Fixing GCSB

April 9th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Remember all those people complaining that new Director Ian Fletcher didn’t come from the traditional military background of former directors? I think we are seeing why a change from the status quo was needed.

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

The Government’s beleaguered intelligence agency may have unlawfully spied on 85 people, a top secret review reveals.

The report, ordered after the Kim Dotcom fiasco, contains a raft of criticisms of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). …

The revelations are contained in the report, prepared by Cabinet Secretary , and seen by Fairfax Media. …

The explosive revelations confirm that the illegal spying was far broader than the Dotcom case – and involves up to 85 people and cases dating back nearly a decade.

The illegal spying was conducted between April 2003 and September last year and done on behalf of the Security Intelligence Service, the domestic spy agency.

People should ask themselves if previous Prime Ministers would have sent in their top official to review the GCSB, and make her findings public.

Agency staff worked faithfully and were devastated to learn they were not acting within the law. There was no evidence they acted in bad faith or believed the end justified the means, the report says.

Culture problems at the agency could take a year to fix, Kitteridge says.

The GCSB’s organisation was overly complex, fragmented and had too many managers. Poor performing staff were tolerated, rather than fired or disciplined, because of fears that disgruntled former employees could pose a security risk.

And

It is understood new legislation will be introduced to Parliament soon after the report’s release.

Good. Once upon a time the Government wouldn’t even admit there was a GCSB. It was created my Muldoon in 1977 and not even Cabinet was told of it.

UPDATE: This is unusual. The entire paragraphs that I quoted from the story have now been removed from it. I wonder why?

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33 Responses to “Fixing GCSB”

  1. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    So if Fletcher supposedly has the competency to sort this mess out, how is it that his investigation found that the GCSB didn’t spy illegally on anyone other than Kim Dotcom and Bram van der Kolk, yet Kitteridge now says 85 New Zealanders may have been illegally spied on?

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  2. Paulus (2,607 comments) says:

    So Kim Dotcom did some good after all exposing the failings of GCSB.
    I hope that a new agency arises from this debacle.
    I see that Ferguson is “very upset” that he has been “commented” upon in the Kitteridge report.
    Looks as he has something to hide, rather than take it as it is, in that he had some years of opportunity to do something about, and didn’t.
    Sounds like good military training – if it ain’t broke, in my opinion, don’t do anything.

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  3. Redbaiter (8,551 comments) says:

    Hollywood, John Key, Barack Obama, Ian Fletcher, a dysfunctional dept… all making the Kim Dotcom prosecution look increasingly nefarious.

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  4. Viking2 (11,413 comments) says:

    “It was created my Muldoon in ”

    My Muldoon????
    DPF Oh dear.

    I see see the Honourable Sir Fergie has accused Key of dope smoking over this.
    What a turkey he would be.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10876297

    Last fergie (fron NZ) that was popular was a cow from the Waikato. Wonder if there is any relationship?

    Am liking Key more now he has found his mojo and decided pratts and lefties and Maori politicans will always be useless.

    Just need to get him to understand that manufacturer’s are important people still.
    Then maybe we will make progress in this world.

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  5. peterwn (3,243 comments) says:

    Labour seems to have finally found a way of creating jobs – hold an inquiry into GCSB and anything else that moves. Only trouble is these jobs would not exactly boost the national economy.

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  6. Chris2 (762 comments) says:

    A previous long-serving senior GCSB employee and later Director of GCSB was Warren Tucker, so presumably he contributed to the Bureau’s poor performance… and now he has been head of the SIS for sometime. So what damage has he overseen in that organisation during his tenure? Time for him to go.

    Much is made of the Inspector-General of Intelligence being a retired High Court Judge, but clearly he has bee “asleep at the wheel” whilst all this illegal spying was going on. Time for him to go.

    The leaked report to the Dominion-Post will now be the subject of a witch-hunt within the GCSB and SIS – it will be the first thing both agencies will have turned their attention to this morning when they arrived at work. They will be more interested in finding out who leaked the report, than fixing the problems contained in it.

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  7. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @Chris2 9:38 am

    Much is made of the Inspector-General of Intelligence being a retired High Court Judge, but clearly he has bee “asleep at the wheel” whilst all this illegal spying was going on.

