goff said.

        However, Mr Key admitted the mistake himself, saying he later realised the impression he had first left “wasn’t sustainable”.

        “If I … did it all again, I’d probably start where I ended six hours later, but it comes with the territory,” Mr Key said.

        “Sometimes you don’t get it perfectly right in the first moment.”

        This is starting to smell like a Collins/Slater style attack on Goff after he embarrassed the PM after his idiotic comments.

  9. Dont worry. Be happy 9

    “People go to jail for that sort of thing” John Key accidentally telling the Truth at a presser.

  10. disturbed 10

    Timeline: Key responsible for SIS release
    Written
    By: Anthony R0bins –
    Date published:
    9:54 am,
    Thank you for making this so much clearer for us Rob. ++++++++100% we were getting confused and you have helped here.

    While my wife is reading the Micky Hager book Dirty Politics and me reading every blog on this subject between TDB & The Standard we sat for awhile after reading your good thorough “joining of the events to the time lines,”

    Afterward we sat and reflected on the whole thing, and clearly as the dots from the book and the article here match as a clear case of Ministerial interference in a Judicial process that was used as a tool by this Government to undermine the opposition Party during the last election.

    Litany of lies yes and another example of how dirty politics is the norm for this administration.

    Democracy has been given away for a cheap dirty means of holding on to government at any cost.

  11. aerobubble 11

    Let’s just understand this. News media put in requests all the time for government information, and when they do, other media can request the same information. How would they know, well its would be obvious which requests were to be made, and what documents sort. Well not always. Sometimes very specialized documents are needed, and professional media has gone to some effort and cost to deliberate source said documents.

    Now here’s the problem. Once the government knows which documents are sort, often because they have nudge nudged the media onto them… …all good I suppose… …it is a democracy. They can also indicated to their favorable media outlets who don’t know about the issue and so balance the inevitable slagging match when the story breaks.

    But what happens when the internet appears. And a blogger with little in the way of costs, is handed over and over again inside gos. Preempting not only the slow media, but faster television, without any actual upfront costs. Immediate monetrization. Worse. Without the time for a balanced response the blogger now has a clear advantage to set the framing of the future story, its narrative path.

    Now, add the injury. An election is raging. A story that undermine the integrity of the opposition leader, which essentially boils down to his word against a public servants recollection of a secret briefing. Enough to lose maybe 10,000 votes. Now this story allowed for no balance, ignored the election limits on political advertizing, which giving its actual lack of substance and inability to be verified made it so. Provided to what amounts to a paid advertiser for the right, Slater.

    So my question is, why would government public services allow a OIA to be released why an election was taking place? Why nobody seems to be worried about the implications of the organized dissemination of information via Slater that undercuts any balance? Worse, why does the government get to tell just one blogger immediately about the OIA requests of big media, then hand them over immediately, during an election, about the opposition leader?

    I mean what could be worse for our democracy. That to short it so ruthlessly, with information that could not be verified, that was no better than heresay. i.e. the information may have been in the briefing and I can’t go into what was in the briefing because its all secret. So you had the perfect gooley buster from the invisible bowler, on a staged field without any catchers.

    We need to know that OIAs to non-media like Slater are immediately available to everyone. Big media can argue that to protect their effort and cost… …hey that’s up to them.

    Key is corrupt. He cannot seriously believe he can rush out of the Beehive and declare his shock at what has been going on in the Prime Ministers Office, though I expect it to happen very soon.

  12. politikiwi 12

    Great post. Thanks for setting this all out.

  13. Stunned mullet 13

    Do I have this right, this whole argument is over whether John Key knew in advance that material was being released under the OIA, ahead of it being released that showed that Phil Goff lied to the public. Surely the story should be about Phil Goff lying??

    • mickysavage 13.1

      Why do you approve of the SIS being used for political attacks and for the PM’s office giving a Nat blogger inside information?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 13.2

      Goff paid the price for his error in 2011, and the Prime Minister is telling the truth when he says that if he was been involved in the release (especially to Slater before the fact) he’s off to prison.

