The Dim-Post

December 20, 2010

Question of the day

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 12:27 pm

Tracy Watkins excerpts another Wikileaks cable:

Senior MOD officials (strictly protect) tell us it was not until Finance Minister Michael Cullen pointed out in a subsequent Cabinet meeting that New Zealand’s absence from Iraq might cost NZ dairy conglomerate Fonterra the lucrative dairy supply contract it enjoyed under the United Nations Oil for Food program, that the prime minister found a face-saving compromise and sent combat engineers in a non-combat role to Basra, where they were embedded with British forces. “By then, however, the prime minister had so stirred up anti-war sentiment that she had to expend a lot of political capital to get Caucus and Cabinet support for this time-limited deployment

Can someone explain to me the difference between a senior defence official named as a protected source by a foreign embassy who briefs them on confidential cabinet decisions, and a spy?


  1. It’s only confidential from the New Zealand public, not from the US State Department. A spy would be leaking to our enemies, not the Government’s boss.

    Comment by Steve — December 20, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  2. fawning and ingratiating behaviour isn’t spying Danyl.

    Comment by che tibby — December 20, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

  3. Spying, by which (for these purposes I will assume you mean espionage) requires both an intent to prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand and likely prejudice to the security or defence of New Zealand.

    A similar element arises in respect of the less serious offence of wrongful communication of official information.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — December 20, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

  4. Everyone knows you can tell a spy as they wear trench coats and dark glasses, whereas strictly protected senior MOD officials simply wear long coats and sun glasses!

    Comment by Justin — December 20, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

  5. On the contrary Che, all you’re describing is potential motive. Doesn’t stop it from being espionage. They were acting as spies—at the very least being used as spies—and they should be found and kindly relieved of their duties.

    Steve’s explanation about sums it up nicely.

    Comment by Christiaan — December 20, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

  6. Graeme, a case could be made that this information prejudiced the security of NZ. Intent of course would be a different matter.

    Now leaking it would have been the far more ethical thing to do. That may have actually helped NZ security; it might have stopped NZ being involved in a war of aggression.

    Comment by Christiaan — December 20, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

  7. Probably something like in Australia where at least one Senator plotted at the US embassy for a year to overthrow our recently elected Prime Minister would count though….

    Comment by Dean Procter — December 20, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

  8. Interesting. The MOD will almost certainly be able to determine who the official(s) is and I wonder how they will be dealt with. Harshly methinks.

    Danyl, does this mean that you are now back from your break? No pressure of course.

    Comment by DT — December 20, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  9. I’m surprised there has not been more discussion about wikileaks relating to New Zealand. I think the reason is the MSM need a simple ‘shock/horror/scandal’ story whereas most of the leaks really just dd insight into the some of the political decisions that have been made.

    The problem with most blogs discussing wikileaks is kiwiblog or (for that matter The Standard) operate on a simple ‘1000 reasons to hate Labour’ (or National) and so in-depth reasoned discussion just doesn’t happen.

    That just leaves the Dim-Post……..

    Comment by ieuan — December 20, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

  10. That is twice that labour have forgotten principles to keep agriculture going. You would think the farmers would be more grateful on polling day.

    Comment by Barnsley Bill — December 20, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

  11. Danyl
    The colonels of the old world armies have their own agenda regardless of who their political masters happen to be.They dine together on a regular basis and share gossip and form attitudes toward policies of their respective governments(The NZ defence forces are still chafing at their being consigned to the margins and excluded from some aspects of these discussons since the sutch affair and the nuclear free “debacle”and jump at any chance to point out that nz politicans are guided more bt by domestic political considerations than moral ones).If you are discussing such matters with your peers you are simply informing your fellow board members, and how they use that information in their sphere of influence are their management responsibilities. You cannot regard this as spying it is simply good management.Oh and I don’t believe conspiracy theories.

    Comment by russell — December 20, 2010 @ 5:00 pm

  12. Can someone explain to me the difference between a senior defence official named as a protected source by a foreign embassy who briefs them on confidential cabinet decisions, and a spy?

    Just like ‘sex by surprise’ its all about the moment, did he? didn’t he? did it break? or Leak it? I say SPY(but the cool Jason Bourne type-not pre cold war bad guy types as we are all goooooood friends remember(See Condi rice))!

    As BB says, this is good for Phil Goff. He looks like a moderate compared to Keys sycophancy in need of a photo op!

    /[Thankful for opportunity to snark]

    Comment by andy (the other one) — December 20, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

  13. Perhaps it’s akin to the cabinet minister who blurts hitherto confidential remarks made by leaders of the opposition during private discussions with diplomats?

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — December 20, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

  14. Mein Gott! Adolf is still in his groenhaus throwing stones.
    I thought we were in the 21st century.


    Comment by peterlepaysan — December 20, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

  15. Peterlepaysan, do you wake up every morning laughing at your own dreams?

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — December 20, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

  16. Can someone explain to me the difference between a senior defence official named as a protected source by a foreign embassy who briefs them on confidential cabinet decisions, and a spy?

    The way I read the situation, it actually seems to be described arse-about-face. It’s not really a case of spying, since the US was in negotiation with the cabinet, through intermediaries.

    The US Consulate says “no NZ troops in Iraq and therefore no NZ trade deals in Iraq.”

    So they take that news back to the cabinet and say “gee, maybe we can rustle up some support troops”. If they had kept that news (being essentially a reply) “confidential” from the US, then you can’t actually be negotiating, and that’s exactly what it seemed to have been.

    So the more relevant issue is did we get any business out of the oil for food program, or did the Australian Wheat Board clean it all up? (Aside from the money Saddam skimmed)

    Comment by ZenTiger — December 20, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

  17. Oh what a tangled web we weave
    When we first practise to deceive……

    Comment by peterlepaysan — December 20, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

  18. I can’t get over the number of government officials who regard their loyalty to the American project as more important than their loyalty to their country. Colonial cringe, settler mentality, client state toadyism or simple traitors – however you wish to label it, have our government officials really progressed that much since they joyfully let Britain declare war on our behalf in 1914?

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 21, 2010 @ 8:21 am

  19. So many of these so called cables are fake it’s not funny.

    Everyone knows that government employees are a bunch of fellow travelling Gramscian do no gooders marching through the institutions in a single minded pursuit of my bodily fluids. This is just more disnformation people. Don’t believe a word of it.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — December 21, 2010 @ 11:22 am

  20. Ministry of Womens Affairs are after our fluids? It’s worse than we thought!

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 21, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  21. The following is an actual, god as my fucking witness, letter to the editor published on the tenth of december in this the 2010th year of my good lord has it been that long.


    Regarding the article about “lots of sex helps you to live longer” (has this been scientifically proven?) I will say the opposite is the truth.

    Sperm is the most precious substance and if not wasted becomes a blessing till middle age for men.

    I see men who, at a glance, I can tell through the texture of their skin may have over-indulged.

    Believe it or not when the cleanirig lady asked this morning how old I am the answer is I am 93.

    JAMES MAXWELL Pleasant Point

    ‘best troll eva’, is what I tell myself, to stave of fear of pleasant point, which sounds like a nice enough place. In a Stephen King kind of way.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — December 21, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

  22. “I see your point,” said the cleaning lady, “but I can’t quite bring myself to grasp it, as I fear it may come to a sticky end.”

    Comment by joe W — December 21, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

  23. I can picture Mr Maxwell in his front parlour, peering through his curtains at the darkies next door, typing letters to the editor and peeling the labels from bottles of ginger ale.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 22, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  24. … all the while whispering, “It rubs the lotion on its skin”.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — December 22, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

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