    A lot of the problem here is that the Inspector-General has a budget of only $130,000, so isn’t resourced to provide proper oversight.

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  8. PaulD (97 comments) says:

    On Morning Report Ferguson thought that the draft report he saw was thorough and balanced. He did have problems with Key’s comments, “Mr Key “can think what he wants” but the Prime Minister “didn’t really take much interest in the organisation as far as I was aware of while I was there”.”

    If you are counting “asleep at the wheel” candidates is Key also included?

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  9. Mark (1,480 comments) says:

    my Muldoon

    somewhat Freudian DPF :)

    Fletcher does not appear to come out of this unscathed it would seem. Credit to Key for having Kitteridge conduct her inquiry and also to have the report released. The last few weeks is given a sign that perhaps he is toughening up at last which can only be a good thing.

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  10. Chris2 (762 comments) says:

    @Toad 9:50am am wrote

    A lot of the problem here is that the Inspector-General has a budget of only $130,000, so isn’t resourced to provide proper oversight.

    I think that cover’s his office expenses, accommodation and part-time secretary, etc. Under the IGIS Act he is remunerated under the terms of the Fees and Travelling Allowances Act 1951, so there is really no limitation on how much he “earns”.

    In any event, if he feels he is under-resourced he only has himself to blame – he has been the Inspector-General for over 10 years, following his predecessors sudden resignation after making the famous “outski” comment about Zaoui. If Neazor needs more resources then he has had more than 10 years to ask for them.

    Incidentally, it was Neazor as Soliciotor-General, who refused to prosecute the retired cop Hutton who died last week, who was found to have planted the cartridge case on Arthur Alan Thomas’s property.

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  11. Keeping Stock (10,299 comments) says:

    The revelation that the gung-ho stuff at GCSB started when the bureau was under Helen Clark’s watch will undermine Labour’s attempts to make political capital out of it now. If a micro-manager like Clark (with Heather Simpson at her side) couldn’t keep GCSB under control, no-one could.

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  12. Komata (1,178 comments) says:

    Re: ‘…illegal spying was conducted between April 2003 and…..’.

    2003? Mmmm let’s see, who was in power then? Oh yes between 2003 and 2008, ’twas Helun. Helun? Spying on others? No, it couldn’t be, tell me it wasn’t so, never the morally upright Helen Elizabeth Clark.! Never, ever, ever.

    ‘Cue outraged MSM journalists and commentators’. How dare she spy on anyone..

    I said ‘Cue outraged MSM journalists and commentators’. How dare she spy on anyone..

    For the third time ‘Cue outraged MSM journalists and commentators’. How dare she spy on anyone..

    Oh, the only reaction is an echoing and deafening silence.

    I wonder why……

    (BTW, has anyone rung New York this morning – just to check on the veracity of the story of course – and to ask for a ‘comment’? No? Odd that).

    The silence continues, continues, continues……..

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  13. Graeme Edgeler (3,283 comments) says:

    UPDATE: This is unusual. The entire paragraphs that I quoted from the story have now been removed from it. I wonder why?

    This is not unusual. As events change throughout the course of the day, major stories are re-written repeatedly on the Stuff website. Bits get taken out, other bits get added.

    I’d prefer they didn’t do that, and had the major story and then separate stories for the updates, but that’s not really how they do it.

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  14. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,888 comments) says:

    I’m surprised Helen Clark didn’t legislate to retrospectively make the spying legal.

    That’s the Labour way.

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  15. metcalph (1,428 comments) says:

    Incidentally, it was Neazor as Soliciotor-General, who refused to prosecute the retired cop Hutton who died last week, who was found to have planted the cartridge case on Arthur Alan Thomas’s property.

    A royal commission made the claim without given Hutton a chance to respond. As in the Erebus inquiry, that’s a breach of natural justice and grounds for being struck out.

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  16. Chris2 (762 comments) says:

    Metcalp @ 11:06am wrote:

    A royal commission made the claim without given Hutton a chance to respond. As in the Erebus inquiry, that’s a breach of natural justice and grounds for being struck out.