      You may think it’s no big deal, Stunned Mullet, and you’d be flat wrong. The political neutrality of the SIS is fundamental to our government.

      • dave 13.2.1

        this government could use the internal security service against any citizen then that challenged then or got in there way its wrong it corrupt practice
        as for goff you we aware they are not aloud to tell anyone about an sis briefing mullet head you know that don’t you?

    • Rob Taylor 13.3

      IMHO, the whole thing was a setup – Goff says he was not permitted to keep the agenda or take notes and was NOT briefed on the Israelis.

      Clearly, that item was added to the agenda later, in an act of pure political opportunism by John Key.

      • Anne 13.3.1

        It was not necessarily added to the agenda later Rob Taylor. I suspect it was buried deep in the notes that Goff was not allowed to keep, and he didn’t get a chance to read them carefully and at the same time follow Tucker’s verbal briefing. And Goff was adamant at the time that Tucker did not mention it in his verbal briefing.

        I think it is normal procedure for SIS documents to be handed back at the end of a briefing.

  14. Chrissy 14

    ‘This will be devastating for Goff’ hmmm. Yinno it’s the coverup, John, it’s always the coverup. And, in this case, it’s also the nasty nest of conspirators, and the corpses you seem to have to hug these days.

  15. kiwigunner 15

    I’m waiting for this to hit the main stream media next. It clearly will. Things that happened in education have clearly been ‘dirty politics’. It is referred to in the book and Duncan Garner being mentioned above is no real surprise to me.

  16. Mike Smith 16

    Re the delayed release to Selwyn Manning of Scoop, it was Alastair Thompson of Scoop who is heard telling Key at the press conference on 8 August 2011 that they had not received the response to their OIA request dated 29 July. That may also explain the reference in the SIS letter “of which you are no doubt aware.” It would be interesting to know exactly when Manning received the 8 August 2011 response – before or after the press conference.

  17. Paul 17

    Isn’t that called check in chess?

  18. CM 18

    There was scrambling response on RNZ from Key a few days ago in which he mentioned that part of the reason that Tucker released the OIA to Slater so quickly was because he may have been personally annoyed at Goff for disputing the top secret meeting. Is it possible that Tucker went rogue in this case and expedited the OIA to damage Goff as revenge/utu?

    It’s the SIS ffs. Would you trust them?

    • ianmac 18.1

      So true CM. Can/would a man in such a position retaliate in such a damaging way? If so then we are in big trouble in the State Service.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 18.2

      Read the act.

      12A Prohibition on unauthorised disclosure of information
      (1)An officer or employee of the Security Intelligence Service, or a former officer or employee of the Service, shall not disclose or use any information gained by or conveyed to him through his connection with the Service otherwise than in the strict course of his official duties or as authorised by the Minister.

      Does protecting the Director from an error by the leader of the opposition count as an official duty?

    • Ffloyd 18.3

      Where is Tucker? Can he not clarify if everything is aboveboard. Also at what stage did he tell key he had got legal advice, or did he tell the cleaner that as well.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 18.3.1

        Retired, and bound by the NZSIS Act not to discuss any matters learned as a result of having once held office.

  19. Kiwiri 19

    July 24 ….. Note that Key and Tucker have been in touch about this while Key is not in NZ – so they certainly communicate while Key is abroad.

    Question for clarification:

    Does John Key travel out of NZ and keep in touch while in Hawaii with Tucker, or does the “Prime Minister’s Office” travel out of NZ and keep in touch while in Hawaii with Tucker?

    Also, can both John Key AND the Prime Minister’s Office do that, or would neither ever be possible?

    Note to self: wasting time over a Liar.

    Gradually working through that impressive timeline which you put together, Anthony Robins. Thanks.

  20. philj 20

    xox
    Hey kiwis,
    Li’l ol noo zeeland. Who da thunk?
    We find ourselves in a detective spy novel! Israeli or kiwi? A classic who done it. We know it wasn’t Jason, that’s one off the suspects list. And it wasn’t the missus, at least there’s no evidence. Do we call 111?

