The Dim-Post

November 24, 2014

The Gwyn Report

Filed under: intelligence,Politics — danylmc @ 8:34 pm

This is the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security’s inquiry into how Cameron Slater obtained classified SIS documents that embarrassed then-Labour leader Phil Goff.

  • It gets released tomorrow but some media have been briefed on some of the contents, presumably by Goff.
  • So the information out there is selective. Here is a Herald article.
  • My understanding – and this could all change tomorrow when the actual report comes out – is that Tucker, the former SIS director was deeply misleading when he briefed Key’s office about what took place between him and Goff.
  • This is a big deal because Tucker has always had a somewhat sympathetic role in all of this. Goff was accusing him of lying, and so Tucker was seen to have put this information out to defend himself. But it sounds as if Tucker ommited crucial details and smeared Goff. The head of Intelligence playing politics to embarrass the opposition leader is banana republic stuff.
  • Also a really big deal: the Prime Minister appears to have lied about the role his office played in releasing the document. Here’s Key back in August before the election denying that his office had ‘anything to do with the release of the document’. And current SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge backed Key. However, the Gwyn report apparently finds that Key’s staffer Jason Ede was on the phone with Slater at the time Slater made the OIA request.
  • I guess Key had this revelation in the back of his mind when he transferred responsibility of SIS and GCSB to Finlayson. We know that Key isn’t responsible for stuff that his office does – they’re just these guys who work for him – or the stuff that Key does when he’s not Prime Minister, which is whenever he feels like it. So we’ll probably spend the next few days watching Key insist that he doesn’t have to answer any questions about this because it’s not his portfolio anymore.
  • What happens to Tucker? If the media reports are correct, it doesn’t seem right that he should be able to abuse his position, then retire and get away with it. There is a political neutrality provision in the SIS Act. I’d be interested to hear from the lawyers out there if and how this applies.
  • This is a bad time to be giving the intelligence agencies greater powers. We keep hearing about how trustworthy these secret, unaccountable agencies are, and now the former head of one of them seems to be involved in a partisan political scandal, and the current head appears to have mislead the country to try and cover-up for the Prime Minister.

18 Comments »

  1. “the Prime Minister appears to have lied about the role his office played in releasing the document”

    Be good if there’s some focus on that tomorrow.
    What is Phil de Joux up to these days?

    Comment by Sacha — November 24, 2014 @ 8:44 pm

  2. seems like ‘dodge & weave’ is becoming the new ‘smile & wave’

    Comment by John Small (@smalltorquer) — November 24, 2014 @ 8:55 pm

  3. Oh, apparently that guy has since ‘resigned’ along with Ede and Tucker.
    How utterly convenieint.

    Comment by Sacha — November 24, 2014 @ 8:55 pm

  4. ……and what reassurance do we have that Gwyn is ANY more reliable than Tucker ?? None as far as I am aware…

    Comment by Geoff — November 24, 2014 @ 9:07 pm

  5. I don’t understand any of this. Goff lied point blank and an OIA exposed him. Who cares if it was Slater knowing the right question to ask or getting the information sooner than someone else. The point of OIA’s is to show up facts vs bullshit. I am not particularly concerned if niceties were not observed. Goff chose to bullshit and the truth was uncovered. End of story

    Comment by Arkhad — November 24, 2014 @ 9:10 pm

  6. Goff said he did not recall being briefed. Tucker went to some effort to release the pre-briefing presentation, which media assume was presented.

    Comment by Sacha — November 24, 2014 @ 9:17 pm

  7. “Who cares if it was Slater knowing the right question to ask or getting the information sooner than someone else.”

    Anybody with the most basic understanding of governance and democracy.

    Comment by Sacha — November 24, 2014 @ 9:18 pm

  8. The point here is that Goff doesn’t seem to have lied, but Tucker and the PMs office selectively released information to make it look like he had

    Comment by danylmc — November 24, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

  9. Yes Arkhad, bad things were done by the party I oppose therefore I can ignore the bad things done by the party I support. No principles to worry about!

    Comment by MeToo — November 24, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

  10. “The point here is that Goff doesn’t seem to have lied, but Tucker and the PMs office selectively released information to make it look like he had”

    OK I am not up with the latest on this – if it turns out Goff didn’t ;lie but was set up to look as if he had then absolutely heads should roll.

