No Right Turn on SIS

August 5th, 2011 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant by his own words hates the and hate Whale Oil. So when he concludes the SIS have acted entirely appropriately, it is worth quoting:

There’s a lot of shit going round the blogosphere this morning about the SIS’s release of a document which made look bad to a sewerblogger “in preference” to the media. … But it turns out that its nothing of the sort, and there is a very good reason for the difference in timeframes. From Stuff today:

Mr Slater was given the documents five working days after he made the request. Fairfax Media, who made a similar request, received the document last night along with a letter from Dr Tucker which said: “Your request differs from Mr Slater’s in that you have also requested reports prepared for the prime minister”.

Which seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation.

If you want to see some hysterical rants, check out John Pagani who has blogged six times in a row on the same issue, each time claiming the SIS have committed treason, by obeying the Official Information Act. How desperate can you get to distract people from the substantive issue, that Goff lied.

blogs:

I find it difficult to believe he is not lying about the meeting with SIS Director on Monday 14 March.  If he is not lying then his memory faculties and/or his ability to multitask must be seriously in doubt. …

Mr Goff would have it that these documents are fakes.  Mr Tucker wrote things down, and prepared agendas and minutes, that were untrue. He then gave these false documents to the Prime Minister’s Office and to Whaleoil in order to discredit Mr Goff. 

This is an extraordinary allegation for Mr Goff to be making, even implicitly.  How credible is it that Mr Tucker would behave that way?  My intelligence sources tell me he has always been the ultimate straight-shooter and has done more than any of his predecessors to bring openness and transparency to the intelligence community.  Any personal political views he may have are, I’m told, completely unreadable and, as outlined above, he has maintained the confidence of every New Zealand prime minister from Muldoon, to Lange, to Bolger, to Clark to Key. It is impossible to believe he has now risked his reputation to take a cheap shot at Mr Goff, who he served loyally when he was Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and Trade Minister through the 2000s.

Isn’t it far more likely that Mr Goff, having previously said the matter had not even been mentioned to him at all, has been caught lying and is now forced, Nixon-like, to maintain the lie – even if it requires implicitly attacking Mr Tucker’s integrity to the extent of suggesting he has behaved illegally?

The sad thing for Goff is this is totally self-inflicted. It was of little political consequence whether or not he had been briefed or not. But because Goff was so stupid as to attack the SIS, rather than check with them, he has now been forced into a position when he is seen as dishonest rather than merely forgetful.

Idiot/Savant again notes:

As for the actual issue, Ministers and MPs receive a lot of information, and I would not be surprised at all if they forgot something mentioned in passing. And I’d expect them to be aware of that problem, rather than arrogantly assuming they have total recall of every document which has ever passed their desk

Unless you believe the paranoid conspiracy theory that the SIS has fabricated the briefing notes from March, it is obvious that Goff was briefed, and at a minimum had a quick read of the report.

He was distracted by the Darren Hughes scandal, and it is not a big thing that he doesn’t recall the briefing. but his arrogance is proving his downfall. In a measure of his credibility vs Warren Tucker, he doesn’t come out of it at all well.

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73 Responses to “No Right Turn on SIS”

  1. Paulus (2,291 comments) says:

    Why can’t Goff just stop digging deeper and say

    “I do not recollect the conversation, but accept it took place – it is possible my mind was on more important things at the time”.

    Not the stupid “balls up” he has made of it and particularly himself.

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  2. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    > How desperate can you get to distract people from the substantive issue, that Goff lied.

    Well, you’d like to think that is the substantive issue and you’d like to think Goff lied. The trouble is you don’t provide any evidence of either.

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  3. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    Oh and David, what did Matthew Hooten say about the PM’s lies re GST, Kiwisaver and the BMW limos? No doubt he was just as outraged as he appears to be over this issue?

    [DPF: You really are struggling. The BMW issue is a great contrast. Key admits he saw a paper on them, but says it didn't register with him, and admits he stuffed up as he would have stopped them if it had registered. This is the total opposite of Goff who is insisting he never saw a paper.

    This is why Key is at 55% and Goff at 7%. Key admits his mistakes. Goff blames everyone else]

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  4. Johnboy (13,335 comments) says:

    A song for Phil:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUTXb-ga1fo

    :)

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  5. Pete George (21,796 comments) says:

    Unless you believe the paranoid conspiracy theory that the SIS has fabricated the briefing notes from March

    No no no no, you are avoiding the real conspiracy theory that Key is behind it all. He has orchestrated all of this all the way along, and he knew that Goff would not rebuff it by saying he might have just forgotten something that had already been dealt with.

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  6. david (2,482 comments) says:

    Posted also at Standard in response to hysterical claims of “release on the same day as OIA request”, Tucker is compromised and much smokescreening in general.