  21. Mike the Savage One 21

    It gets better by the day, the evidence is constantly building up, leaving us without little doubt:

    “Collins grants blogger’s request in just 37 minutes”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11313041

    “Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater got a response to an Official Information Act request from Justice Minister Judith Collins in just 37 minutes.

    He received another OIA response with just a five-hour turnaround by Ms Collins’ office – including being given correspondence which had come in just that day.

    Documents released to the Herald through the act show Slater made three requests in relation to Canadian jurist Ian Binnie’s report, which recommended David Bain be paid compensation after being found not guilty of killing his family in Dunedin.”

    Read the whole article by David Fisher here:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11313041

    The story was broken on The Nation this morning! It will be repeated at 10 am on TV3 tomorrow morning!

    Staff at Key’s Office, most likely with his full knowledge, and Judith Collins, possibly a fair few others, have closely worked with Whaleoil, Farrar and others, and most certainly Slater got preferential treatment when it came to OIA requests.

  22. disturbed 22

    Nixon started this way deny, deny, deny, and ended up still covering his arse by letting his closest aids Halderman & Erichman to attempt avoiding impeachment.

    These two advisors who had been with him since day one.

    So who has been with Key since day one?

  23. Guesting 23

    1) Key and the PM and the PM’s Office are the same;
    2) Key and the PM and the PM’s Office are not the same.

    Q: has anyone observed Key and the PM and the PM’s Office in the same room at the same time?

  24. BLiP 24

    Hello Mr R0BINS – how nice to have back here posting for us.

    I agree entirely with your TLDR conclusion that “Key is responsible for the release”. The joining of the dots timeline you have produced must have taken some time to compile, thank you. How interesting that various bits and pieces are being excised from the intrawebz by the MSM. I too have found that to be the case, especially when tracking down details of John Key’s lies. I have also noticed that various blogs, keepingstock being one example, have recently started doing the same. Frustrating.

    I do wonder, though, if you’re timeline isn’t missing a couple of important things. First, one of the major messages to come from Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics is the sheer sophistication of John Key’s Black Ops Department tactics and the concomitant efficiency of the vital “plausible deniability” aspect. In one of the videos, John Key talks about how he has “streamlined” the “no surprises” process and how he himself has been somewhat taken aback at some of what has been released into the public domain by his spies. This, of course, is a short-hand announcement that when an agency says it has spoken to the Prime Minister what that really means is that the agency as not spoken to the Prime Minister but has advised the Prime Minister’s Office. No need to say who in the Prime Minister’s Officer and/or whether or not that person passed the information along to someone else in the Prime Minister’s Office. Cut-outs left, right and centre. The glib manner in which this plausible deniability line is being delivered indicates a fair amount of rehearsal has gone into it. In fact, I expect that if Kim Dotcom’s 15 September reveal does confirm that the Prime Minister knew of Dotcom and his situation well in advance of when John Key says he did, we will see this same line being delivered with the same dimissive alacrity.

    Second, what seems to be missing from the timeline is what was going on for John Key at the time and the fact that the SIS “took legal advice” prior to the release of the briefing notes.

    What was going on for John Key is that he was facing a barrage of criticism for what should’ve been – in his mind – a spectacular display his overwhelming wonderfulness. There he was, on the international stage, standing side-by-side with POTUS speaking out on a dreadful situation before the mass media. ‘Cept, John Key fucked it up. Also worthy of mention is that John Key had been caught out lying about how many passports were found on the Israeli Mosad agent “tourist”. John Key went to obfuscate his way out of that one but repeatedly said that there had been no illegality surrounding the issuing of New Zealand passports at that time. The questions were being asked because of the 2004 incident when Mosad agents Uriel Kelman and Eli Cara were caught trying to fraudulently obtain New Zealand passports. Does New Zealand now allow spies to use New Zealand passports? Anyhow, the point is, John Key’s showboating on the international stage had turned to custard and inconvenient questions about New Zealand passports and Israeli spies were being asked. This provides both John Key and the spy agencies motivation to distract the media and the public.

