Slate, an influential US publication, notes:
Most governments are unwilling to own up to unlawful surveillance. But not in New Zealand. The country’s prime minister this week admittedthat one of its spy agencies illegally intercepted Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom’s communications for a full month—prompting aninquiry into how it was allowed to happen. …
In response to the revelation, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has apologized to Dotcom. Key has also ordered the GCSB to review all cases dating back to 2009. That Key has apologised is commendable, as is his handling of the illegal spying generally. There are few governments in the world willing to candidly publicly acknowledge wrongdoing by their intelligence agencies, especially when it comes to high profile cases. When authorities commit wrongdoing the tendency is often to keep it under wraps in a self-interested bid to protect reputations. In this case, despite knowing it would cause controversy and a storm of negative reaction, N.Z.’s government chose disclosure over secrecy. A rare example of transparency more countries could do well to follow.
Well it’s hard for me to say that, but it is clear to me that the Prime Minister did really get stuck into this agency very heavily when he found out what they’d done. I am sure they’re all running very scared there now, and that they are trying to rectify what was an egregious error, and it seems to me that that’s what a minister should do when confronted with this sort of situation. The doctrine of administerial responsibility says you have to put it right.
The PM sent in the Inspector-General when notified, informed the public what had happened, released the IG’s report, and gave the GCSB a powerful public booting. Other PMs might have kept it all private.
Palmer was asked:
Is there a need do you think then, for a wider inquiry?
Well I think you have to be very careful about this. These two intelligence agencies, the GCSB and the Security Intelligence Service are both intelligence agencies. You can’t have an open inquiry like a commission of inquiry with evidence in public about that, because these agencies will cease to be any use if their secrecy is not preserved.
Hat Tip to Whale for the Slate link.Tags: GCSB, Geoffrey Palmer, John Key