    “Tucker has been round the block more than a few times and is definitely no idiot.
    I guarantee that the briefing file was pulled the same day that the media blew the Israeli thing up. Two reasons – One to see if there is any connection between the material discussed with LOP and the story in the MSM. Now there is a thought about the source of the leak but I digress. The second reason is that Tucker would know with certainty that he would receive a flood of OIA requests for release.

    That certainty became absolute with Phil Goff’s adamant denials and implied accusations that Tucker &/or Key were lying. (If one wasn’t, the other must have according to Phil ‘cos you can’t read it any other way.)

    The other point to note is that as a senior Public Servant, Tucker cannot respond in the form of a public debate with the pollies, his only defence is to fall back on the systems that are in place. The only system he had available to him (apart from a black-op wet job … hasn’t happened ‘cos Phil, while he might be the walking dead hasn’t stepped off the twig as yet) was the material released under the OIA. As he is bound to do, Tucker has released to each requester exactly what has been asked for with the redactions logically imposed for reasons of security, no more and no less.

    Now put yourself in Mr Tucker’s shoes. If you can’t defend yourself directly in public, you will make bloody sure that no other polly will dare to challenge your integrity or honesty in public again or they know they will get done like a dinner.

    Now back to the source of the media leak. Is Phil defending his ignorance so vigorously to ensure he doesn’t get fingered as the leaker of security info? or is he protecting the campaign strategy committee with whom he discussed this confidential briefing?

    Aaaah so many questions ….. so few answers.”

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  7. mickrodge (27 comments) says:

    This whole episode is a glaring example of the Grand Canyon sized gulf in political nous between Phil Goff and his predecessor Helen Clark.

    Love her or hate she would have killed this dead (read sent a scapegoat to take the bullet) in the water long ago rather than leave it festering like an unlanced boil waiting to erupt.

    Phil has no such luxury (certainly being PM doesn’t help). He doesn’t have any support within the party (whose silence has been deafening) on this or indeed any other issue. He doesn’t have a “H2″ to make it go away. He doesn’t have Police HQ in his pocket nor clearly does he have the SIS.

    Simply put Phil is being hung out to dry here & it’s all of his own making. No dye job or cowboy walk can save him now.

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  8. queenstfarmer (696 comments) says:

    glaring example of the Grand Canyon sized gulf in political nous between Phil Goff and his predecessor Helen Clark.

    My thoughts exactly. I just can’t understand what has happened to Phil since he became LOP. He was quite a good minister, and is obviously smart, committed, personable, etc. But since he’s become leader he’s flailing around all over the place.

    I wonder who on earth wrote that press release for him, attacking the SIS Director?

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  9. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    ross
    It’s touching to see your brave attempts to defend Goff on this one. He is a decent bloke and was a competent Minister, but on this he has made a complete fool of himself.

    On the other thread you resorted to claiming that Tucker should release handwritten notes of the meeting. Tucker has released everything that he needs to. There are probably no handwritten notes. From what has been released we can deduce that it was not a long, detailed discussion. Tucker would have no need to take notes.

    Goff should swallow the bad medicine on this one, apologise and confirm that he has confidence in Tucker. How else could this be resolved?

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  10. alwyn (359 comments) says:

    Johnboy @ 2.48pm.
    It’s not only appropriate lyrics fo Phil but it’s even the kind of haircut he had in his younger days.
    I presume he was a student when he was photographed with hair down to his shoulders.
    Pity he hasn’t got any smarter since then.

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  11. Brian Smaller (3,915 comments) says:

    Goff is a liar. How this man can even pretend at credibility now is beyond me. People who actually believe him must be dyed in the wool Labourites willing to overlook any lack of ethical behaviour.

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  12. RightNow (6,336 comments) says:

    In my opinion we’ve reached the point of no return. The statements by Goff amount to accusing Tucker of lying.
    There are only two possible reasons Goff has continued to push this:
    1) Goff is a complete dick
    2) Goff thinks he has something he can use to bring down Key and Tucker is only the conduit.

    I accept the two positions are not mutually exclusive, 1) is really a given. If I give Goff any credibility though then I can’t discount 2) – even if whatever Goff thinks he has turns out to backfire on him. There could well be more twists to come in this saga. I fully expect a few major political ‘incidents’ prior to the election, and time is running out.

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  13. david (2,482 comments) says:

    Rightnow
    But he has dug the hole so deep that even with the most powerful grenade, he can’t lob it over the lip and the pin is pulled. Nowhere to go it would seem.

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  14. Elaycee (4,058 comments) says:

    Of course, Phil Goff [as a member of the Josef Goebbels school of propaganda] would believe that, if he says the same thing over and over, then it will eventually be deemed to be fact.

    Wrong again, Phil. Totally wrong.

    Bye bye. :P

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  15. smttc (638 comments) says:

    RightNow is right. The damage is done and Goff has reached the point of no return. In my view, we reached that point yesterday when Goff issued press release as a pre-emptive strike to head off Whale Oil.