    Now, when John Key says Warren Tucker spoke to the SIS lawyers, what he means is that Warren Tucker went off to Crown Law to cover his arse and make sure his release of the, albeit hugely redacted, Phil Goff briefing notes was legit. Questions I have about Tucker’s visit to Crown Law is whether or not Crown Law was being used as a cut-out and/or to reinforce actual instructions from the Prime Minister’s office to release the information. Remember, the sole reason given as to why the briefing notes were declassified is that the material was already in the public arena and the only reason the material was in the public arena was because John Key had put it there. That, my friend, is called a “set up”.

    Further complicating the matter is the fact that Warren Tucker is himself something of a dodgy bugger. There are various incidents involving the SIS and GCSB when Tucker was pulling the levers which cannot accurately be pinned directly on him. But, remember all the fuss and palava about why the GCSB had to be given the right to wholesale spy on New Zealanders was because “the law was not clear”? Well, back on 30 January 2006, Warren Tucker said . . .

    . . . The GCSB’s twin roles and functions are spelled out in the GCSB Act 2003. These are – first to collect and report secret foreign intelligence derived from the interception and analysis of foreign communications, on matters of importance to the New Zealand Government. Secondly, the GCSB provides the tools and advice necessary to ensure that the communications systems and computer networks used for official and governmental business and for critical infrastructure are properly protected from tampering and from unauthorised access. These twin roles are likened by some to that of “poacher” and “gamekeeper”, and it is no accident that they both reside within the one organisation. The GCSB Act – which enshrines in law the longstanding practices of the Bureau – makes it absolutely clear that the GCSB must not target the communications of New Zealanders . . .

    ^^^ emphasis in original

    . . . yet, Tucker didn’t issue a single peep during John Key’s ramming through of the new legislation.

    A big part of John Key’s justification for allowing the wholesale spying on New Zealanders was that the legislative changes also strengthened oversight. We now have Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security with a broadened mandate and greater authority. Trouble is, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is Cheryl Gwyn who, up until April 2014, was the Deputy Solicitor-General at Crown Law, the very same Government agency which cleared Warren Tucker’s release of Phil Goff’s briefing notes. What’s more, the Crown Law Counsel for constitutional, human rights and international law, Ben Keith, has only just recently been appointed as the Deputy Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. That is the same Ben Keith who, in his previous role as Crown Law Counsel for constitutional, human rights and international law, has assisted National Ltd™ through its Attorney-General Chris Finlayson in the systematic trashing of all sorts of human rights legislation. Among other things, he was the one from Crown Law who signed off on the GCSB legislation as being “consistent” with the Human Rights Act.

    In short, the only people investigating John Key’s involvement in the release of Phil Goff’s briefing notes the very people who gave the okay for the release of the notes. We’re fucked. Basically we will never find an actual smoking gun in John Key’s hand in releation to this matter because of the players involved and the sophistication of John Key’s malfeasance.

    • karol 24.1

      Interesting BLiP, and worthy of a post on its own.

      • Anne 24.1.1

        Agreed karol.

        My thanks and gratitude to Anthony Robins and BLiP.

        And don’t forget who appointed the current SIS director, former Cabinet Secretary, Rebecca Kitteridge. Yes, John Key. And true to form:

        She backs John Key.

        I doubt there is much chance of a genuine and transparent investigation either within or beyond the agency.

        Looks like New Zealand’s once proud egalitarian and democratic system of government is coming to a sad end.

        Perhaps our only chance of changing things lie with Whaledump – NZ’s equivalent to Deep Throat?

    • kenny 24.2

      That’s bang on the money.

      Another white-wash on the way.

      The only way to stop this crap is to vote them out! I don’t care which party you vote for as long as it’s one that wants to change the government.

      New Zealand needs nothing less. Time to make a stand.

      ‘The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing’

    • Brendon Harre 24.3

      Justice will only be found if the Court of Public Opinion can be sufficiently engaged to make this an election issue. Post election if National wins you can guarantee that Key will say the majority support what he has always said. Dirty Politics is all a left wing conspiracy…… Some trumped up investigation using handpicked players like the above will guarantee Key and National come out smelling like roses. Key and National will then use ‘conspiracy’ to purge all opposition in a NZ version of McCarthyism.