    The Royal Commission report was released in 1980. Hutton had 33 years to challenge its findings, either legally, via the Police Union, through the media, or in book. He did none of these, refusing all requests for a comment from the media for more than three decades, taking his version to the grave with him

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  17. metcalph (1,428 comments) says:

    That’s nice. Still doesn’t change the fact that the Royal Commission’s finding about Hutton is legally flawed. That Neazor refused to prosecute indicates that its finding was also bullshit as well.

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  18. Ed Snack (1,849 comments) says:

    metcalph, it doesn’t indicate that the finding was bullshit, but it does indicate that Neazor lacked the balls and morals to prosecute a crook who just happened to be “their crook”.

    Hutton’s only excuse could be that he didn’t plant it personally or that it was planned and executed by his long deceased partner in the investigation. It otherwise defies any apologist to claim that a cartridge manufactured after the shooting and not matching the actual bullet turned up in a previously searched location so conveniently in the top 1 cm of soil to be found immediately a re-search was ordered.

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  19. peterwn (3,243 comments) says:

    Ed Snack – One would hope in a civilized society, a prosecution agency proceeds with a prosecution only if it is well founded, in particular that the evidence stacks up beyond reasonable doubt. Otherwise the prosecution agency becomes a ‘persecution’ agency. To say ‘let a jury decide’ where a case is weak is a most serious infringement of the accused’s human rights.

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  20. tvb (4,364 comments) says:

    Sir Bruce Fergussen is a nut case. I seriously question how this deranged person can get into such Senior Positions. The extravagance of the language he uses against the Prime Minister makes me wonder whether he should keep his military rank.

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  21. ex-golfer (158 comments) says:

    Whole paragraphs replaced in the original article?
    Might it have something to do eith Parliament question 4 today from Wussel Norman?
    Has there been a leak perchance?

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  22. davidp (3,580 comments) says:

    I have no experience with signals intelligence, but I have had contact a few years ago with the cyber security guys at GCSB who were offering to run some penetration tests against the IT systems that my non-classified government employer operated. I asked them what sort of tools they’d be using. They wouldn’t tell me, doing their best to hint that their methods were secret and extremely advanced.

    Looking at this logically, I was expected to believe that these guys had penetration testing tools that could detect vulnerabilities in IT systems that are produced by companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and F5 that aren’t known to the companies themselves. Or to the vendors of commercial penetration testing tools, who did this for a living. Or to the developers of open source penetration testing tools, which includes some standard IT security tools that should be in use by every IT shop in my opinion. Or to the IT security consultancy industry, which includes a lot of guys who do penetration testing full time and earn a shit load of money to do so. That’s all pretty improbable, but then there is the moral issue that GCSB would like to to think that they know about vulnerabilities in IT systems that create risk for everyone but don’t publicise this information so that consumers, business, and other people can address this risk.

    I concluded that the GCSB guys probably used the same tools as everyone else, and were essentially running a small IT security consultancy out of a government agency. Which is cool… it is a useful service. But I thought the whole “secret squirrel” vibe was very unprofessional. To be effective, these guys need to be interacting with the wider industry and their peers in business and government. Not hidden away with some spys. And they need to be paid a reasonable amount… they advertise on seek.co.nz, and they offer a pittance.

    I hope Fletcher tackles this as he fixes the GCSB culture and organisational structure. Personally I’d take the whole cyber security function and transfer it to the office of the Government CIO in DIA.

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  23. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    I think we are seeing why a change from the status quo was needed.

    But didn’t Ian Fletcher state publicly that he was aware of only 3 cases of possible illegal spying? Yeah we can have complete confidence in him when he makes a blunder confusing 3 with 85.

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  24. metcalph (1,428 comments) says:

    metcalph, it doesn’t indicate that the finding was bullshit, but it does indicate that Neazor lacked the balls and morals to prosecute a crook who just happened to be “their crook”.

    The only evidence that you have that Hutton is a crook is on the legally flawed say-so of the Royal Comission.

    Hutton’s only excuse could be that he didn’t plant it personally or that it was planned and executed by his long deceased partner in the investigation.

