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Whistleblowers and services to journalism

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, June 10th, 2013 - 56 comments
Categories: internet, john key, news, same old national, slippery, spin, Spying, telecommunications, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, us politics - Tags: , , , ,

Two whistleblowers leakers are in the news right now, both focused on the US-led surveillance society, operating in the interests of corporate power.  One is a true whistleblower, the other has created as much confusion as enlightenment. And today they are brought into focus by some journalists who have done a major service over time.

Kim Hill took it to John Key this morning on RNZ’s Morning Report,


She didn’t let him get away with his vague prevarications.  For instance, following through the logic of him claiming he couldn’t pursue the revealing of the Dunne emails because they weren’t in the terms of reference of the inquiry.

But who set the terms of reference, Mr Key?  Well I did.  So wasn’t that a bit stupid, Mr Key?

And, towards the end of the interview, Hill persists with questioning Key over his use of “Dunne’s lapse in judgement”, non-explanation for him losing Key’s trust.

This issue is related to the role of the Kitteridge Report on the role of the GCSB, launched in the wake of the Kim Dotcom saga.  While Dunne can be classed as a whistleblower, he hardly has performed a service for the 98% in leaking something that was due to become public anyway.  And Dunne also supported the extension of GCSB powers to legally spy on Kiwis.

So Dunne is as much diversionary foot-soldier for the expansion of authoritarian powers as helping to expose the machinations of the plutocracy, and political maneuverings of politicians, as outlined by today’s Standard guest post, and micky savage on his blog.

Kim Hill, on the other hand, exposes the fog of spin that John Key uses to mask his government’s increasing anti-democratic procedures.

Today in the Guardian the whistle-blower, who exposed the US NSA Prism surveillance system, is revealed as Edward Snowden.  As recounted by Tyler Durden (h/t Colonial Viper),

he is Edward Snowden, 29 years old. Originally from Elizabeth City, NC, a Maryland community college dropout and former Special Forces trainee, the 10 year “veteran” with the NSA, most recently in its Hawaii office under the employ of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, has just made history and joined the pantheon of such legendary whistleblowers of the US government’ secret activities as the Pentagon Papers’ Daniel Ellsberg and Wikileaks’ Bradley Manning. Last but not least, Edward is currently residing in Hong Kong, out of harm’s (read America’s) way.

In the Guardian article by Glenn Greenwald, it is revealed that Snowden always intended to make is identity known, but also did not want his identity to get more attention than the information he revealed. Snowden takes extraordinary (almost tinfoil hat) measures to avoid surveillance, knowing the powers that the US systems wield:

He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.

Though that may sound like paranoia to some, Snowden has good reason for such fears. He worked in the US intelligence world for almost a decade. He knows that the biggest and most secretive surveillance organisation in America, the NSA, along with the most powerful government on the planet, is looking for him….

And he knows only too well the sophisticated technology available to them and how easy it will be for them to find him. The NSA police and other law enforcement officers have twice visited his home in Hawaii and already contacted his girlfriend, though he believes that may have been prompted by his absence from work, and not because of suspicions of any connection to the leaks.

“All my options are bad,” he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed and bundled into a plane bound for US territory.

“Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners. They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or assets,” he said.

This article by Glenn Greenwald is the latest in a series resulting from the journalist spending a lot of investigative time with and around Snowden in order to bring the NSA whistle-blown story to the public.  Snowden began working for the US government’s NSA believing he was doing something good, but then found otherwise:

He described as formative an incident in which he claimed CIA operatives were attempting to recruit a Swiss banker to obtain secret banking information. Snowden said they achieved this by purposely getting the banker drunk and encouraging him to drive home in his car. When the banker was arrested for drunk driving, the undercover agent seeking to befriend him offered to help, and a bond was formed that led to successful recruitment.

“Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world,” he says. “I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.”

Once a believer in the liberating potential of the Internet, Snowden increasingly came to see the surveillance systems used by the US government as too powerful, all-encompassing and threatening to the existence of democracy..

Glenn Greenwald and Kim hill, take a bow for services to the fourth estate.

In contrast to the Dunne-Key-GCSB fog of spin, Snowden shows the true meaning of whistle-blower.  And lets not forget that the GCSB is plugged in to the same surveillance systems as those used by the US government agencies.




56 comments on “Whistleblowers and services to journalism”

  1. Lightly 1

    Dunne is no whistleblower – he himself hasn’t claimed that title and, as you point out, he supports the broader powers to the GCSB.

    Snowdon is a true whistleblower – revealing an abuse of state power that otherwise would never have come to light and owning it

    • karol 1.1

      Yes, you are right, Lightly. Dunne is merely a leaker, while Snowden is the true whistleblower. I have amended the post accordingly.