      What we need in NZ politics is an independent referee type institution, something like this.

      Parliament enacts a law that requires the Speaker of the House be appointed by unanimous vote (Like the Catholic Bishops voting for the Pope, MPs could be locked in Parliament without recess until they decide).

      Give the responsibility to appoint senior civil servants, judges, ombudsman, process OIA and recommendations for knighthood to the Speaker. Instantly this changes the culture of civil society.

    • yeshe 24.4

      Thx Blip … brilliant post, as always.

      So this:

      ‘Remember, the sole reason given as to why the briefing notes were declassified is that the material was already in the public arena and the only reason the material was in the public arena was because John Key had put it there. That, my friend, is called a “set up”.’

      Is this not Key breaking the law making public an SIS matter ?

      • BLiP 24.4.1

        Dunno, looks like it though. Its no secret that the Opposition receives SIS briefings but the content of those briefings is secret. By stating that Goff was briefed about the Israeli spies “tourists” John Key talked about specific content. John Key also dragged the SIS into what was a political spat.

        Mind you, Phil Goff did not help the situation by denying that he had been briefed, unless, although unlikely, he really wasn’t briefed and the SIS is lying. By making his denial, Phil Goff called into question the functioning of the SIS in its role of keeping the Opposition broadly up to date with what’s going on. It is that aspect which delivered Warren Tucker the additional justification of “public interest” because Tucker was very keen to maintain a positive image of the SIS as doing its job by the book. It may have been that Warren Tucker was feeling personally aggrieved by Goff’s suggestion that he did not do his job properly.

        Personally, I don’t believe Tucker did do his job or, at least, the “briefing” wasn’t really a briefing. Phil Goff says he was not allowed to have anyone with him during the briefing, he could not keep any documents, and nor could he take any notes. If mention about Mossad activities the Israel “tourists” was one of, say, thirty items and was skated over real quick, its hardly surprising he might have forgotten about it. The correct manner for Warren Tucker to behave in that situation, IMHO, is for him to quietly tap Phil Goff on the shoulder and remind him about the briefing and, thus, allowing Goff the opportunity to gracefully back down. Instead, Warren Tucker colluded with or was forced to go along with John Key’s Dirty Ops Department “hit”.

        • Anne 24.4.1.1

          Up until this point, I gave Dr. Warren Tucker the benefit of the doubt. That is, there was a genuine ‘misunderstanding’ between himself and Phil Goff and that it unfortunately developed into a public spat between the two of them. However since Tucker came out and backed John Key the other day, I have concluded he probably colluded with Key – or his office 🙄 – because he was still smarting over Goff challenging him about the content of the briefing. Had he remained silent, then that would have been tantamount to an admission he was indeed “forced to go along with the Dirty Ops Department”.

          I should imagine Intelligence chiefs don’t like being called to account.

          • karol 24.4.1.1.1

            And Winston Peters has something to add to this… sort of. Peters (step around all the homophobia, etc from NZ First as reported in this article) talked about his experiences with Tucker.

            Earlier, Mr Peters said his party wanted a full inquiry into the allegations contained in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics.

            He repeated his earlier hint that former SIS Director Warren Tucker – who has backed Prime Minister John Key’s version of events on an OIA briefing – was unreliable.

            “As I said on [TVNZ show] Q+A this morning, ‘Mr Tucker, I know you, because we had a run-in ourselves when I was Deputy Prime Minister.

            “And you are not going to get away with that now’…if anybody understands how important words or language is, it’s someone in security.”

            Mr Peters would not elaborate when asked by the Herald for further details of the “run-in”.

            Of course, it could just be Peters’ being a bit attention-seeking.

            .

            • tricledrown 24.4.1.1.1.1

              Karol its all about timing Winston will have a couple of juicy titbits’ the whiley old politicians politician!
              Whaleoil’s attempted blackmailing of Peters was a huge mistake cause if anyone knows the dirt its Winston!
              So watch this space when the :?#% hits the fan ?
              Their will be more than slippery Slaters hiding under rock’s

    • r0b 24.5

      Interesting. Great work BLiP as ever. I might do a re-release of this post on Monday, adding what you have written here.

