Young on Key and GCSB

July 20th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

writes:

 Labour made the story about , not Kim Dotcom, or the agency itself. And with a few victories against him, such as fingering him for shoulder-tapping an old school mate for the directorship, it could not bring itself to support Key’s bill.

Key has not been given credit for much in the process. But he clearly had concerns about the GCSB before the unlawful spying on Dotcom.

It had been run by a tight club within the defence and intelligence community and established some disturbing work habits, as the Kitteridge report exposed.

The notion that everything was hunky dory back in the days of former Chief of Defence Force Sir Bruce Ferguson is myth. Most of the legally dubious spying on New Zealanders went on under his, and Labour’s, watch.

Of the 88 cases, only four were warranted, according to the agency itself.

Ian Fletcher’s appointment should, at the very least, be seen as an attempt to break the stranglehold of the old boys’ defence network on the agency and letting some civilian light into it.

Rebecca Kitteridge’s appointment said a lot too. As Cabinet secretary she is not the minute-taker but the guardian of proper process, ensuring that things are done by the rules and the law.

It is clear from her report that the GCSB was not following the law on the issue of collecting metadata on New Zealanders and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security thought it was.

Key is cleaning up a mess entirely uncreated by him. The only area of real criticism is not being more forthright over his ringing Ian Fletcher to let him know about the job. Labour created the mess with their 2003 law change and seem to be refusing to play a constructive role in fixing it. In fact they have said a public inquiry should review if we even stay in the Five Eyes network with Australia, Canada, UK and US – possibly the stupidest of all their policies.

There are three things he could do in the coming week that would make the bill more acceptable than it is now, to the public and other parties.

First, he could write two reviews into the bill, one to begin in 18 months, straight after the next election, and one every five years after that, as the Australians do.

It’s effectively what Labour is promising.

Several weeks ago Key said he would promise a review only if it would get Labour on board.

He should do it to get the public on board, whether or not Labour agrees.

Secondly, he should go back to the Kitteridge report for a lead on how to beef up oversight. The report cited this quote from the 1999 Inspector-General as evidence of how woeful oversight had been: “The fact that there are very few complaints and little need for any inquiry … of the GCSB indicates … that the performance of their activities does not impinge adversely on New Zealand citizens”. …

Thirdly Key, as Prime Minister and the minister responsible for the GCSB, needs to make a clear statement on metadata (information about communications).

Specifically, he needs to say what the GCSB has done in the past and what constraints it will operate under in the future. He should admit that the agency has previously, on many occasions, collected metadata on New Zealanders unlawfully – believing it was doing so lawfully.

He should reassure New Zealanders, if he can do so truthfully, that there has been no mass collection of metadata passed on to intelligence partners overseas and there won’t be in the future.

He should assure the public that any collection of metadata of New Zealanders in the future, like other communications, will have to be by warrant.

The first two seem sensible. The third could be more challenging. People use the term metadata in different ways.

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23 Responses to “Young on Key and GCSB”

  1. WineOh (541 comments) says:

    I heard a very soft interview with Shearer last night on National Radio, a chunk of which was about the GCSB.
    Even my slightly more left-leaning wife was calling him on his bullsh!t… he was all talking about perceptions (rather than reality) and “what NZers are concerned about” rather than actually talking about policy & details.

    He blindly ignores the fact that successive governments for many years have acted outside the letter of the law in surveillance. Hilariously he states “we do not negotiate through the media, but sit down around a table to discuss…” followed in the next sentence around what Labour would negotiate on to support the bill. Which… is… negotiating through the media?? Fucking hypocrite.

    The bill itself seems ok for the most part, but for the sake of transparency and protecting the privacy interests of NZers the suggestion of having an independent oversight committee makes sense (even if this was the suggestion of the NZ First party).

    The most infuriating & incredulous part of the same interview was when it moved into the manufacturing inquiry. My paraphrasing-

    Interviewer: Are you concerned that the National government may make some of the changes recommended in the report?
    Shearer: Yes that would be a shame.

    WTF, its clear that they have put this policy together for the politics, not the actual effect or benefit for those working in the sector or the strength an improvement in the manufacturing sector would add to the economy. He was worried about Labour not getting credit for the changes if the Nats enacted changes to support and grow the sector, rather than the actual result and benefits it would produce.