    Comment by Arkhad — November 24, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

  11. I know Tucker a little (Lower Hutt mafia) – and of course I only ever saw him in social situations, but the thought of him acting as a partisan operative while in a position like that? It just doesn’t scan at all. I’m deeply curious to read the report and what it has to say about his role, because as you say if the version circulating this evening is correct, then it’s a really big deal and would be an indictment on him personally and the SIS institutionally. Hmmm.

    Comment by Morgan Davie — November 24, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

  12. “if it turns out Goff didn’t lie but was set up to look as if he had”

    That seems most likely when you re-watch the media from the time. What did Goff have to gain from being so adamant?

    Comment by Sacha — November 24, 2014 @ 10:18 pm

  13. Also important to remember that part of Key’s “that was my office not me” routine relies upon Tucker’s assurance that when he has been busy writing “the Prime Minister” in OIA responses he really meant “somebody in the PM’s office”.

    Doesn’t seem like Tucker is somebody we should be trusting in these issues.

    Comment by RJL — November 25, 2014 @ 7:57 am

  14. There is a political neutrality provision in the SIS Act. I’d be interested to hear from the lawyers out there if and how this applies.

    Relevant section reads:

    4AA Political neutrality of New Zealand Security Intelligence Service
    (1) The Director must take all reasonable steps to ensure that—
    (a) the activities of the Security Intelligence Service are limited to those that are relevant to the discharge of its functions:
    (b) the Security Intelligence Service is kept free from any influence or consideration that is not relevant to its functions:
    (c) the Security Intelligence Service does not take any action for the purpose of furthering or harming the interests of any political party.

    There is, however, no specific offence provision for breaching this statutory duty. Meaning that we have to fall back on s.107 of the Crimes Act:

    107 Contravention of statute
    (1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year who, without lawful excuse, contravenes any enactment by wilfully doing any act which it forbids, or by wilfully omitting to do any act which it requires to be done … .

    Of course, that would require proving that Tucker was out to nobble Goff “for the purpose of … harming the interests of [Labour]”, rather than just shafting him because he thought that Goff had dissed him personally.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 25, 2014 @ 9:47 am

  15. “part of Key’s “that was my office not me” routine relies upon Tucker’s assurance that when he has been busy writing “the Prime Minister” in OIA responses he really meant “somebody in the PM’s office”.

    Its the Wall St power games Key plays, Key is ‘unavailable’ when there is an important briefing from a head of a department he is responsible for, so Tucker is left to report to the Deputy of the Chief of Staff of the PM.

    You cant get much lower on the totem pole than this for a HoD. In response Tucker has to say “PM” in all his communications otherwise he is seen as a nobody in the beltway and everyone else will fob him off as well.

    Key is cunning as with this routine, as the mouse is all ways striving to get to the big cheese. You can just imagine the public service mandarins cooling their heels in waiting rooms just so they can report to the assistant to the deputy.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — November 25, 2014 @ 10:07 am

  16. Interesting post. In the NZ Herald article linked to, there are 2 allegations involving Key’s office (made by Phil Goff and Nicky Hager). 1) Cameron Slater received help from the Prime Ministers office in drafting the OIA request for the document (saying Goff had been briefed by the SIS). 2) John Key’s office helped get the document released early (by means other than point 1).

    This report appears to confirm allegation 1 (that Key’s office helped Slater write the OIA request). To the best of my knowledge there is no new info on allegation 2 (which both Tucker and Kitteridge support the Prime Minister in denying). To me it seems reasonable to believe that allegation 1 is correct, but allegation 2 (the most damaging one) false. If allegation 2 is false, and Key’s office had no role in the OIA request information being speedily released (besides suggesting to Slater what to write in the request) then Key may not have been lying (depending a little on the exact question asked and full quote in context), and Kitteridge did not mislead the country to try and cover up for the Prime Minister. However the info about Phil De Jou and Jason Ede playing dirty, and Tucker acting unprofessionally still stands

    Comment by Nicholas O'Kane — November 25, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

  17. Nicholas,

    According to Andrea Vance:

    “Gwyn, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, also published a transcript of a conversation between de Joux and Tucker in which they discussed the timing of the release of information to Slater.”

    Why would someone from the PM’s office be discussing with the head of the SIS the timing of any release? Surely the PM’s office would have no control over any information release by the SIS? Not in this case it seems. The SIS and PM’s office were in cahoots. As Gwynn says, political neutrality went out the window.

    Comment by Ross — November 26, 2014 @ 7:15 am

  18. John Key brings to mind the later days of Richard Nixon’s presidency just before he resigned. John Key ” can obviously do no wrong” either. So when will he do the right thing?

    Comment by A M Thom — November 26, 2014 @ 12:54 pm


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