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  16. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    mikenmild

    Notes should’ve been taken. It is silly to say that Tucker would have had no need to take notes. Notes should be taken at every meeting. The Public Records Act 2005 requires that “full and accurate records” are created and kept by government agencies. This fiasco provides a good reason why. Is the SIS meeting its obligations under the Act?

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  17. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    Surely “ross” you should also point out the SIS works for Key and it is quite clear history’s greatest monster is using them to besmirtch Goff’s name for his personal gain.

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  18. smttc (638 comments) says:

    Keep it up ross. I am sure Phil thinks you are doing an admirable job.

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  19. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    ross

    Ha ha – the Public Records Act? Please do point me to the section requiring public servants to make notes of every meeting? Once you’ve done that, I’ll be off-line for few months writing up records of every meeting I’ve ever attended.

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  20. RightNow (6,336 comments) says:

    ross, we must push for a full investigation. While you and I probably expect different outcomes, I think we both would like to see this matter result in one or other (Tucker or Goff) leaving their positions.

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  21. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    RightNow

    I agree completely. There needs to be a resolution.

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  22. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    mikenmild

    I suggest you read the Act…you don’t seem to be aware of its existence which is curious if you’re a public servant.

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  23. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    RightNow,

    Well, an investigation would be helpful if it included why no notes were taken and why Goff didn’t see relevant documents, and whether such conduct is common during briefings by the SIS.

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  24. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    ross

    Thanks for that helpful suggestion. I did look up the Act:

    (1)Every public office and local authority must create and maintain full and accurate records of its affairs, in accordance with normal, prudent business practice, including the records of any matter that is contracted out to an independent contractor.

    (2) Every public office must maintain in an accessible form, so as to be able to be used for subsequent reference, all public records that are in its control, until their disposal is authorised by or under this Act or required by or under another Act.

    (3) Every local authority must maintain in an accessible form, so as to be able to be used for subsequent reference, all protected records that are in its control, until their disposal is authorised by or under this Act.

    I’m mightily relieved to find it confirms my opinion that Dr Tucker, me, or any other public servant is not required to minute every discussion or meeting. Phew, you had me scared for a minute!

    I may have said this before, but there is nothing unusual in a CE not taking notes of a meeting with a politician. Goff says he didn’t see the documents – his assertion is not a credible one.

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  25. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    Mike,

    I’m not sure where you’re coming from or whether you’re being obtuse but government departments, including CEOs, are required to create and maintain full records of their affairs. Why do you think meetings are excluded? Even text messages are covered under the Act. Tucker should’ve ensured that notes were taken of the briefing. The notes did not have to be taken by him.

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  26. jaba (2,068 comments) says:

    I will repeat yet again .. the Nats MUST have a plant inside Labour, and high up, who is doing a great job because the weekly, sometimes daily, bizarre comments coming from the Party are surreal.

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  27. RightNow (6,336 comments) says:

    ross, you’re now arguing about how many notes have to be taken to qualify as being in accordance with the act, when in fact merely the recording of the fact there was a meeting would be enough to satisfy the act.

    Have we seen Goff’s notes? Let’s OIA him and see if he is adhering to the act.

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  28. joe bloggs (126 comments) says:

    @ Queenstfarmer – 3:04pm – I wonder who on earth wrote that press release for him, attacking the SIS Director?

    My money’s on Cunliffe – he’s setting Phil up for the Red Army’s putsch on 27th of Nov.

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  29. niggly (779 comments) says:

    @ jaba :-)

    Here’s another thought (in a similar vein).

    We know that politicians are given “media training”, to ensure they are able to effectively get their message across to the masses, how to handle distractions and “crisis” etc. The upshot is that the media trainers train the politicians to stay “on message” and to not let out more information than is necessary etc.

    So folks, clearly we have Goff doing his utmost to “stay on message” in relation to the SIS issue – Goff is trying to be consistent that he was not briefed, that he does not recall that the SIS briefed him and so on.

    So folks, are Goff’s media advisors doing a good job? Are the media advisors doing a good job and Goff a poor job … or are the media advisors badly advising Goff?

    Remember Goff has been pretty much “on message” on this occassion (and when the Israeli issue was first raised a couple of weeks ago).

    So are we witnessing Goff, following his media advisor instructions to the letter (and striking trouble because he refuses to accept any wrong doing … and thus is on a programmed path to fly into the ground sooner rather than later)?

    Or is Goff not following his media advisor training to “tell the truth and admit he may have been wrong in his recollections”?

    Incidentally who are advising Goff? (Hopefully not inexperienced former media journalists like Mould and Fa’foi)!

    On a less serious note, maybe jaba is right and the “plant” are his media advisors and strategists :-)

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  30. Brian Smaller (3,915 comments) says:

    Goff lies worse than a kid does. It is written all over his face. Look at his eyes and the twitching of his mouth.

