The Dim-Post

April 9, 2013

Yet another leak Paula Rebstock won’t be investigating

Filed under: intelligence,Politics — danylmc @ 8:37 am

Someone – almost certainly Key’s office – gave Fairfax a copy of the Kitteridge report into the GCSB:

Revelations that the secretive Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) may have spied on 85 New Zealanders illegally have been labelled “disturbing”.

The report was prepared by Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge and seen by Fairfax Media.

It was handed to Key last month but has yet to be made public.

. . . the report shows that between April 2003 and September last year, 85 New Zealanders that came under its scrutiny may have been spied on illegally.

The spying was done on behalf of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), the domestic spy agency.

Kitteridge’s 71 page report also reveals a series of failings within the bureau’s management and culture, which led to the illegal spying.

All of which makes Bruce Ferguson’s attack on Key in the Herald look awesomely ill-timed:

Former spy agency boss Sir Bruce Ferguson says Prime Minister John Key must be “smoking dope” for linking failings at the bureau to him and other former directors with a military or defence background.

It’ll be interesting to find out the nature of the people who’ve been illegally spied upon. Sure, any illegal spying is bad, but  I suspect we’ll see little – if any – spying on international terrorists or criminal masterminds who happened to have New Zealand residency, and a lot of illegal spying on members of environmental and left-wing protest groups.

Hopefully Kitteridge’s recommendations will address the lack of oversight of our intelligence services. They should be monitored by Ministers and officials at MFAT, Justice and Defense, not just the Prime Minister popping over the road once a year to see if there’s anything they should tell him.

And I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the promised reforms, overhauls etc will involve ‘punishing’ the illegal spying by making it easier for intelligence agencies to spy on residents and citizens in the future. That’s how these things usually work.

45 Comments »

  1. Watch the skeletons fall out of the closet with this one. Someone close to events should post an odds sheet on political fallout candidates.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — April 9, 2013 @ 8:41 am

  2. “and a lot of illegal spying on members of environmental and left-wing protest groups.”

    I guess agencies such as the spooks have to justify their continued funding somehow during times when there’s little else to do.

    Comment by MikeM — April 9, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  3. In jest I suggested that there might be something behind Labour’s attack on Key and Ferguson coming so readily to their assistance.

    I think that conspiracy is unlikely but it has much more substance than the daft idea that Fletcher, because of his intellectual copy right skills, got appointed to enable Key and Obama to protect Hollywood moguls.

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  4. At the very least Ferguson attack on the appointment of Fletcher was self serving.

    I wonder who tipped off Robertson.

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2013 @ 9:23 am

  5. “…Kitteridge recommends an immediate overhaul of the law covering the GCSB’s activities…”

    Since most of it’s illegal activity appears to be around the surveillance of New Zealand citizens as a part of nascent police state, The cynic in me interprets this as “change the law to make everything illegal the GCSB has done now legal.” Oh and hide it all behind a wall of secrecy.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 9, 2013 @ 9:23 am

  6. Senior sources have told the Herald that the person suspected of leaking information to Labour about that briefing – including claims Mr Key was not only briefed about the Dotcom surveillance, but joked about it – had been identified and had now “lawyered up”.

    Well, is all i can say.

    And there was that quite bizarre case of a South Island journalist claiming to have been tipped off by someone about the alleged Israeli agents in chch.

    Which turned out to be complete BS and which was all very very weird with unpleasnt overtones.

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2013 @ 9:32 am

  7. I’m not so sure about the source of the leak. Normally I’d agree with Danyl, but the PM is in China and I generally the PMO don’t want any publicity interfering with foreign trips.

    Comment by dpf — April 9, 2013 @ 9:38 am

  8. At what point does the minister in charge of this dept get called to account?

    Comment by Northshoreguynz — April 9, 2013 @ 9:52 am

  9. Geoffrey Palmer had some wise words to share on this issue that didn’t descend into petty point scoring.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — April 9, 2013 @ 10:14 am

  10. The person who chose the photos for page three of that review must’ve had it in for Helen Clark.

    Comment by izogi — April 9, 2013 @ 10:19 am

  11. The article in the Dom Post says the intelligence and security committee is considering the report next week. Perhaps it has been circulated prior to that meeting and a copy has mysteriously gone missing? Membership is the PM, the Leader of the Opposition and three MPs, two nominated by the PM and one by the Leader of the Opposition.

    Comment by Roger — April 9, 2013 @ 10:22 am

  12. dpf – where else could the report have come from given that is was commissioned by Ketteridge and was presumably classified as highly sensitive?

    It’s seems to me that it’s precisely because the PM is out of the country, that this leak occurred.

    It bolsters Key’s comments blaming the previous poor leadership of the agency while corroborating Rennie’s statements regarding Fletcher’s organisational change management chops and netralises Robertson’s and Ferguson’s comments by framing them as points scoring and sour grapes – all while being able to say “Look , I have far more important stuff to deal with here in China” when Paddy Gower starts chewing his slippers.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 9, 2013 @ 10:24 am

  13. “Former spy agency boss Sir Bruce Ferguson says Prime Minister John Key must be “smoking dope” ”

    Did anyone else reading this wonder why the former spy chief choose this precise form of words when talking about our prime minister?