  2. Poission 2

    Now that the NSA is the worlds biggest owner of porn,can we prosecute them?

  3. Andre 3

    Now justice needs to prevail. Dunne has breached the trust of the people that he represents .GCSB is our state intelligence dept . He is on the committee as a cross party control for a democratic oversight.He has breached our trust . Treason is a big word but …………

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      It’s not treason, ffs.

      • Andre 3.1.1

        Leaking information And the possible effect of a snap election on the country has not a detrimental effect on NZ ?

        • Pascal's bookie

          he leaked informatioj it seems. but that’s not Treason. And even if it did lead to a snap election (which it won’t), it still would not be treason.

          New Zealand has treason laws that are stipulated under the Crimes Act 1961. Section 73 of the Crimes Act reads as follows:

          “Every one owing allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen in right of New Zealand commits treason who, within or outside New Zealand,—
          (a) Kills or wounds or does grievous bodily harm to Her Majesty the Queen, or imprisons or restrains her; or
          (b) Levies war against New Zealand; or
          (c) Assists an enemy at war with New Zealand, or any armed forces against which New Zealand forces are engaged in hostilities, whether or not a state of war exists between New Zealand and any other country; or
          (d) Incites or assists any person with force to invade New Zealand; or
          (e) Uses force for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of New Zealand; or
          (f) Conspires with any person to do anything mentioned in this section.”[19]
          The penalty is life imprisonment, except for conspiracy, for which the maximum sentence is 14 years imprisonment. Treason was the last capital crime in New Zealand law, with the death penalty not being revoked until 1989, years after it was abolished for murder.


          It’s not a word that should be lightly thrown around. Why not just say ‘OMG IT’S MURDER!’. Makes about as much sense.

        • Colonial Viper

          Still not treason – the bar is far higher for treason.

          Selling out our nation’s strategic economic infrastructure to foreigners, now that’s treason.

          • Pascal's bookie

            No it isn’t.

            • Colonial Viper

              Well, in a wider sense than the statute, yes it is 🙂

              A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within

  4. Martin Legge 4

    When I blew the whistle on the pokie industry in 2010 it was Peter Dunne’s contact with the DIA that sufficiently influenced Nathan Guy and DIA to ignore, suppress and even lose doumentary evidence that I provided should have stopped the pokie trust (TTCF) in its tracks. The suggestion that Dunne is some sort of whistleblower is obscene !!!

    • karol 4.1

      Interesting, Martin. You are providing support to the idea that Dunne is a serial offender in leaking and diverting, according to what suits Dunne’s agenda, rather than the interests of the public.

      And I have amended my post to highlight the fact that Dunne is merely a leaker, while Snowden is a whistleblower-actual.

    • ghostrider888 4.2

      ahhh, followed your course in the press; you give the police a good name.

    • First Time Caller 4.3

      Yeah, back the others on this – you certainly are a legend around that. Just a pity what the DIA didn’t do – the whole thing stank to high heaven.

  5. I am perplexed by references to Peter Dunne as a whistle-blower. A whistle-blower by definition is a person with inside information who reveals it because not to do so would allow something the whistle-blower finds unconscionable or morally repugnant to continue. In other words a whistle-blower is a self-appointed referee applying the “rules of the game” where he or she finds the rules being infringed.

    There is not the slightest suggestion that PD finds the government’s legislative programme repugnant or that he does not/did not wholeheartedly support the retrospective legislation validating the illegal activities of GCSB. Had his motivation been moral repugnance I would have applauded the man as one standing up and proclaiming enough of this ordure!

    But, no. Far from being some sort of Saul on the Road to Damascus, Peter Dunne is genuinely puzzled about his own motivation, he has seen no light; he has not acted out of a sense moral or ethical urgency. He has no idea. He has blown no whistle, he has merely farted at the dinner table

    • ghostrider888 5.1

      while playing footsies (or maybe, a little up-skirt peek).

    • xtasy 5.2

      James N: I must agree, Dunne is rather only a technical, reluctant “whistle-blower, if that.

      He appears to rather have been driven by remaining hormonal rushes affecting his thinking and judgment, perhaps trying to “impress” somebody who led to some visual or other arousal, setting off the hormones. He will know more about it, so it is a bit of speculation, but possibly a better explanation for his actions.

      Dunne was certainly not acting for the cause of exposing some evil or wrong, as it would otherwise have been exposed in the relevant report anyway.

      But the US American chap who worked for the NSA, he surely is a whistle-blower and has taken a big risk for himself to reveal what he did.

      • Colonial Viper 5.2.1

        The US seems to be having trouble with all these young idealistic Americans who believed in the stuff they were told about doing good in the world, enhancing freedom and protecting the constitution.

  6. ianmac 6

    What odds are there that Mr Key will ever risk being interviewed by Kim Hill again, ever?
    Remember Kim is there for only two weeks and this is the 2nd week.

