The Dim-Post

October 20, 2012

GCSB tape revisionism

Filed under: intelligence,Politics — danylmc @ 6:33 am

The conventional wisdom is setting in around David Shearer’s GCSB tape adventure – that it was a tactical blunder, that he shouldn’t have said anything unless he had the alleged tape, that he’s been set up by disloyal MPs and staffers, that Fran Mold should resign etc.

But if you step back and take a look at what Labour had, and what the PM has conceded regards the tape, it was actually pretty damn good. We have Key admitting that he made a speech to the GCSB, that he may have referred to Kim Dotcom, that there was a camera in the room – but apparently it wasn’t turned on – that there was an exhaustive search for this footage before the story broke, and there are (undenied) allegations that hard-drives were removed and wiped.

Put all that together and it sounds as if there was a tape, that the PM did mention Dotcom, and that there’s been a cover-up and the tape was erased. Either that or the PM has been the victim of a pretty incredible set of coincidences to make it look like he’s lied and then ordered his spy agency to cover it up.

Either way, that’s good stuff for an opposition leader. It worked out badly for Shearer because he’s a bad politician, but it was tactically sound.

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21 Comments »

  1. It worked out badly for Shearer because he’s a bad politician…

    He is astonishingly bad at the game political journalists like to make out of politics. When Hooton was claiming on one of your earlier posts that Shearer was toast unless he actually had the tape, it seemed ridiculous – the claim had been only that a tape might exist, and its potential existence was enough to force the PM to backtrack to avoid being caught out in a lie. That’s a pretty good story and it should’t have been hard to keep it the story. But it turns out Hooton does get to say “I told you so,” almost entirely due to Shearer being unable to play the game.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — October 20, 2012 @ 6:54 am

  2. Put me down as favouring coincidences.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — October 20, 2012 @ 8:03 am

  3. ” It worked out badly for Shearer because he’s a bad politician, but it was tactically sound.”
    Is that necessarily a bad thing. Three of the best politicians I can think of were terrible for the majority of their populations. Muldoon, Thatcher, and Reagan.

    Comment by Stephen Doyle — October 20, 2012 @ 9:22 am

  4. As someone who’s been around the game of politics for a while I’m strongly of the view that it was not tactically sound. When I saw the allegations break a lot of people asked me about it and I assured them he would have the tape. It was far too high risk a strategy to do this without a tape as the first thing the media would ask was ‘so where’s the tape?’. My assumption was Shearer had a brilliant strategy of demanding Key release the tape, having Key refuse to release it from his own department, then slowly draining Key’s credibility until releasing the tape himself at the time of maximum pain.

    You can only judge the tactical soundness of a play based on the rules of the game. And the rules of the game say that fact he didn’t have the tape meant this outcome was inevitable.

    Comment by Michael Davis — October 20, 2012 @ 9:41 am

  5. I see that as win,because of key’s guilt and because he wasn’t sure that someone
    had a copy or not ,he had to admit the 29th meeting and reference to dotcom,there was
    a sweep of all techy things, workers took servers etc home to cleanse them or rid them
    of data,as seen on tv3, returning to work carrying the parts.
    Key and co might call for enquiries but those enquiries are always ‘inside’ jobs to protect
    any fallout leading back to key himself.( power’s involvment cannot be underestimated)
    Only a totally independant enquiry will uncover the real truth,that is if all the information
    hasn’t been made ‘secret’ under orders from key or his office.
    Trust is the big thing that is lost with this nact govt and if shearer can come in an bring
    back some trust in nz politics then that can only be a good thing for all nz’ers,but there
    is a worry among alot of leftists that he is like bill rowling,phil goff etc and we know how
    that turned out, that’s the fear and nz so badly needs these nact robbers out of office,
    right now.

    Comment by anne — October 20, 2012 @ 9:56 am

  6. The way his Mp’s answered the media questions about the tape basically left Shearer out to dry.

    Comment by A Voice Today — October 20, 2012 @ 10:57 am

  7. “It worked out badly for Shearer because he’s a bad politician, but it was tactically sound.” – there’s a contradiction in that statement. Your tactics must be informed by your resources. Peters could have carried off such a tactic, Shearer couldn’t so it never should have been pursued by him and his staff.

    Besides, they never had to allege the existence of the tape, just that Key joked about Dotcom with GCSB in February, then there would have been no backlash on Shearer to present evidence he claims existed and the focus would have stayed on Key.

    Comment by Deano — October 20, 2012 @ 11:21 am

  8. YEAH YEAH Shearer made a blunder but he is still a novice.
    The fact remains that Key is still a fucking liar.

    Comment by frank_db — October 20, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

  9. A reasonable case for the defence, Danyl.

    I really dislike the modern version of “can’t attack the King, so attack the courtiers instead”. It happens with Key, happened with Goff, now it’s Shearer. Ever since Karl Rove got a frat boy into the White House there’s been a widespread myth that it’s all about the puppet-masters. “Blame Fran Mold, not poor David Shearer!”. Are our expectations of leaders so low that we must absolve them from basic errors of judgement?

    Shearer lacks a simple awareness of his own strengths and weaknesses (Strengths – unsullied, decent bloke, political virgin … Weaknesses – everything else). Now he has tarnished his Strength, and highlighted his Weakness. It’s not for his advisers to tell him the solution. It’s for the Labour caucus. Soon, please.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — October 20, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

  10. Hooton does get to say “I told you so,” almost entirely due to Shearer being unable to play the game.

    Nup. Hooton gets to say “I told you so” entirely due to his own risible need to attempt to make the issue of a blatantly lying Prime Minister less important than an alleged “bungle” by an opposition MP. The tragegy is that anyone would take such bottom-of-the-barrel political desperation seriously, but after the Orewa One example, nothing surpriises…..