    Full interview here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/2562759

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  2. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Labour have been missing in action on this, negligently. Shearer said Key just has to pick up the phone. But Key is busy as PM, perhaps Shearer could actually show some leadership and take the initiative. But he doesn’t want to or isn’t allowed to.

    The initial version of the bill was not flash. At least Key has shown that he is willing to work on it with others to get it right. He has been working with Dunne and already reached some agreement on changes, he has given a nod to an NZ First idea, and he has acknowledged the merit of a John Banks suggestion.

    Key has even said he would talk to Labour about it, if they ever get their act together.

    So there are prospects of a much improved bill with input from multiple parties. But no thanks to Labour. At least their essential co-party Greens are actively challenging aspects of the bill to raise attention to the worst parts of it.

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  3. flipper (3,537 comments) says:

    One could nit-pick over aspects of Young’s analysis. But I thought it nailed some truths where they needed nailing.

    The bottom line is , IMHO:

    * Rigorous oversight, a la Aussie, or tighter still;
    * More meaningful information published, and the elimination of “not in national interest bullshit”, unless there is REAL, established, national risk
    * Open Select Committee hearings every year, with additional closed briefing sessions bi- monthly. If JK is too busy (well, if his minders think he is) for that tough. Make Finlayson responsible.
    * Kill, stone dead, the Ferguson defence/MFAT/judicial cabal (which dates back to the famous Brigadier Gilbert of Kelburn).

    Get all that done and it will have my support. Oh, and keep “Five eyes” open.

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  4. Nostalgia-NZ (4,898 comments) says:

    Audrey Young has nailed it with her third point, frank disclosure and easy to understand digestion of how it will effect the public if the changes are made. The latter probably the critical point of the whole debate.

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  5. flipper (3,537 comments) says:

    N-NZ….
    Yep, a/correct
    F

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  6. leftyliberal (642 comments) says:

    “But he clearly had concerns about the GCSB before the unlawful spying on Dotcom.”

    Did I miss some evidence on this? If it wasn’t for the Dotcom thing would we even be hearing about this?

    I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, but I see no evidence that Key deserves any in the leadup to this. In the select committee hearings Key appeared dismissive and uninterested, regardless of who was presenting to the committee. This was an ideal opportunity for him to show real leadership (which he has done in the past) and IMO he missed the boat.

    I agree with Young on the last points, however – Key needs to stop playing politics and ensure clear oversight is in place (and clearly articulate them) to give the public confidence, regardless of whether or not it satisfies the opposition.

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  7. MiniBus (6 comments) says:

    How evasive and intrusive is the technology that the GCSB use …. is it an invasion of the mind more than an invasion of privacy

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  8. Harriet (4,497 comments) says:

    Politics is politics and it will always be so.

    But when an aspiring PM such as Shearer starts playing BLATANT politics with a National Security issue, and it is not just with our security, but also involves that of our allies, then that puts a VERY BIG question mark against Shearers name!

    Other spy agencies such as the Aust, US, British, Chinese, and Russians, will be watching this very closely – and to have this level of tardiness in a future PM regarding a security matter is not a good look. It’s a weakness.

    What allied nation is going to entrust anything in NZ when Shearer’s judgement is this bad?

    And what enemy is going to take advantage of it?

    And who’s going to vote for him – other than those who already want to raze NZ that is ? :cool:

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  9. Yoza (1,522 comments) says:

    Isn’t this a prime example of ‘bait and switch’?

    Key ‘tries’ to push through an unacceptably draconian bill giving the NZ security apparatus unprecedented access to all of our electronic communicatons, which he knows will never pass the litmus test of public scrutiny.

    When the outrage nears fever pitch, Key, in an act of humble reconciliation, backs down publicly and offers an amended bill that – although far more permissive than the current law allows – does not go anywhere near appearing to allow the NZ security apparatus carte-blanche access to New Zealander’s electronic communications.

    The ‘watered’ down version of the bill is, of course, the one always intended for use against us – and it is also the one to which Shearer and his little cartel of neo-liberal fanatics have already agreed.