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  31. RF (1,126 comments) says:

    Goof should adopt the Alfred E Newman look. What Me Worry.

    He is even too thick for that ploy.

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  32. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Jaba “I will repeat yet again .. the Nats MUST have a plant inside Labour, and high up, who is doing a great job because the weekly, sometimes daily, bizarre comments coming from the Party are surreal.”

    By the looks of it, it’s Goff.

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  33. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    Goff the Manchurian Candidate!

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  34. Inventory2 (9,787 comments) says:

    I’m beginning to think that Ross must be either Phil Goff’s last loyal supporter Spud, or Phil Goff himself. But it can’t be Spud, because Ross’ posts don’t have smiley faces; Ross=Goff? You be the judge…

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  35. reid (15,505 comments) says:

    This is typical behaviour from Goff. It’s how he’s always reacted when he’s challenged. He obviously learned somewhere that a politician shouldn’t back down and he never has, on anything I can ever remember. What he doesn’t seem to understand is there’s a time for backing down and a time for not backing down even when you’re a politician and for him not to understand this is a profound indicator as to the intellectual qualities of the man inside – more like a bulldog than a poker player and ya woulda thought that years ago he wouda worked out the latter is better than the former, if you’re a politician.

    The only problem with him going, which he will I hope after this, is it brings Silent-T slithering into the picture. Crikey it just gets better, doesn’t it.

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  36. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    I2

    I think Ross is Mallard doing a little pay back for all of times Goff’s does his intellectual best posting as spud.

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  37. Inventory2 (9,787 comments) says:

    @ burt :-) :-) :-)

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  38. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    reid

    I think Goff’s engineering his political exit. He’s going to fizzle out badly in the election and this is his scape goat. He’ll do the classic lefty thing and blame somebody else for his incompetence. He’ll probably even believe himself that he would have had a chance if that nasty National party and the dishonest SIS hadn’t deliberately scuttled him once he’s spun that line in the media for a few weeks.

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  39. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    I believe Goff believes he’s right.. despite all the condemning evidence both written and said against him..
    and the bare fact that Whale Oil condemns mainly on speculation not fact… nah Goffs bullshit.
    Now on the other hand if John Key was in Goffs position and said it.. well then off course Warren Tucker would be lying.. because John Key has credibility.. that’s the difference.

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  40. reid (15,505 comments) says:

    burt, you could be right.

    So could you, RKB.

    Maybe Goff’s ego is battling with his alter-ego and during the Leaders Debates it’ll all go super-nova and Phil will ascend into his very own nirvana live on telly.

    Cooool….

    John Key has credibility

    Well kind of, but listening to RLW Politics Roundup on Checkpoint now and Key just called asset sales the “mixed ownership model” so…

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  41. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Burt .. I think you maybe right.. he’s certainly leaving himself open to a vote of no confidence.. If thats his plan he will have Labour and Labours next leader shitting themselves.. if he bales before this election.

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  42. Johnboy (13,335 comments) says:

    “Incidentally who are advising Goff? (Hopefully not inexperienced former media journalists like Mould and Fa’foi)!”

    To be sure to be sure it wouldn’t perhaps be an ancient, dumb, pot smoking, oirish idjet and his missus would it be to be sure to be sure? :)

    Oi luv de quizzes oi do to be sure!! :)

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  43. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    “Incidentally who are advising Goff?
    Mould because Mould sticks.. but that could be Fa’foi..

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  44. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    johnboy

    Fingers crossed it’s the same chump who decided the 2008 election should be about trust.

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  45. Johnboy (13,335 comments) says:

    To be sure to be sure burt! :)

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  46. RandySavage (195 comments) says:

    who cares.

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  47. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    I’m picking Goff will be required to do a lot more signing of pages and document registers in future briefings.

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  48. Johnboy (13,335 comments) says:

    He will definitely have to sign his pink slip after November. :)

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  49. reid (15,505 comments) says:

    I think Goff’s engineering his political exit.

    On thinking further tho burt, why would he do that. He’s worked all his life to reach the role he’s in. Sure the writing is on the wall and he has to see it. But if this was a disguised exit strategy it’s a really bad one, both in conception and in execution. He could have chosen a much more graceful, honourable way.

    If he did it on purpose how did he know the SIS would respond with alacrity when they normally as a matter of practice don’t respond at all. If this really was a calculation from start to finish it’s so Machiavellian as to make one wonder why, if he’s capable of this level in the first place, he’s sitting where he is and has been since he started the role.

    I just haven’t ever seen evidence of this ability in him in the past and frankly I don’t think he’s capable of it. Which leaves the conclusion it’s a complete mea culpa in public with no exit opportunity. And this guy thinks he’s capable of convincing most of us to elect him to lead the country?

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  50. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    reid

    I can’t argue with that. However I still wonder if Goff wants to be remembered as the guy who stood his ground against the head of the SIS and made his position untenable or the guy who lead Labour to their most savage election punishing ever.

