Kitteridge’s first interview as SIS Director

The Herald reported:

If there’s one thing that irks , it is being referred to as the new head of the spy agency.

Yes, she became director of the Security Intelligence Service six months ago but it’s the spy word. It suggests the purpose of the agency is spying.

“It’s one of the things that drives me mad,” she tells the Weekend Herald.

“The purpose is security, the security of New Zealanders,” she says.

“And we have to do that by covert means because when people are planning to do ill to the country, they will try to keep that secret …

“But the purpose of it is security. The purpose of it is not to spy.”

A reasonable point that spying is the means, not the ends.

Kitteridge watched the Moment of Truth event in the Auckland Town Hall hosted by Dotcom, and featuring NSA leaker Edward Snowden via satellite from Russia, and the journalist who wrote Snowden’s story, Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald himself was of no interest in terms of security.

“He is a journalist. He has freedom of speech. He is entitled to come here and do his thing.”

But she was annoyed over the claims of mass surveillance.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s not happening, full stop. Not even mini-surveillance let alone mass surveillance.

“What I can say is I absolutely did see what was going on at GCSB and there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders.”

This has also been confirmed by the Inspector-General and the Privacy Commissioner.

She said the image of a typical SIS officer as an older man was rooted in the Cold War days when the focus was on Russian espionage, but the SIS had well and truly moved on.

And the old image was an anachronism to the reality of today’s 250 or so SIS staff with whom she meets every fortnight, including those in Auckland via video, in what she calls a town hall meeting.

“I had a town hall meeting today … What struck me is that it is not older men but young dynamic lively people, parents, people who go to the supermarket, people who go to the creche.

While it is an offence to identify any SIS officer except the Director, maybe the annual report could include some demographic information of the SIS workforce. My rare dealings with SIS staff had all been older males, but this was some time ago.

What happened in Canada last week — a soldier deliberately run down by a car and another soldier shot while standing guard at a memorial in Ottawa — was one of the main issues.

She said it was a wake-up call because New Zealanders saw Canada as “quite like us” and it was disturbing in that such situations would be very difficult to stop.

This is where she talks about “crowd-sourced terrorism”, a new term to describe lone-wolf acts of terrorism conducted by people who show no intent, after exhortation by Isis on the internet.

“What [Isis] is doing is they are sending out this material which is awful, it’s all on the internet … urges people to do small-scale attacks that are not complicated, that don’t require planning, that don’t require anything fancy, nothing more than a knife or a car or something you can light a fire with that will cause the maximum fear and devastation and havoc and loss of life.

“That is the explicit message and it is to attack the West.”

All that that was needed was intent. Capability was not difficult to put together and the whole purpose was to create a sense of terror in the population.

“I think that whole model of crowd-sourced terrorism that is actually very dispersed and where any individual can do it and they are not concerned about their own life is a very disturbing change.”

Crowd-sourced terrorism. If it catches on, it will be incredibly challenging for the reasons cited – no great capacity for planning and execution needed.

Comments (35)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment

%d bloggers like this: