The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn has commenced an inquiry into the way the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) considers undertaking foreign intelligence activities.
The inquiry is in response to issues recently raised around a Minister of the Crown’s bid to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
“I consider the issues raised about the process followed when the GCSB considers undertaking particular intelligence activity are of sufficient public importance to warrant an own motion inquiry,” Ms Gwyn said.
“While it is unlikely that I will be able to publicly confirm or deny the specific allegations relating to this process, I can inquire more generally into how the GCSB determines, within its statutory constraints, what intelligence activity to undertake and what policies and procedures are in place to regulate its activities.” …
The Inspector-General will approach the inquiry in terms of the following questions:
how the GCSB determines whether proposed foreign intelligence activity falls within its statutory functions and within New Zealand’s particular intelligence requirements;
whether and how the GCSB assesses the benefits and risks of the proposed activity;
where there may be any issue of potential or perceived political advantage, how the GCSB identifies and manages any issue that may arise from its duty of political neutrality; and
how the GCSB keeps the responsible Minister(s) and the Commissioner of Security Warrants informed, and ensures effective ministerial oversight, particularly where the proposed activity involves a potentially contested assessment of the international relations and well-being and/or the economic well-being of New Zealand.
We have a strong system of checks and balances. The Inspector-General has shown a pro-active approach to her job, which was the intention of the recent law changes and increased resourcing. Her review is welcome.