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  51. kiwi in america (2,321 comments) says:

    This thing is really simple. Goff thought he saw an angle to seriously wound Key over the Israeli backpacker suspicions and spin off the Mossad NZ passport incident when he was Foreign Minister. Key’s initial “nothing to see here – move along” line which has usually worked when intelligence matters are handled by PMs, caused a mini media firestorm on the US trip and within 6 hours Key, ever the pragmatist, threw the no comment convention out the window and briefed the media on the SIS investigation into post earthquake behaviour of some of the Israelis. Goff perceived Key to be weak and vulnerable on this issue and thought he had an opening to twist the knife by saying he wasn’t briefed – adding fuel to the many conspiracy theories that swirled around this issue.

    Key recovered quickly and the media moved on when it was clear that nothing untoward had happened. However Goff’s assertion that he was not briefed perked a few ears up because it would be inconceivable that Goff would not be briefed given the potentially explosive nature of the initial assumptions. I’m sure some conspiracy theory bound minor SIS underling was the source of the leaks that led to the Tullett story in the Southland Times and Goff likely in his heart thought there was something there and banked on kiwi suspicion and that everyone in NZ shares the left’s hostilty to everything to do with Israel. Anyone who has worked in senior political circles would be aware of the statutory duties of the DG of the SIS AND of Turner’s long standing reputation for scrupulous impartiality and smelled a rat. One of these people happened to be Slater who I’m sure was briefed by a National party friend as to the protocols re SIS matters. Whaleoil of course needed no goading or encouragement to drive traffic to his blog and be the brief centre of political attention and so the OIA was sent in. It doesnt take rocket science to figure out why Tucker and his staff acted so quickly on the request – he seeing an obvious and legitimate avenue for revenge for Goff’s false assertions.

    Labour’s strategists would’ve been in flat panic mode and began the spin by objecting to the speed at which the SIS responded to an OIA request from a partisan blogger by pointing out the then failure of the SIS to respond to the Dom’s similar request. That OIA request was responded less than 24 hours later and the delay being merely the fact the Fairfax Newspapers asked for more than Cameron did. What was Goff to do? Labour has calculated that attack is the best form of defence hence Goff’s strongly worded press release backed up by a consistent message in his media comments since. Jessica Much from TVNZ could be counted on to give a softball non probing interview – ditto the political journos like Brent Edwards at Radio NZ who rarely push Goff. Goff only had to weather the gauntlet of Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB and in the eyes of Labour, they’ve gotten away with it. The issue will fall off the radar of the voting public and will become the preserve of the blogs like this where the finer details of Goff’s treachery will be debated.

    Labour’s strategy will result in a Phyrric victory because, whilst Goff is likely to emerge from this initial battle quite bruised but still standing, he was done irrepairable harm to the long standing political conventions of the dealings of the DG of the SIS. It seems clear that private one on one briefings of sensitive security matters, whilst noted and discussed documents annotated as to who they were shown to, a convention of no written notes covering the actual conversations seems to have prevailed. Those days have now come to an end. Tucker will not be blindsided ever again and so all briefigs will now be either recorded electronically or fully minuted. Goff thought he was on to a winner – his mistake was to again underestimate Key’s ability to apologise and admit stuff ups (a technique foreign to Clark and most Labour front benchers) and to assume the issue over the Israelis had more traction in the minds of middle NZ than it did. Goff’s centrist instincts that I saw to the fore in the days of the 4th Labour Government and whilst in Opposition under Moore, have been undermined by years of having to kowtow to the “gaggle of gays and unionists” as Damian O’Connor so eloquently put it. The feminist progressive left has total control of all layers of the Labour Party and their world view (eg on matters to do with Israel) has washed off on former pragmatists like Goff. John Pagani’s incessant blogging about the SIS and his theorising over political conspiracies by National to bring down Goff are evidence of the mindset that has taken hold amongst key Labour people and others on the left (I’m sure Nicky Hager fully concurs with Pagani).

    A wise old political hand I once worked with said of these incidents: “if its a choice between the conspiricay theory and the cock up theory – I go with the cock up theory pretty much every time”. Goff cocked up. Key knows it as do the sane thinkers left inside Labour. Key’s best case scenario is that Goff is wounded by not fatally so that he stays on as leader. An incident like this, whilst not yet arising to a full blown scandal, demoralises the troops, depresses the turnout, strengthens the Nats and Key’s positioning as able moderate savvy administrators and Labour drops another couple of points in the polls.

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  52. kiwi in america (2,321 comments) says:

    Sorry – some reason I called Tucker Turner a few times – my bad

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  53. Inventory2 (9,787 comments) says:

    Excellent analysis KIA; I blogged yesterday about the lack of caucus discipline within Labour, and this story seems symptomatic; your last sentence describes exactly how I see things within Labour at the moment.