    • Shona 6.1

      Bummer eh? Morning Report has been radio wallpaper for soooo long .

    • Macro 6.2

      “Remember Kim is there for only two weeks and this is the 2nd week.”

      I’m really sorry to hear that. Its popcorn normally.

    • SpaceMonkey 6.3

      It was radio gold listening to Kim Hill interview John Key, knowing that it is unlikely ever to happen again. She didn’t accept his patsy answers, going deeper into detail, and ignored his attempt to fall back with a “Labour did it too”-type answer. Loved the “well that was a bit stupid”!!!

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.

    Though that may sound like paranoia to some, Snowden has good reason for such fears.

    “Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners. They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or assets,” he said.

    The line between “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy fact” is much more blurry than some might choose to believe.

    With regard to all pervasive intelligence and spying powers, I do believe that “smaller government” is probably better for the proper function of democracy and an appripriate balance of power between the citizens and the state. Rather than the all invasive, no holds barred (and basically totalitarian) direction things seem to be heading.

    • ghostrider888 7.1

      what democracy? stay focused man. 😀

    • prism 7.2

      Could be that smaller countries could be better. The United States of America and Russia also, are unwieldy and the USA appears to be having a political civil war making it ungovernable.

      Did anyone used to play statues at school? Everyone freezes and the game controller walks around looking for movement and if spotted, the mover has to leave the game. Don’t know if it could work quite like that in the USA. Politicians there would rather turn to stone than move and be like normal people.

  8. vto 8

    How can we know Snowden can be believed?

    Surely the chances of him being put up for this are as equal as the chances he is a true whistleblower…..

    or not? and why?

    best not believe anything and go fishing …… only to return and find the jackboots have overrun the place.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      How can we know Snowden can be believed?

      Because Obama and co. have implicitly or explicitly agreed that the leaked info is accurate, that the Prism system is operational and does what has been described, and have started a criminal investigation into the unauthorised release of classified information.

      BTW it looks like major consulting firm Booz Allen who was Snowden’s employer (looks like he and they were a contractor to the NSA) has already declared that Snowden has committed a “grave ethical violation” in whistleblowing.

  9. Winston Smith 9

    Will you still being saying the same thing when Kim Hill subjects Shearer or Norman to the same…

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Although Key is, Shearer and Norman aren’t party to the Dunne/SIS mess.

    • weka 9.2

      “Will you still being saying the same thing when Kim Hill subjects Shearer or Norman to the same…”

      If Norman ever becomes a sleazy, lying, arrogant, sell the country for whatever I can get for my pay masters, politician, then I hope KH savages him. As it is, I expect Norman to be able to hold his own quite well with her, given that (a) he still has his integrity reasonably intact and (b) he’s not trying to shaft anyone and is more inclined to be open and honest (to the extent a politician can) and is thus unlikely to get mired in his own lies, and (c) is intelligent and well informed.

      • grumpy 9.2.1

        ….or Shearer cant explain his over $1mill in offshore bank accounts……or Norman wont come clean about his commie past – what then?

        • gobsmacked

          Winston S and Grumpy are sadly lost. They must have bought their moral compass at the two dollar shop.

          It says everything about your mindset that you can only say “Wah wah – the other side!”. Well, I hope Kim Hill – and every other interviewer – holds all our elected representatives to account, including Norman, Shearer and the rest. Why would you want anything less?

          Do you think the public are better served by vacuous puff-pieces? Do you want to be “informed” by cuddles on a Breakfast TV couch? Do you want a democracy or a royal court?

  10. xtasy 10

    ““Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world,” he says.”

    As quoted from Karol’s interesting story above, this may well be what not only Edward Snowden as an experienced insider in state intelligence services of the US would say, but many New Zealanders who are likely to have been spied on.

    Of course most of us would not think GCSB or SIS would be too bothered with critical posters on social media, but is it not so, that some long serving MPs of accepted, mainstream and left of centre parties had been spied on by the SIS?

    I think the truth of what has been, and still is going on, over many years, would shock many. But of course we are very unlikely to ever learn much about this.

    What got me very concerned and seriously questioning what state agencies are up to was the fact, that on a day of action against welfare cuts and draconian benefit reforms in early October last year, one such protest was filmed very attentively and intensely by a female police officer in Henderson from before the start to the very end!

    And they appeared to have no reason for this. Such things are stuff one would suspect to happen in Mainland China, in some other dictatorships and in former East European countries. Yet it happened right here in New Zealand, at a totally peaceful, non violent protest, openly in broad daylight.

    I have also heard of infiltration of leftist and activist groups, that is supposed to have happened. What next?

