Via Andrea Vance, who is probably developing a healthy paranoia at about this point:
The Government is to beef up laws to allow the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders – including to protect private companies.
Prime Minister John Key yesterday announced sweeping changes in response to a scathing review of the Government Communications Security Bureau that found it had illegally spied on more than 80 people.
He said the security threat was low but claimed there had been attempts to use New Zealand technology to build weapons of mass destruction.
“There have been cyber intrusions in New Zealand and we believe that the basis of those intrusions has been to retrieve information that could be used in the creation of weapons of mass destruction.”
Individuals here were funding, or had links to, overseas terror groups, he said.
Let’s game this out. Say you’re John Key, you want these law changes, the opposition has called for an inquiry into Intelligence, and you genuinely believe that there are serious attempts to develop weapons of mass destruction using New Zealand technology. Why don’t you just agree to the inquiry? No QC or Governor General or former civil-servant, or whoever ends up running it is going to ignore a serious, legitimate plot to aquire WMDs. If the threat is real they’ll almost certainly recommend the same changes Key wants to make, and he’d get to score a victory over his opponents instead of spend political capital pushing through changes that make it look as though he’s engaged in a cover-up.
So why wouldn’t he do that? Probably because he’s involved in a cover-up, thus the WMD card which is synonymous with political deception. Is the claim even remotely credible? Consider this Herald story from 2009:
The Security Intelligence Service has approached university lecturers asking for help to stop foreign states gathering information on “weapons of mass destruction”, says the union representing tertiary workers.
Dr Ryan said the letter to universities alludes to a meeting between the spy agency and the New Zealand Vice Chancellor’s Committee.
He said the SIS has also sent out a brochure called “A Guide to Weapons of Mass Destruction: Your role in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction”.
Dr Ryan said the brochure warns scientists and researchers to look out for people who could be trying to learn how to make “weapons of mass destruction”.
He said the pamphlet has been distributed widely and includes fax, email, and web contacts for the SIS.
“If any tertiary staff member sees something they suspect is illegal they should contact the police. Otherwise their job is to advance and share knowledge; it is not to create an atmosphere where colleagues and students don’t know whether they are being spied on or not. That can only inhibit genuine education and research,” said Dr Ryan.
Who wants to bet that this is the SIS’s critical operation against foreign acquisition of WMD technology case that the PM is citing? I’d put money on that, and also that the reason we aren’t getting an independent report is because said QCs – or whoever heads it – will just spray their coffee all over the rest of the committee with laughter when it’s used as a justification to increase the powers of the GCSB.