    There is a leadership vacuum in Labour. That is evident in their performance in the House this week, culminating in Carmel Sepuloni’s disgraceful performance, and Mallard’s own behviour. FFS; Mallard is the shadow Leader of the House; supposedly the one who sets the standard for others to follow. A strong leader would have called Mallard in, and told him that his behaviour in the House on Wednesday and Thursday was unacceptable. But Labour does not have a strong leader, and especially one capable of uniting Labour’s many, varied and competing factions. That is a huge problem so close to the election, at which Labour faces annihilation.

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  54. RF (1,126 comments) says:

    Looking forward to another day of Labour’s Own Goals. What will they say next ?

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  55. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    > merely the recording of the fact there was a meeting would be enough to satisfy the act

    Under the PRA, govt agencies are required to create and retain “full and accurate records”. What part of that don’t you understand?

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  56. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    RF, what will John key say about what he told earthquake victims’ families? Nothing by the sound of it. Maybe he made promises to them that he can’t keep…

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  57. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    KIA,

    You say a “convention of no written notes covering the actual conversations seems to have prevailed.” Where is there such a convention? It doesn’t exist and as I’ve explained is inconsistent with the PRA. Besides, the briefing wasn’t one on one.

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  58. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    There remains a bit of a problem over this affair.

    I accept most of KIA’s analysis above, but like much of the comment here, it looks at this from the point of view of the political result. That result is undoubtedly very bad for Labour, and for Goff in particular.

    The problem is what needs to be done to restore Tucker’s position. It’s not enough to say that future breifings would need to be recorded or minuted in detail. The issue is one of confidence. There are very few officials that must be able to work on a basis of absolute trust and confidence with Ministers and opposition politicians. For the SIS, this is written into legislation through the requirement to brief both the PM and the Leader of the Opposition (don’t you love how that’s abbreviated to LOO!) and the statutory oversight of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.

    I can’t see how such a relationship can operate if one party says that he requires a witness at future briefings. The requirement is to brief the Leader of the Opposition, not anyone else. Also, my view is that note-taking or recording inevitably hampers the atmosphere of trust that is at the heart of such a relationship.

    Most seriously though, Tucker has had his reputation impugned publicly. That can’t go unanswered and be left hanging. Tucker is in an invidious position. He cannot comment in public. His Minister could defend him in strong terms, but thaty won’t resolve this impasse. He could resign in protest, which would allow a new Director to restore this relationship, but would inevitably be perceived by Goff as a vindication of his position.

    The onus, in my view, is on the Prime Minister to intervene. He should make it clear that the current position is unsustainable and ask the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (or another suitable person) to conduct a formal inquiry. The difficulty here is that Goff’s actions cannot be examined directly by any such enquiry. In my view though, a formal inquiry, which I think would clear Tucker completely, would provide the necessary formal mechanism to restore Tucker’s position.

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  59. niggly (779 comments) says:

    Awesome analysis there KIA – always good to read your view on the inner workings of political party’s (such as Labour in this instance).

    MM (re: Tucker’s position etc). The trouble is, Goff has done this before, i.e. thrown out convention eg releasing selective parts of “secret” (as in non OIA-able) notes made by MFAT of the Brash/US senators discussion in which the “nukes gone by lunchtime” comment was raised as a political stalking tool over Brash etc.

    Really, it’s time politicians, senior politicans for that matter (Goff) took the responisibility of their positions seriously, for the better good of NZ (and not as a means to score political points in minor squabbles etc).

    How can Tucker, MFAT, Opposition MP’s etc, be safeguarded when idiots like Goff don’t follow the rule book? Perhaps it’s time a rule book was draw up for the pollies (all pollies, not just Labour) to follow when it comes to issues such as national security (or whatever else deemed to be important etc) and they get their asses severley kicked when over stepping the mark.

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  60. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    niggly

    You are right; it is difficult when politicians don’t follow the conventions that have developed for everyone’s benefit. I just hope that there can be a way forward from what I see as a very unsatisfactory impasse.

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  61. Elaycee (4,058 comments) says:

    Clearly some lefty apologists don’t realise that Tucker has nothing to defend. His reputation is totally intact.

    Goff has made allegations about Tucker. All facts (including the OIA material) point to Tuckers account (the only written account, by the way) as being correct. Goff is currently the laughing stock of the country – he is being described as something between an outright liar to a person suffering from dementia. Not a good look.

    The usual leftard apologists are just beating this up for no other reason than their beloved left has stuffed up yet again and they are trying to maintain some conspiracy based smokescreen. There is no impasse – Goff has been proven to be economical with the facts – and no amount of lefty based spin can change the facts. Its only a matter of time before Goff goes, but hopefully he’ll remain in the role until November – because he is proving to be the gift that keeps on giving.

    The only credibility on the line is [apart from Goff et al] is that of the apologists who cannot see fact for ideology.