    Comment by billbennettnz — April 9, 2013 @ 11:55 am

  14. Because Ferguson is an old prick?

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — April 9, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

  15. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8524181/Dotcom-Govt-should-apologise

    “A spokeswoman said from China this morning Key had no comment and he called off a planned press conference later today”

    How convinient

    Comment by max — April 9, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

  16. The Acting PM has said in Parliament the leak did not come from the PMs Office. if a staff member had leaked to Vance, then protecting a source doesn’t extend to allowing people to lie.

    Also I’d have to say that Vance would be a most unlikely journalist for the PMs Office to leak to. She has been rather critical of the PM of late.

    I’ll be as fascinated as anyone in where the leak did come from, if it is ever revealed.

    Comment by dpf — April 9, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

  17. “if a staff member had leaked to Vance, then protecting a source doesn’t extend to allowing people to lie.”

    Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Depends on the journo really. If you want an example, the Plame affair in the US.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 9, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

  18. Also I’d have to say that Vance would be a most unlikely journalist for the PMs Office to leak to.

    This implies a leak from a very highly placed disgruntled employee at the DPMC which in my mind, seems far less likely (and explainable) than some form of stalking horse play to neutralise Ferguson and pitch Fletcher.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 9, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

  19. I’d have to say that Vance would be a most unlikely journalist for the PMs Office to leak to. She has been rather critical of the PM of late.

    So if that makes it appear less likely that the leak came from the PM’s Office, what possible reason would the PM’s Office have for doing that? Because, you know, they would definitely want things to be as obvious as they appeared, so they would just leak straight to Whale Oil, wouldn’t they?

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — April 9, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

  20. Given the leak doesn’t do Labour and Ferguson much good it would make sense it came from the National came.

    But since the report was comming out today anyway I can’t see what it would achieve.

    It was interesting to see Shearer’s bluster. They really had no follow through on this issue. Much like with the smelter. No real intellectual commitment.

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

  21. But since the report was comming out today anyway I can’t see what it would achieve.

    Simple NeilM.

    A ‘leak’ vindicating the PM vs bumbling spies and the NZLP leadership is a front page splash.
    A routine report release that backs up the PM is page 3.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 9, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

  22. FYI: Fletcher is on Campbell Live tonight

    Comment by max — April 9, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

  23. ‘No real intellectual commitment’ ……NeilM hits a nail in his head again. The kind of problems identified go beyond nacty bone-pointing but what the hell, Neil’s on the job.

    Comment by paritutu — April 9, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  24. But since the report was comming out today anyway I can’t see what it would achieve.

    It wasn’t meant to come out today. English was “forced” to release the report “early” because of the “leak” to the Dom Post … coincidentally, just as Ferguson was going septic at Key.

    But no doubt the inquiry that Key orders into the source of the leak will tell us more.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 9, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  25. Those evil nacty neolib richprick money trading shylock oppressors

    Shades of duh stundurd anyone?

    Comment by Tim — April 9, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

  26. Gregor W, yes but what’s the benefit of leaking it just prior to its release? Not saying National didn’t I just can’t see the advantage.

    The way Labour is dancing round you’d think it was them that had commissioned one of the more critical and public investigations into our secret service.

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

  27. “Gregor W, yes but what’s the benefit of leaking it just prior to its release? Not saying National didn’t I just can’t see the advantage.”

    Couple of days early innit? That’s a lot of politics.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 9, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

  28. My bad, didn’t realise the leak brought forward the release. So yeah it works for National but then why not have Key back so they can optimise the politics?

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

  29. but what’s the benefit of leaking it just prior to its release?

    Because it wasn’t due out until Key got back from China … which would mean another few days taking hits from disaffected ex-GCSB folks and the opposition. However, if the govt. just came out and said “we’ve decided to release this now in order to undermine Ferguson and his criticisms of Key”, it would be seen to be directly engaging with him and his comments. And the govt doesn’t want to do this, because a direct Key vs ex-Spy fight has no upside for him. So, you “leak” the important (i.e. critical) bits to get the morning news, thus being reluctantly “forced” to officially release the full report in time to get the evening TV news … and let the media undermine Ferguson for you.

    Do you really not know how this stuff works?

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 9, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

  30. “They should be monitored by Ministers and officials at MFAT, Justice and Defense, not just the Prime Minister popping over the road once a year to see if there’s anything they should tell him.”

    Perhaps something like this: http://www.nzsis.govt.nz/about/oversight.html#inspector

    Comment by Hugh — April 9, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

  31. Shame this t-bones the labour lefty media frenzy around key huh’

    Comment by Tim — April 9, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

  32. “Do you really not know how this stuff works?”

    Yeah Jeez, did you not learn anything from H’s 1 & 2?

    Comment by Grant — April 9, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

  33. Flashing Light, Key one the spy vs PM fight with the smoking dope line. Maybe the link was intended to elicit such a response. Seems like a double cushion shot to me. I think Key just got lucky.