    Blaming a dead guy without any chance to rebuttal. That’s truly some stunning moral high ground there. About as bad as the attempts to blame Leo Demler for the murders after he died and not when he was still alive.

    It otherwise defies any apologist to claim that a cartridge manufactured after the shooting and not matching the actual bullet turned up in a previously searched location so conveniently in the top 1 cm of soil to be found immediately a re-search was ordered.

    Given that one of the boffins concerned for revealing that the cartridge was planted was one Jim Sprott who convinced me he was a nutcase on the basis of his reasoning in his campaign on the causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome some years later, the Royal Comission here is looking decidedly dodgy. Who else do we have? Ah yes, one Ross Meurant. The best advice when dealing with him is to adapt Reagan’s advice and say “Verify then Trust”.

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  25. lastmanstanding (1,281 comments) says:

    IMHO the best example of our so called spy agencies was the guy that left the brief case containing a pie a Penthouse and some so called classified papers on a park bench all those years ago.

    They strike me as being terribly self important delusional paranoid individuals that would fail any psy tests.

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  26. davidp (3,580 comments) says:

    tvb>Sir Bruce Fergussen is a nut case.

    He digs his own grave in his quoted statements. More evidence that GCSB shouldn’t be a dumping ground for retired military officers.

    I checked out the directors of the NSA. They were generally 3 star rank… LtGen or equivalent. Ferguson and Mataparae were also 3 star rank when they retired as Chief of the Defence Force and went on to GCSB. So giant NSA and tiny GCSB need to be run by an officer of the same rank? Something doesn’t sound right there for a start. Firstly, treating the agency as a retirement project. Secondly, there seems to be evidence or rank inflation in the NZ defence forces. RNZAF and the Israeli Air Force are both commanded by 2 star ranks. RNZAF has a handful of aircraft and helicopters, of which only the five or six Orions really qualify as combat aircraft. On the other hand the Israeli Air Force has around 400 F15s and F16s, besides a bunch of other aircraft. Are these really comparable?

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  27. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    ross69 12:16 pm

    But didn’t Ian Fletcher state publicly that he was aware of only 3 cases of possible illegal spying?

    And later announced that those 3 cases were not illegal spying. Nek minnit, 85 cases appear in the Kitteridge report!

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  28. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Blaming a dead guy without any chance to rebuttal. That’s truly some stunning moral high ground there..

    Oh I dunno. It’s worked wonders for David Bain.

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  29. Pete George (23,476 comments) says:

    Bill English has said the Kitteridge report will be released to the public today after it had been leaked to Andrea Vance at Fairfax. Another leak involving our supposedly super secret spy agency.

    On top of the Shearer leaker, and the Ferguson leakers. And Grant Robertson seems to be close to the leakages too.

    Investigations seem to be on to one of those…

    Senior sources have told the Herald that the person suspected of leaking information to Labour about that briefing – including claims Mr Key was not only briefed about the Dotcom surveillance, but joked about it – had been identified and had now “lawyered up”.

    If the report establishes a leak, the GCSB’s legislation carries a penalty of up to two years in prison.

    …but that doesn’t seemed to have stemmed the leaking.

    Government Communications Sieve Bureau

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  30. Pete George (23,476 comments) says:

    PM releases report into GCSB compliance

    Prime Minister John Key today released the report of Rebecca Kitteridge into compliance at the Government Communications Security Bureau.

    Ms Kitteridge was seconded to the GCSB to undertake the review in October 2012.

    The review had two main areas of focus – ensuring that all the GCSB’s activities are lawful; and reviewing the agency’s compliance framework.

    “I had intended to release this report to the Intelligence and Security Committee next week, however the public disclosure of the contents of the report means I have taken the decision to release it today.

    “Members of the Intelligence and Security Committee have received the report a short time in advance of my releasing it publicly.

    “The report makes for sobering reading. At a high level it finds long-standing, systemic problems with the GCSB’s compliance systems and aspects of its organisation and culture.

    “In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.

    “It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known.

    “I acknowledge this review will knock public confidence in the GCSB.

    “This is why the Government has a comprehensive response underway to address the organisational problems at the GCSB.