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  10. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    flipper>* Rigorous oversight, a la Aussie, or tighter still;

    How would this oversight work when the GCSB are supporting Police? Police collect intelligence… we had some insight in to their methods when the officer was killed fixing a tracker to a drug dealer’s car a few years ago. So what happens if the police are tracking a car and also employing a GCSB technician to monitor the suspect’s mobile phone? It’d be strange if the mobile phone monitoring was subject to a lot of oversight, but the movement tracking to none. So does the same oversight regime need to apply to the Police as well, with anything that even looks like Police intelligence gathering being subject to oversight? That would apply if they were staking out a home or business premises, following anyone, tapping a phone, trying to develop an informant, affixing tracking devices to vehicles, or using other intelligence techniques.

    You could also apply the oversight to groups like Customs, who have an intelligence unit in Auckland that targets drug importers and other criminals.

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  11. flipper (3,537 comments) says:

    davidp…(2,820) Says:
    July 20th, 2013 at 10:06 am
    flipper>* Rigorous oversight, a la Aussie, or tighter still;

    How would this oversight work when the GCSB are supporting Police? Police collect intelligence… we had some insight in to their methods when the officer was killed fixing a tracker to a drug dealer’s car a few years ago. So what happens if the police are tracking a car and also employing a GCSB technician to monitor the suspect’s mobile phone? It’d
    ,,,,,,,,,,,……………..

    Police use of GCSB HAS to be warranted.

    But why should Police be exempt?

    At times the Molesworth Street Cowboys think they are a down under version of the KGB (Sword and Shield crap). No matter what they say, they are state employees. Without proper Parliamentary oversight (as the FBI is subject to in the US), no unfettered operational freedom (need to change the Piliuce Act. but a quid pro quo) because without that, they have unlimited power, that can be challenged ONLY WHEN IT IS TOO LATE to reversed.

    So … NO gette a warrant.

    No sneekee in on other folks privacy.

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  12. projectman (203 comments) says:

    leftyliberal @ 9:46

    “I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, but I see no evidence that Key deserves any in the leadup to this. In the select committee hearings Key appeared dismissive and uninterested, regardless of who was presenting to the committee. This was an ideal opportunity for him to show real leadership (which he has done in the past) and IMO he missed the boat.”

    The Select Committee is the formal opportunity for people to have their say. John Key did exactly the right thing in acting as facilitator (as a good chairman should), and not imposing his personal views. This is leadership.

    Perhaps you, leftyliberal, have little experience in chairing meetings, or perhaps your own style is autocratic and directing.

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  13. Reid (15,917 comments) says:

    “In fact they have said a public inquiry should review if we even stay in the Five Eyes network with Australia, Canada, UK and US – possibly the stupidest of all their policies.”

    The Five Eyes aka UKUSA agreement is the only thing that has kept us in the tight five club following the nuclear free moronity. This tight five alliance is the most powerful in the world and it dictates our policy positions on many things in the UN.

    This enduring alliance is of course anathema to commies like Hulun who did all she could during her time in power and before – remember she was the force behind nuclear-free – to break this alliance and tie NZ to the non-aligned nations group. It’s no surprise that Shearer, with his UN background, is also approving of the faction inside Liarbore that is angling to advance this policy. Of course, the disingenuous little pricks wouldn’t dream of making this policy public, instead they’ll pretend when they break it that the consequences are all due to the other partners being hubristic.

    A further appalling aspect of course apart from this disingenuous approach to NZ’s most critical international alliance, is the fact both Shearer and Norman are on the intelligence select committee which means they more than anyone else have a very good idea of how important this network is.

    I think Key because he doesn’t understand politics made a mistake in putting GCSB out there so it could be attacked by these political traitors. He should have just toughed out the Dotcom issue with the usual “I never comment on intelligence matters” and left it at that. But he’s politically naive, and he didn’t calculate what has happened and you can see this naivity in another security mistake he made: that of discussing SAS ops. By breaking this convention because he thought it would be sexy he again demonstrated his lack of political calculation for while it is sexy to the public, fact is, it makes both NZ and the SAS a target and sooner or later we’re going to have an attack from the Afghan terrorists simply because of the work that the SAS performed over there.

    As I’ve said before, this bill is meaningless because intelligence agencies world over do whatever it takes to gather the intel and they don’t care what the law says. Of course that will never be admitted but that’s how they all work. Dotcom happened because unfortunately, NZ didn’t follow the usual UKUSA approach which is that one of the other partners do the monitoring inside each other’s territory, and that arrangement provided the plausible deniability which has in the past been wheeled out when Dotcom-like cases arose in the past. Quite why GCSB didn’t do that this time, or why Key didn’t simply lie about it and say they did, is possibly yet again a matter that can be sheeted home to Key’s political naivity.

    But unfortunately now he’s opened Pandora’s box which can never be closed again and it’s only a matter of time before the combination of leftist political traitors and the naive public combine to decimate if not totally destroy NZ’s most critical international relationship. And just like what happened back in 1984, all of those traitors and fools will clap and cheer gleefully as the traitors rub their hands and the fools hallucinate we’ve struck a blow for fweedom. Disregarding completely the economic and geopolitical downsides that will inevitably follow. The only possible upside is China won’t be unhappy to see one partner leave UKUSA, but I bet the Chinese in the Ministry of State Security will just be shaking their heads at our immense naivity as we throw away for free the best bargaining chip we have in the upcoming negotiations for our diplomatic position in the new century as China emerges as the largest global superpower and the US wanes away.

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  14. leftyliberal (642 comments) says:

    @projectman: “The Select Committee is the formal opportunity for people to have their say. John Key did exactly the right thing in acting as facilitator (as a good chairman should), and not imposing his personal views. This is leadership.”

    A facilitator should encourage those that are giving submissions by looking interested in what they’re saying and asking questions to ensure he or she understands their perspective and has taken in the salient points. Key didn’t do this at all – the videos quite clearly show that he looks bored.

    I made no claim that Key’s personal views should have been imposed or not, as they should not be. However, by looking uninterested in the views of others, he indicates that he thinks his views are more important than those presenting submissions.

    If he’d shown a real willingness to take on board what was said, and engaged in the process then it would have gone a long way to assuring the public that their opinion matters.

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  15. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    Many people considered Key’s display at this select committee as one of disinterest and bordering on untrust worthy. Especially the ladies. and remember ladies have people radar like no man.

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  16. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    The Five Eyes aka UKUSA agreement is the only thing that has kept us in the tight five club following the nuclear free moronity. This tight five alliance is the most powerful in the world and it dictates our policy positions on many things in the UN.

    We should leave. We don’t need it, and they are torturers and human rights violators. Fuck them, and fuck their authoritarian enablers like yourself. The Five Eyes network is a gross violation of individual liberty and privacy.

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  17. Reid (15,917 comments) says:

    We should leave. We don’t need it, and they are torturers and human rights violators. Fuck them, and fuck their authoritarian enablers like yourself. The Five Eyes network is a gross violation of individual liberty and privacy.

    You’re a traitor, Tom, just like Hulun is. Congratulations. It’s people like you who grossly violate the rights of NZers to defend ourselves against our foreign and domestic enemies. And you disguise your disgusting treachery with a veneer of human wights. Some of you are so profoundly stupid that you even believe your own bullshit. But to most of us, you and your ilk are simply traitors.

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  18. Fentex (857 comments) says:

    That all reads like “Inside the beltway” nonsense – talking about perceptions and who is making a story about what rather than anything useful about an appalling policy of establishing an internal secret spy agency.

    NZ does not need a internal spy agency, such a thing is a threat to civil liberty and policing by consent as it contributes to setting government against it’s citizens.

    Talk of Labour having made a mess in 2003 in nonsense – one may disagree with the law as it was written but it was clear, it was broken, and the correct response to authoritarian impulses that breach law is to prosecute the criminal acts and not bluff legislation to further empower authoritarian practices.

    This is not an issue of left or right wing economic, education or social policies – it is an issue of fundemental commitments to principles of freedom of movement, expression and subservience of government to the public including the central tenets of rule by law.

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  19. Yoza (1,522 comments) says:

    Fentex (235) Says:
    July 20th, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    “Talk of Labour having made a mess in 2003 in nonsense – one may disagree with the law as it was written but it was clear, it was broken, and the correct response to authoritarian impulses that breach law is to prosecute the criminal acts and not bluff legislation to further empower authoritarian practices.”

    Didn’t Labour collude with National to retrospectively legalize the SIS burglary of Aziz Choudry’s house.