    Comment by ak — October 20, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  11. What I find interesting is the quiet panic that ensued at the word ‘tape’. So what did John Key *think* he said at the meeting – which he doesn’t quite remember – that had him worried?

    Comment by Ataahua — October 20, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  12. It was a massive blunder by Shearer in jumping the gun (if he wanted to rush out with it, he probably should have passed it on to Peters) before he had any tangible evidence. That said, I don’t think National’s really gained a lot out of it, having failed to make hay out of the situation and it being overshadowed by the WINZ kiosk fiasco plus subsequent fall-out alongside the accusations of Key having another brain fade.

    Maybe there’s also the sense that Shearer’s claim later on that the GCSB destroyed the tape isn’t entirely far-fetched, however unlikely it may seem and it did the job in making Key look sleazy.

    All it will really do is cost Shearer the leadership, replacing him with someone more suitable for the job (Robertson or Cunliffe).

    Comment by Chris S — October 20, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  13. It doesn’t really matter about Shearer being premature with it, telling us there’s a tape when he hasn’t personally got a copy hidden in a safe in his own residence. These things are hit-and-miss, he’s relying on information from others and people should understand that. The whole Shearer issue is an offshoot, a distraction, from the real issue here. If the media and public as a whole weren’t so sceptical and politically correct these days, we’d all just continue to be focused on the real issues surrounding this scandal.

    Comment by Dan — October 20, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  14. > he had to admit the 29th meeting and reference to dotcom

    But Key had already admitted as much, hadn’t he? That was why he had to correct an earlier answer in Parliament – the GCSB had informed him that he’d met with them on Feb 29. I am not sure why the issue of the tape was ever raised because Key had acknowledged that he might have mentioned Dotcom. Let’s say a tape actually existed and that Key did refer to Dotcom. If the tape were released, Key would simply shrug his shoulders and say “I told you so”. I don’t see how the tape – even if it existed – was ever going to help Labour…

    Comment by Ross — October 20, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

  15. Key’s argument started as “I didn’t know nothing about no GCSB until the 17th of September, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” Shortly afterwards, it became “I guess Dotcom did get mentioned at the Leap Day briefing, but I don’t recall anything.” He could argue that he either blanked during that presentation for XX minutes out of YY minutes, during which coincidentally Dotcom did get mentioned, so unfortunately he remained unaware. Of course, this would then raise significant questions about Key’s competence and whether or not he could be relied on to handle a portfolio like Intelligence, but let’s put that aside from now. If then a tape did emerge where Key audibly or visibly made reference to Dotcom at a briefing where we know he came up, it suggests Key was paying attention and since according to the video on the Herald website where he talks about the raid on the 24th of January (link at bottom of this post), he was clearly clued up on Dotcom’s residency status, it then makes it hard to deny that he not only knew of the GCSB’s illegal activities, but was also complicit in it.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/video.cfm?c_id=1&gal_objectid=10781209&gallery_id=123534

    Comment by Chris S — October 20, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

  16. it was tactically sound.

    says a lot about the state of NZ politics when the leader of the main supposedly centre-left party is praised for being “tactically sound” when they make allegations with absolutely no proof.

    Comment by NeilM — October 20, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

  17. says a lot about the state of NZ politics …when they (sic) make allegations with absolutely no proof….
    says a lot about the state of NZ politics when the campfollowers of the main supposedly centre-right party ignore that his allegations were based on assertions by witnesses who clained to be present and who further alleged the existence of video evidence….

    Comment by paritutu — October 21, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  18. Nice try Dan but this was a Labour epicfail.com

    Comment by Bob — October 22, 2012 @ 8:47 am

  19. Saying this is “tactically souind” is like a squad coming back from patrol and,having lost half their number including their leader in the firefight, saying the patrol was a success because they think they may have inflicted a flesh wound on the opposing forces leader.

    Comment by Rab — October 23, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  20. It saddens me to strongly disagree with your view Danyl. Unless and until Shearer had something that was compelling and undeniable, it was always open to the government to spin it as this years H Fee. I might be entirely wrong, and as I often do, I”ll plead a defence of distance, but this has been a distraction.

    Comment by Paul Williams (@psbwilliams) — October 23, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

  21. “But if you step back and take a look at what Labour had, and what the PM has conceded regards the tape, it was actually pretty damn good. We have Key admitting that he made a speech to the GCSB, that he may have referred to Kim Dotcom, that there was a camera in the room – but apparently it wasn’t turned on – that there was an exhaustive search for this footage before the story broke, and there are (undenied) allegations that hard-drives were removed and wiped.”

    Spot on.

    We also see Key’s hypocrisy in the way he treated the ‘Teapot Tape’ recording and the ‘tearoom tape’ “non-recording”…

    “says a lot about the state of NZ politics when the leader of the main supposedly centre-left party is praised for being “tactically sound” when they make allegations with absolutely no proof.” – Comment by NeilM

    Really, Neil? So the Opposition cannot raise questions? Remember that when National is back in Oppositiion after the next election.

    Comment by Frank Macskasy — October 26, 2012 @ 12:23 pm


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