    But the Nats could have done the leaking there seems to have been a number of factions leaking.

    But what Key has done is undertaking a fairly robust review and looks to make some pretty major changes. That’s something one would have expected from a centre left give and perhaps if Clark had stayed around long enough she would have done so.

    But the gibberish comming from Shearer and Ribertson. I think whoever tipped them off about Fletchet did them a disservice, ultimately it was just a distraction.

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

  34. iPhones,

    “That’s something one would have expected from a centre left government…”

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

  35. This report names some people and even criticises some. Usually there is a process of offering up the paper to those mentioned for comment. It’s most likely one of these. Interesting how a representative of notoriously reticent former spy/defence chiefs suddenly pops up all over the media in a bout of finger pointing at the same time.

    This was an ex military sinecure – ex generals got GCSB and ex mfat got sis. And anyone who thinks that some of those people don’t know how to play the game haven’t been watching politics for oh, the last couple of thousand years.

    Comment by insider — April 9, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

  36. It turned into a Labour/Ferguson vs National/Fletcher old guard vs new broom showdown..

    I think Labour didn’t anticipate that and were possibly played by someone in the Ferguson camp wanting a bit of revenge for Fletcher’s reforms.

    Labour had paid little attention to these issues before being tipped off about Key’s mother being friends with someone. And now they get csught fulminating but having very little to say.

    It has become a cliche for National to blame Labour but in this instance Labour does bare some responsibility since they wrote the law which governs the GCSB and things went wrong on their watch.

    Comment by NeilM — April 10, 2013 @ 1:41 am

  37. Usually there is a process of offering up the paper to those mentioned for comment. It’s most likely one of these.

    So … one of those criticised in the paper decides to make those criticisms of themselves public just at the time that the PM is facing mounting attacks from Labour and ex-GCSB apparatchiks, thereby undermining that criticism and switching the narrative to “systemic problems” in the law and the institution?

    Yes. That is a far more likely explanation for events. But, as I’ve said before, the inquiry into the leak that the PM has announced will help sort this out. Because he has announced such a inquiry, hasn’t he? Seeing as it involves the unauthorised making public of a report into an organisation as sensitive as the GCSB.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 10, 2013 @ 7:09 am

  38. Labour had paid little attention to these issues before being tipped off about Key’s mother being friends with someone.

    If your thesis hangs on a claim that Labour had being paying no attention to the actions of the GCSB and John Key’s relationship to this prior to finding out about Fletcher, then it is so wrong as to be laughable.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 10, 2013 @ 7:15 am

  39. Labour had paid little attention to these issues before being tipped off about Key’s mother being friends with someone.

    NeilM – are you suggesting that the NZLP has had a ‘brain fade’ over the Goff stoush with GCSB in 2012 and entirely missed the Kim.com fiasco?

    Comment by Gregor W — April 10, 2013 @ 9:54 am

  40. <i<NeilM – are you suggesting that the NZLP has had a ‘brain fade’ over the Goff stoush with GCSB in 2012 and entirely missed the Kim.com fiasco?

    Pretty much yes. What have they offered? More enquiries. They’ve had the time and experience of being in govt and also wrote the current legislation but can only come up with more enquiries. All they came up with wad the Key was a “mate” of Fletcher.

    If you look at their latest press release Sheraer is even claiming that the actions of Robertson “dragged” this out of Key. This is one of those times when there is an objective truth. This review was put in place well before Robertson’s going on about things.

    Normally on these security issues intend to have some sympathy for the govt, for more so than Danyl, and had no major problem with the Ckark govt and would have not been that vertical of Labour now. After all they are not offering anything different to National, it’s just more gotcha politics.

    But this does appear to be a good time to review this area and I would have preferred a centre left party with a brain to be involved.

    Comment by NeilM — April 10, 2013 @ 11:45 am

  41. So … the real villains in this piece are the Labour Party for opposing the Government, trying to embarrass it for the failures of the organisation its leader nominally has responsibility for, and not doing the Government the courtesy of telling it how to fix the problems.

    I think you might be taking the “this is bad for David Shearer” meme just a bit too literally.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 10, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  42. Flashing Light, what’s Labour really interested in? A functioning security system or scoring points against Key?

    This issue has been around for a while, it’s their legislation and even Paul Buchanan can make actual concrete suggestions.

    Comment by NeilM — April 10, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

  43. The Greens do appear to be doing better.

    They have the advantage of a more consistent message on these sorts of issues and they deserve credit for that.

    They also have the advantage, unlike Labour, if never having been in govt. which is just luck and perhaps won’t last forever.

    Comment by NeilM — April 10, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

  44. NeilM – the NZLP are obviously only interested in points scoring, which is why it makes no sense whatsoever that they are involved in a leak that provides the PM with credibility and cover.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 10, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

  45. Gregor W, true, I’m not trying to suggest National wouldn’t be up for leaking this. It doesn’t quite make to me but its the sort of deviousness they’re quite capable of.

    Comment by NeilM — April 10, 2013 @ 12:32 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: