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.