      • BLiP 24.5.1

        @r0b

        I would be honoured to have some material I have written included in a post by you.

        I suggest that you temper my categorical statement that it was Crown Law the SIS went to for its legal advice. Since making my comment, its been pointed out to me that its entirely possible John Key was lying in order to explain the time frame or Warren Tucker could have gone to the SIS in-house legal team. My suspicion of Crown Law involvement comes from the idea that the SIS would want to be squeaky clean and the stated functions of Crown Law.

    • Kiwiri 24.6

      Worthy of a place in The Guardian.

    • Chrissy 24.7

      So, for simplicity’s sake, and because this story is so complex it’s gonna be hard to convey, if there’s an MO here, a pattern, that would include Goff and Cunliffe incidents, it would seen to have these elements.

      weeks out from an election, a staged slur attack on the opposition leader, in which his credibility is held up for question through him saying one thing where the evidence (was he briefed, did he help Liu) can be made to look otherwise.

      the attack comes via a blogger, somewhat arms’ length, who gets a very specific tip off and expedited OIA from the minister concerned; via the PM’s office

      the minister has privileged access to info / files; but to be seen to be using that access to attack the opposition leader directly would be to be accused of dirty politics. There’s the need, as above, for plausible deniability.

      it gets launched while the PM is out of the country: further distancing clean and robust Brand Key from the dirt being thrown. : I was on holiday, it wasnt me, it was my office, I dont remember, etc.

      what am I missing here? what are the core simple elements of this story the MSM etc might be able to grasp?

      • BLiP 24.7.1

        . . . what are the core simple elements of this story the MSM etc might be able to grasp?

        Don’t for a minute think that the MSM does not grasp the situation. The problem is that too much sunlight will expose the MSM’s own direct involvement in the practise of dirty politics. There are too many media reputations and the illusion of Fourth Estate impartiality to protect for any real analysis of the situation to come from the MSM. Radio New Zealand’s Mediawatch takes a quick look at this in today’s show: http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/20146877

        Long live the Fifth Estate.

  25. All true, but I have bad news for all of us.

    Key has been fully trained in facing situations like this. His experiences in the USA will leave him very prepared to have been responsible for just about anything, yet continue to deny it so long as nobody has the power to force him. And who does? Would someone take this to the Governor General?

    Bush got away with the devastation of the Iraq war. Reagan got away with the Contra arms deal. Key is probably going to get away with this, and based on the average voter’s interest, memory and understanding, we will be lucky if he doesn’t get reelected.

  26. disturbed 26

    Jessica Parsons said,
    “We will be lucky if he doesn’t get re elected.”

    All because of the notion that “this goes on all the time nowday’s” and the lack of a free press.

    Looks a lot like 1933 Goebbels/Hitler again as I have said countless times, do we want to go there?

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/goebbels.html

    Joseph Goebbels was rewarded on 13 March 1933 by Adolf Hitler with the position of Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, which gave him total control of the communications media – i.e. radio, press, publishing, cinema and the other arts.

  27. Brendon Harre 27

    Another thought on this issue is that the Goff, SIS, PM Office, Whaleoil political attack system was in its infancy. National hadn’t perfected the system. They left evidence, linking all pieces of the chain. How often since have they done the same but they were better at hiding their tracks?

    If National get back into power they will recreate the system -probably not with Whaleoil or even with bloggers. But you can guarantee now they have a taste for abusing the power of executive to achieve their political goals through fear and intimidation it will not stop.

  28. MrSmith 28

    I just read this on a Herald tread.

    “John Key the Lance armstrong of New Zealand politics”

    Oh shit the rugby bye.

    • Brendon Harre 28.1

      I know what you mean I rushed my comments so I could watch the game. Now that we (ABs) won convincingly I can relax and read up on these issues……

  29. BLiP 29

    Ooops.

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