    In July 1996, two agents of the NZ Security Intelligence Service (SIS) were caught in the act of breaking into the Christchurch home of GATT* Watchdog activist, Aziz Choudry, during activities opposing the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade Ministers’ Meeting. Aziz sued the Government for $300,000 damages. In 1999, after a lengthy legal and political saga, the National government settled the case out of court for an undisclosed amount, plus costs, and begrudgingly apologised to Aziz (after having changed the law to legalise, including retrospectively, all SIS break-ins).

    I agree with what you are saying, I just do not believe senior figures in the Labour Party seriously want to threaten ‘our’ involvement in the five eyes protection racket.

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  20. Reid (15,917 comments) says:

    I just do not believe senior figures in the Labour Party seriously want to threaten ‘our’ involvement in the five eyes protection racket.

    Yoza don’t you think that Hulun would have got us out of it if she possibly could have? Of course she would have, every fibre of her execrable being loathes the US. The fact it didn’t happen illustrates that even if senior Liarbore figures won’t admit it in public, they know how disastrous it would be for NZ if we went the moronic route you and the other traitors would so dearly love us to take.

    And for what? Because you’re so fucked in the head you don’t understand security does matter and you think, in your roaring naivity, that the world would be much more peaceful if only we alone, going against every other country in the entire world, dropped our armour and trusted that all the nasty thugs out there would say, hey, that’s OK, we won’t hurt you. That approach might be nice in principle in lala land where everything’s pretty and the birds twitter but it doesn’t work in real life with the bully in the school playground and it doesn’t work in real life with real countries either, Yoza.

    You’d have thought that little things like WWII might have given you and your traitorous ilk a clue about how human affairs play themselves out in real life, but apparently not. Apparently you’re so profoundly fucked in the head you really do think dropping our guard really will make us more secure. Either that, or you’re totally evil and you’re just doing it, like Hulun does, because you know how dangerous it would be and you still advocate it. So which is it? Are you fucked in the head or are you totally evil?

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  21. Yoza (1,522 comments) says:

    I would be interested in knowing who you believe the ‘enemy’ is, Reid. This is pretty paranoid stuff: “…that the world would be much more peaceful if only we alone, going against every other country in the entire world, dropped our armour and trusted that all the nasty thugs out there would say, hey, that’s OK, we won’t hurt you.”

    Contrast that with, say, what the Stratfor emails reveal:

    “When it comes to geopolitical importance, it doesn’t get much f***ing lower than New Zealand,” Stratfor analyst Chris Farnham wrote to colleague William Hobart in September, Fairfax reports.
    “I mean they barely have an air force and they aren’t even an ANZUS Treaty member.”
    Mr Hobart responded: “What possible strategic use is that little part of the world to f***ing anyone??!!”

    I would agree that the world is not a peaceful place, but snuggling up to the US terror network isn’t going to make things rosier.

    “You’d have thought that little things like WWII might have given you and your traitorous ilk…

    You do know WWII was mainly about access to oil and natural resources? The Germans were in the Middle East to capture the oil fields; they invaded Russia to secure access to the Baku oil fields there. Japan was in South East Asia and the Pacific for the Indonesian oil fields, the islands and countries they invaded were required to provide airstrips and logistical supply points to defend convoys returning resources to Japan – they never intended to invade New Zealand, it would have been an unjustifiable waste of precious resources and man-power.

    We have a great natural defense with our giant moat and our complete lack of any significant resources or strategic importance contributes to snuffing out any motivating factors others might have for invading us – we would not pass any cost/benefit analysis of the return the investment in an invasion would realise.

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  22. MiniBus (6 comments) says:

    Maybe the technology is illegal under international conventions …. maybe someone (1 of the 88) knows whats happened

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  23. Mark (1,360 comments) says:

    Audrey Young has missed one important point. Key lied about his relationship and influence on the appointment of Fletcher. Now he may have had the best intentions and it may have been the right thing to do but his credibility in the eyes of those who are not ardent national supporters took a hit. After that all the good and well intentioned stuff was damaged by the.porkies. it was odd for Key because he had made an art of simply admitting the truth and shrugging it off as a so what moment. This time he caught himself out. So dpf as much as you and audry young want to spin this as a Key being hard done by it was a problem of his own making for going outside his own tried and true rule of fronting up and saying so what.

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