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  62. niggly (779 comments) says:

    Politicians and conventions – dreams are free for us mere mortals, eh MM :-)

    KIA – I suppose then, to state the obvious, that this “sisterhood” still has full control over Goff. After all, “they” appointed him back in 2008 after all etc.

    Goff’s handling of this affair, to stay on message & constantly try and draw linkages in people’s minds as to the PM being involved behind the scenes (like in today’s NZ Herald article trying to link JK to the SIS releasing to Slater), is a very familiar style to what we’ve had to endure in recent years. But clearly, Goff’s not “wearing the pants” still, they haven’t come off the last lot…

    In some ways then the future is predictable, perhaps.

    Goff will do a Helen, never admitt being wrong, smear a civil servant, Tucker, (remember Doone, anyone?), and maintain that line till his dying days (which as an aside, is rather scary as it means future political biographies on Clark and Goff will be rather sanitised, unless their friends and enemies squark). Trouble is, Goff can’t execute anything as good as his predecessor (as you say, it’s not his usual style … maybe this is why he comes across as stunted??) so it won’t work as well. They really need to move to a new plan eh. Maybe they should try being honest and humble, serving the people, not as being anointed as rulers of the people? :-)

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  63. kiwi in america (2,321 comments) says:

    Niggly
    Goff hasn’t balls to do a Helen – if you are going to get into a fight with a senior civil servant you have to be prepared to go all the way and bury them. Goff made big threats and has run scared. Clark would’ve surgically executed Tucker just as she did with Doone and others.

    Goff is trying to spin his way out all the while thinking Mossad agent story somehow has traction. What planet is he on? Joe 6 pack voter is concerned about the economy, jobs, maybe a bit squeemish about the asset sales – this is not the kind of issue to die in the ditch over.

    Labour insiders are beside themselves. Don’t count out someone that Goff admires having the woodshed chat to persuade him to go quietly but that will only work if someone on the front bench will do a Mike Moore and stand up and fight to try and salvage a respectable result.

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  64. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    > Tucker is in an invidious position. He cannot comment in public.

    He doesn’t need to. All he has to to is release the relevant documents, including the handwritten notes of the briefing. Pretty simple really.

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  65. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    [DPF: This is why Key is at 55% and Goff at 7%. Key admits his mistakes. Goff blames everyone else]

    No, Key doesn’t admit his mistakes. He is economical with the truth. His position on Iraq has changed. He said NZ should send troops to Iraq and then he said we shouldn’t. He said he wouldn’t touch Kiwisaver and wouldn’t increase GST. When has he said he lied about these issues? He has made excuse after excuse to defend his lies. It’s interesting, DPF, your approach to Key’s lies. Forgive and forget.

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  66. kiwi in america (2,321 comments) says:

    Ross
    I guess the voters see it differently
    Key 55 – Goff 7
    Labour 30 (and falling) – National 50

    The issue is about competance – NZers see Goff as incompetent and Key as more competent. Just had a chat with a Labour activist very senior in Clark’s government and not a big Clark fan and someone who likes Goff personally – his comments about Goff as LOO and on this issue were so scathing they’re unprintable.

    But do what you have to do to keep hope alive.

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  67. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    ross is clutching at some pretty thin straws.

    It is quite clear that what has been released is what there is. Rabbiting on about non-existent handwritten notes is laughable.

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  68. Nookin (2,887 comments) says:

    Ross.

    As I read the comments in response to the SAS/Goff positions, I can identify people who gleefully frolic in Goff’s discomfort and who are all too ready to conclude that he has been lying. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who, despite what appears to be cogent evidence, refuse to accept any possibility that Goff may have done anything wrong. I put you in that category.

    You place great store in the Public Records Act. The Act does not require a verbatim record of proceedings. The specific requirement is to maintain “full and accurate records of its affairs, in accordance with normal, prudent business practice…”.

    Read in the light of the director’s obligations (to consult with the leader of the opposition), the “records” do appear to comply with the Act. Those records include an agenda for the meeting on 14 March , a summary of issues discussed at the previous meeting and a list of issues raised by the leader of the opposition at the previous meeting.

    The next meeting was on the 6 April. It contains one issue to be discussed at that meeting. It lists those items discussed at the previous meeting (14 March) which included the investigation into an Israeli nationals in Christchurch. It lists issues raised by the leader of the opposition. While it would be interesting to see specifically what issues Goff actually raised and whether he made specific reference to the Israeli investigation, I do not think that we are ever going to see those questions for reasons that I will come to.

    There is a further document, a specific report on the investigation dated 8 March 2011. The handwritten note records that the leader of the opposition read the document and it was discussed.

    Given that the obligation is simply to consult and not to make any decisions with the leader of the opposition, I doubt that there would be few people who would contest the adequacy of these records in the context of the obligations under the Public Records Act.

