The Dim-Post

August 16, 2013

All glory to the hypnotoad

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 11:00 am

Russell Brown attributes John Key’s triumph debating the GCSB bill on Campbell Live as ‘a study in media training’. The sentiment seems to be widespread among the left, including with John Campbell.

I thought the PM addressed Campbell’s questions very directly. His success wasn’t about any kind of media training Jedi mind trick, so much as it was about the PM enjoying a huge strategic advantage over John Campbell. Campbell Live had done clips on the GCSB bill all week. Key’s team knew exactly what their objections to it were. All they had to do was have a couple of people from their comms team watch each episode, break down each issue and craft a rebuttal.

Unfortunately (for the PM) they don’t seem to have run their rebuttal past anyone with legal knowledge of the bill, which means that while the PM was wiping the floor with Campbell he was also incorrect/lying on a pivotal point. Via the Herald:

In the course of the interview [Key] said incorrectly that under the bill, the GCSB would not be allowed to look at the content of communications when conducting their cyber-security functions.

In fact, there is nothing that prevents it from doing so. But what Mr Key is now saying is that in exercising his power to impose any conditions he wants on a warrant, he will use his discretion to set the default position not looking at content in the cyber-security function.

Which is just stupid. The PM can’t grant himself the power to secretly spy on people and simply promise not to use it, if only because he isn’t going to be Prime Minister in perpetuity. Key keeps warning us that Labour and the Greens are ‘the devil-beast’. Well if Winston Peters walks in front of a bus the devil-beast will probably in government in about fourteen months, and able to intercept the emails of New Zealanders with impunity.

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23 Comments »

  1. If Winston Peters walks in front of a bus the bus would simply bounce off…

    Comment by PPCM — August 16, 2013 @ 11:17 am

  2. Reading the transcript a lot of what John Key says feels like a prepared speech – the use of lists, the homely anecdotes, coming in with the number of snapper vs GCSB submissions… They’ve employed nearly 40 people on very large salaries to work as media advisers and press secretaries, and I don’t believe for a second that Key, or the party, is stupid enough not to have utilized them.

    Comment by Dovil — August 16, 2013 @ 11:29 am

  3. The PM can’t grant himself the power to secretly spy on people and simply promise not to use it, if only because he isn’t going to be Prime Minister in perpetuity.

    That’s easy. When John Key isn’t PM anymore, then this law becomes a draconian affront to civil liberties that needs to be amended (if not repealed) as a matter of urgency. Kiwiblog will tell you what you need to think.

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 16, 2013 @ 11:33 am

  4. The Herald is incorrect, again. Why can’t theMSM actually get their facts correct or does it get in the way of their agenda.

    Comment by David — August 16, 2013 @ 11:58 am

  5. It is far from accepted the Herald is right and the PM is wrong. As I understand it the argument from the PMO is that you have to read three sections together, and that a warrant can only be issued for an approved purpose, and reading communications is not an approved purpose but cyber-security is, so a warrant can not legally be granted under the cybersecurity section to intercept communications and read them.

    That is what the PMO told the Herald, and the Herald have interpreted that as the PM saying he will choose not to grant warrants. Again, AFAIK that is not what they are arguing.

    I have no inside knowledge on this – have just read another article on this somewhere. But basically don’t accept the Herald’s assertions as uncontested fact (or the PM’s of course).

    Comment by dpf — August 16, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

  6. DPF: wait, isn’t the whole point of this process to make the legislation clear so we don’t have the GCSB accidentally breaking the law again?

    Comment by xy — August 16, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

  7. Prime Minister Russel Norman: “That may be one legal interpretation, I have another. So Farrar stays on the interception list, which may or may not exist, and which I may or may not see. I’m not at liberty to say why.”

    No worries, national security, it’s all good.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — August 16, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

  8. My reading is that under cybersecurity they have access to infrastructure, so certainly metadata (who’s emailing who, who’s calling who, what time, what duration etc.) There’s no distinction between metadata and content for content under cybersecurity (8A) that I can see, though there’s some discussion in 15A regarding the PM discussing things with the Foreign Affairs minister.

    There is a distinction under 8B for GSCB spying on NZers under their own steam (requires a warrant from the PM + Commissioner of Security Warrants (CSW)) though foreigners are fair game, and under 8C for assistance by GSCB to Police/SIS (again a warrant from the PM and CSW).

    One of the worries is that section 25 allows incidental intelligence (e.g. collected under 8A cybersecurity) to be used for other stuff (presumably once you have a warrant?)

    Clear as mud.

    Comment by lefty — August 16, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

  9. (presumably once you have a warrant?)

    Oh that cheered me up.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 16, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

  10. Suggest you read James Bamford’s article (They Know Much More Than You Think) in the current New York Review of Books. Do we really want to be alinged with that??

    Comment by amthom — August 16, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

  11. Interesting that Key is spinning this GCSB Bill as all about cyber-security; protecting us little defenceless Kiwis from the nasty bogeyman of intl cyber terrorists. When the primary purpose of the Bill is to open up spying on NZers – nothing to do with the lesser purpose of cybersecurity.

    Of course, like all reputable pollsters, I have not received any briefing from the National Party to point this out to ensure the news reflects the desired reality of the DPMC; I just read it on some other uncited media source ;)

    Comment by bob — August 16, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

  12. “Interesting that Key is spinning this GCSB Bill as all about cyber-security; protecting us little defenceless Kiwis from the nasty bogeyman of intl cyber terrorists. When the primary purpose of the Bill is to open up spying on NZers – nothing to do with the lesser purpose of cybersecurity.”

    Frank Macskasy believes the real reason for beefing up the GCSB is the MAFIAA.

    Comment by DeepRed — August 17, 2013 @ 12:51 am

  13. Oh look it’s a gaggle of tinfoil hat wearers aka Frank Macskasy readers.

    Comment by toby — August 17, 2013 @ 4:48 am

  14. wait, isn’t the whole point of this process to make the legislation clear so we don’t have the GCSB accidentally breaking the law again?

    Yes. They are replacing a silly clause that said the GCSB can’t spy on NZers with a 3-clause triple bankshot that the PM will say something about in parliament. What was said in parliament about that original clause back in 2003 again? Irrelevant! Look over there it’s a Yemeni blimp!

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — August 17, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  15. Danyl, having repeatedly castigated politicians for poor media management, it seems odd that you’re now dismissing good media management as obfuscation.

    Comment by Hugh — August 17, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

  16. @toby #13: Don’t suppose you happen to have any Sharia-Marxist invasion plan documents by chance?

    Comment by DeepRed — August 17, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

  17. Red, I don’t know what disturbs me more, the fact you read macskasy or that you can imagine to construct an attempted sledge around sharia-marxism.

    Comment by toby — August 18, 2013 @ 3:09 am

  18. @Hugh,

    He’s not. He’s saying that Key did a very good job of explaining the legislation by responding to the various concerns raised about it. Which is what politicians ought to be able to do.

    Except for the bit where he appears to have misstated the actual legal effect of the Bill at issue. And I don’t think “good media management” encompasses “telling lies (consciously or otherwise) about the issue”.

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 18, 2013 @ 8:42 am

  19. @Toby – Macskasy is actually well known for building an argument using documentable evidence. You see, when you don’t rely on ad-hom attacks, it comes in handy to have something backing your points up.

    Comment by alex — August 18, 2013 @ 11:45 am

  20. @alex – Toby isn’t here for “building an argument using documentable evidence”. He’s here because he’s “funny” and “clever”. And he knows he is, because the mirror tells him so.

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 18, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

  21. Actually ‘Frank’ is known for documenting an endless list of facts before sneaking in a set of semi related arguments that support a predetermined tinfoil hat wearing conclusion following such lucid luminaries as Erich von Daniken.

    Comment by toby — August 19, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

  22. The latest Roy Morgan spells out why Key – arrogantly dismissive of Rebecca Wright earlier in the week – suddenly decided to appear on Campbell live. Curia’s polling would have told him and his comms team that public opinion was shifting alarmingly against the government in key swing voter segments. Up until then, National were confident views on the issue were cleaving along party political lines. But clearly, swing voters are starting to make the GCSB bill a vote changing issue and Key was told to spend some his political capital on doing something about it. Key’s tactic were dictated not so much wanting to rebut the criticisms of the bill than to simply shut down the debate. The whole government communications apparatus has gone into shut down mode on the GCSB bil. David Farrar prefers to discuss tampons and student politics while strenuously ignoring the political current issue of the day gripping the country. National will pass the pass the bill and then refuse to discuss it anymore. the media will get bored and move on to the next political race meeting.

    However, it seems the anti-GCSB bill movement is building a head of steam. Politically Key’s assurance that we should just trust him was intended to be one way bet of an around the barbie moment of faith between him and his middle class base. It is now in danger of becoming the moment when, for the first time, There was an awkward silence.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 20, 2013 @ 9:35 am

  23. Yes that’s working for the left in polls allright buddyhttp://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9066577/Bold-policy-fails-to-grab-new-support-for-Labour

    Comment by toby — August 21, 2013 @ 8:20 am


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