    “The steps we are taking will be outlined in detail next week and are intended to begin the process of rebuilding public confidence in GCSB.”

    The GCSB Act has been in place for 10 years. Over that time, GCSB has been providing assistance to other agencies, including the New Zealand Police, New Zealand Defence Force and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service.

    It has done so in the belief that it was acting within the law on all occasions.

    “The report shows that the work the GCSB undertakes is vital to the safety and security of New Zealand.

    “For many years, it has been making a significant contribution to the country’s national security. It is at the forefront of protecting New Zealand from the rapidly evolving and increasingly sophisticated threats in cyberspace.

    “The nature of the GCSB’s work means it has extensive powers. These powers are intrusive, and they are subject to controls and limitations.

    ‘With these powers comes responsibility – a responsibility to act within the law and maintain public confidence.

    “I expect the GCSB to always operate within the law.

    “The advice we have recently received from the Solicitor-General is that there are difficulties interpreting the legislation and there is a risk some longstanding practices of providing assistance to other agencies would not be found to be lawful.

    “The Inspector General of Intelligence and Security first raised a question regarding the GCSB’s assistance to NZSIS in May last year. I was first told of a potential issue in July by GCSB Director Ian Fletcher.

    “Lawyers from GCSB and NZSIS were in correspondence with the Inspector General and Crown Law and I asked Mr Fletcher to keep me informed. The issue was unresolved when support for domestic agencies ceased in September due to the Dotcom case.

    There are 88 cases identified as having a question mark over them since 2003.

    Police have conducted a thorough check of all their systems. Police advise that no arrest, prosecution or any other legal processes have occurred as a result of the information supplied to NZSIS by GCSB.

    “I have written to the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security and asked him to look into those cases.

    “I have asked him to inquire into each of these cases to determine in each case whether or not GCSB has acted in compliance with the law. I have requested that the Inspector General determine whether any individuals have been adversely affected and, if so, what action he recommends be taken.

    “It is not my intention to disclose details of those cases. However, the results of the review will be made public after its completion.

    “It is absolutely critical the GCSB has a clear legal framework to operate within.

    “When I return from China, I will announce details of legislative proposals the Government will be bringing to Parliament to remedy the inadequacies of the GCSB Act.

    “At the same time I will announce proposals to significantly strengthen the oversight regime across the intelligence community.

    “The Government will be talking to other political parties over the coming weeks about the specific proposals.

    “I’d like to make it clear that Ms Kitteridge’s review found staff members at the GCSB take their jobs seriously and care deeply about operating within the bounds of the law.

    “I would like to thank Ms Kitteridge for her thorough and comprehensive report,” says Mr Key.

    The report will be available at http://www.gcsb.govt.nz. The review references appendices that are legally privileged and highly classified, and these will not be made available.

    http://johnkey.co.nz/archives/1632-PM-releases-report-into-GCSB-compliance.html

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  31. backster (2,152 comments) says:

    Chris 2……………In 1970 the Police Union did not represent Commissioned Officers. There was a Commissioned Officers Guild as there were only 2000 Police nationwide (over 10,000 today) the Guild probably numbered 200 or less, could be seen as an Executive rather than a Union. Once the finding was made HUtton had no show, he couldn’t continue as a cop because his integrity had been destroyed (unfairly in my view). He couldn’t appeal to the media they had been on Thomas side for years even moreso post the decision. To write a book you need money a publisher , and a market, the hysterical euphoria in support of Thomas denied him any chance of that.

    Re the GCSB…If our spies, through complex processes, and legal limitations are unable to spy then why have them at all.

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  32. Viking2 (11,413 comments) says:

    ‘Cue outraged MSM journalists and commentators’. How dare she spy on anyone..

    I said ‘Cue outraged MSM journalists and commentators’. How dare she spy on anyone..

    For the third time ‘Cue outraged MSM journalists and commentators’. How dare she spy on anyone..
    ===================

    Will be plenty of outrage if it shows a journo or the Greens or even Winny have been spied upon.
    Popcorn will become expensive. :lol:

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  33. tas (623 comments) says:

    The current governor-general was GCSB head before he was appointed. This doesn’t boost my confidence in him.

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