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.