    I am not sure what further information you require. Some of the documentation is redacted. The reasons for that are quite clear. The director has released documentation that discloses the fact of the meeting. Ordinarily, that documentation would be regarded as confidential but the leader of the opposition waived the confidentiality thereby removing the statutory grounds for withholding the information.

    The director has clearly stated that the substance of the investigation involves matters of national security and he is not prepared to release that information. It does not necessarily follow from that statement that there was substance to the allegation. The security matters may relate to methodology, sources of information, identification of persons involved et cetera. There is also the issue of prohibition of disclosure in the New Zealand Security Intelligence Services Act.

    The record therefore shows an agenda (evidencing an intention to discuss the matter), an agenda for a subsequent meeting confirming the discussion and referring to specific issues raised by the leader of the opposition and a separate report which was read by and discussed with the leader of the opposition. In my view that clearly complies with the Act.

    When deciding who was right and who is wrong, there are some extremely serious questions to be asked. The director has documented an intention to discuss matters with the leader of the opposition. In two separate, subsequent documents, he has recorded that the matters were discussed. One of those documents was prepared for and presumably presented to the leader of the opposition on 6 April. The other one, presumably in the handwriting of the director, incontrovertibly asserts that its content was read by and discussed with the leader of the opposition on 14 March.

    We therefore have 2 documents which, if Goff is to be believed, have been falsified. Although it has not yet been established whether the agenda of the meeting on 6 April was brought to the attention of Mr Goff, I would be very surprised if he had not seen it. Had he seen it and not taken issue at that time, he loses all credibility.

    As it currently stands, I see very little room for one or other of these parties to have been mistaken. There is, possibly, a remote chance that has talked himself into believing that the matter was not discussed. The biggest hurdle he faces is that he is attributing bad faith to a civil servant with an impeccable record despite his protestations that he is not accusing Dr Tucker of lying.

    Goff’s credibility took a significant beating over the “gone by lunchtime” leaks as well as his complicity in the Richard Worth affair. While it is a very hard call to determine that he might be lying, the evidence and common sense is more consistent with that conclusion than the conclusion that Dr Tucker has been dishonest or incompetent to a wholly unacceptable standard.

    Sadly, this whole problem was so avoidable. There can be very little doubt that blame lies with Goff. He deliberately set out to score political points at a time when Key was out of the country. When Key recorded his understanding (given to him by Dr Tucker) that Goff had been briefed, Goff made the call of making a public issue of it rather than deal with it at a personal level with Dr Tucker. For Goff, it was wholly a matter of public vindication at the expense of a civil servant. It was poor judgement. He has made it worse.

    Kiwi saver and GST are wholly irrelevant. You seem to vindicate Goff by accusing Key of lying on these issues. Do you have even the remotest evidence that Key made the statements at a time when he intended to raise GST and interfere with Kiwi saver? Your logic simply establishes a bigotry which raises serious doubts as to your judgement.

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  69. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    Good comments Nookin

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  70. Elaycee (4,058 comments) says:

    Jeez Ross, clearly you are another fully paid up member of the Club where everyone pushes doors marked ‘pull.’

    And playing a sad and lonely tune.

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  71. mikenmild (8,723 comments) says:

    Elaycee – it staggers me that anyone can stick up for Goff on this issue.

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  72. Elaycee (4,058 comments) says:

    milkmilo – it only took you 1622 posts to write something totally sensible. Well done! :)

    But FFS, don’t take another 1622 to do so again…. :(

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  73. niggly (779 comments) says:

    Well really Goff needs to go. I’m not necessarily saying so because of this issue (although this issue is yet another nail in the coffin), but saying in general, because whatever subject Goff turns to it turns to crap on him.

    Nevermind he doesn’t want to see that way (ya know, in his eyes he’s vindicated), but for the sake of the voting public and Labour and their supporters as a whole.

    (Which pains me to say it, cos I’ve really been enjoying this near daily entertainment & popcorn sessions, thanks to Goff and his leadership).

    I’m really loathe to say it but someone like Silent T (and his union faction) needs to take over the leadership. I’m loathe to say it cos ol’ Cunners bores me shitless and I do get rather tired of his rhetoric (“the National Govt are doing nothing…”), which is just immature and insults people’s intelligence. But at least ol’ Cunner’s has an interest in the economy for example, y’know the thing that most kiwis worry about etc. So at least someone like him in Labour can get the discourse back onto more pressing issues (rather than Goff distracted trying to undermine Key all the time and falling flat on his face) like the economy. Like I say I’m loathe to see the Goff gift stop giving, but Goff’s time is nearly up and the last thing we want are the sisterhood dumping Goff in favour of Parker – remember the people pulling the strings are still tied up in the societal issues of their youth & linking global issues to back up their wider agenda as being important etc. Labour as a whole needs to break away if they want to be relevant again as a viable Opposition and one day a viable Govt – for their sake (not necessarily mine). :-)

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