    As for Snowden, I would not necessarily feel any better off in a place like Hong Kong, as Mainland China has an easy reach there, and they are certainly no better than US secret agencies.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      I have also heard of infiltration of leftist and activist groups, that is supposed to have happened. What next?

      IIRC in both the UK and in NZ undercover police infiltrated environmental activist groups. Including under taking activism and protest themselves – and sleeping with women in the groups to get “intelligence”.

  11. ghostrider888 11

    YOUR smart-phone is watching YOU
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/douthat-your-smartphone-is-watching-you.html?_r=0 “soft despotism”; not so smart.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      If you ever wanted to bug your ex-spouse’s car or bedroom, you would need to buy a device which had both a microphone and a transmitter built into it i.e. a “bug”. If the bug was going to be in their car, it would be more useful if it could also report it’s location i.e. a “tracking device”.

      The beautiful thing about a GPS enabled smart phone is that people voluntarily carry the device with them at all times, you can tell their exact location within 10m (if they are outdoors), and by turning the microphone on, their smartphone instantly becomes a transmitting microphone too: a “bug”.

      There’s no particular reason why the smartphone’s microphone could not be turned on even when you have turned the smart phone “off” as long as the battery had not been removed.

  12. Bill 12

    I’m looking forward with interest to how, both the msm and some of the left react to Snowdon in the coming weeks – bearing in mind the enthusiam they exhibited and continue to exhibit over the metaphorical burying of Assange.

    I guess the msm will be fairly predictable as they always, in the end, side with power. (Consider the coverage they gave to the allegations of rape levelled at Assange in comparison to the coverage they generated over the ex-head of the IMF Struass-Kahn – the former villified and the latter exonerated…the accusers in the former case taken at their word and the accuser in the latter ‘crucified’.

    Of the baying pack that sits on the left…? We’ll see.

    Mind you, the whole thing could just be buried ‘quicksmart’, thereby denying anybody interested in levels of consistency any ‘entertainment’.

  13. ghostrider888 13

    Gower, the Tory Shill, on 3; “Labour’s motive not holier-than-thou (interest in security), but to ruin Peter Dunne for good and embarrass John Key further.” (if that were possible).

    Paul Brislen; “likely there has been reciprocal spying (between Echelon partners)” to get around not spying on own citizens.
    Key; “no reciprocal spying has occurred”.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      Key; “no reciprocal spying has occurred”.

      If that were true it means we are in a pretty lame do-nothing bunch of spooks…which I doubt is the case.

    • karol 13.2

      Actually, I thought Key just side-stepped the question

      Prime Minister John Key won’t rule out whether New Zealanders are being spied on by the agency or whether any of that information was passed on to our spies.
      Videos, emails, photos, audio, stored data, social networking details – PRISM collects it all.
      But Mr Key won’t let on whether New Zealanders’ information is being collected.

      “I’m not going [into that] or what techniques are used for that,” he says.

      He said there were “isolated” examples of working with other countries’ agencies, “but there’s no wholesale reciprocal work going on.”

  14. karol 14

    Talking about Andrea Vance’s role in the emails, the chief executive editor of Fairfax, claims to be part of the “fourth estate”, albeit in a skewed way, referring to himself/his organisation in the 3rd person:

    Fairfax Group executive editor Paul Thompson said Fairfax was “absolutely” backing Vance.

    ‘‘Realistically you as members of the fourth estate will need to think about whether you want that committee to sub poena that information and therefore be delving into your communications both by phone, by text and by email with members of Parliament.’’

    Is this false advertising? Although some journalists may be trying to fulfill a fourth estate role, I don’t hold out the same optimism for the chief editor of Fairfax.

  15. fabregas4 15

    I heard Hill and Key and moved to the bathroom where my radio is on Radio Live. Key, late for his normal Monday morning chat with Lush because he had been being mauled by Hill had this to answer first up “Well Prime Minister what did you like the best, the Rugby or the League?” Normal Service resumed.

  16. RedLogix 16

    Maybe we’ll have to stop using the internet and go back to actually talking to each other….

  17. tracey 17

    Geoff robinson should hang his head in shame.

    the pm wld not breach security if he gave an assurance that no nzers were under secret survellience.

    his dalziel and field comments were interesting in light of his non treatment of banks and worth. Someone needs to go back over keys righteous indignation over the own glen affair and his promise to have higher standards than labour. To be utterly transparent… and… I recall him telling paul henry he would even answer questions he wasnt asked. Start quoting that back at him.

  18. tracey 18

    Didnt dunne tell peters to put up or shut up last week? The pm might want to ruminate on his use of the same words.

    notice how he played on self interest to get the media on side to suppress the emails. Speaks volumes about his ethics that he assumes others will put themselves ahead of public interest.

    finally, dunne gets a week paid leave to sort a mess entirely of his own making?

    I feel sorry for his wife.

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