The Dim-Post

November 25, 2014

A further thought on the Gwyn report

Filed under: intelligence,Politics — danylmc @ 1:25 pm

The report itself is here. The main issues have been well covered by the media.

Here’s what struck me. One of Key’s big achievements as Prime Minister has been the expansion of the size and powers of the state security services. That’s fine. There’s been plenty of debate around that. The public seem ‘relaxed’ about it.

But what we didn’t know is that the same time Key was expanding the powers of the intelligence agencies he also – as revealed in the Gwyn report – delegated over-sight of those agencies to National Party operatives working in his office, a role that had previously been exclusive to the Prime Minister. And, the Gwyn report goes on to tell us:

 . . . as part of his role as Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr de Joux was involved in
the media work of PMO, as was Mr Ede, who was also a political adviser.
Consistent with those roles, Mr de Joux and Mr Ede treated information that they
were given as available for release for political purposes unless they had been
advised otherwise. This was contrary to the assumption by NZSIS that the
information that it provided would be held in confidence unless expressly
approved for release.

Also, too:

I issued a production order to Mr Ede in
respect of his personal email accounts after it became apparent from evidence,
including evidence provided directly by Mr Ede, that some of the correspondence
pertinent to this inquiry was conducted from non-official email accounts. Upon receipt
of the production order, Mr Ede provided a supplementary written statement to the
inquiry in which he advised that the emails had been permanently deleted prior to the
commencement of the inquiry and could not be recovered. I made my own enquiries
and confirmed this was the case.

If staff in Key’s office are using non-official accounts like this then they’re breaching the Public Records Act, and should be prosecuted. If they are, or were exchanging classified information on non-official accounts then that’s, like, an actual major national security issue. I don’t know who investigates these matters but they’re pretty important no matter which political tribe you support. Unless everyone on the right is totally cool with the SIS and GCSB reporting to Matt McCarten in a couple years, and McCarten forwarding it all onto Bomber?

Seems that this is also a pretty big victory for Nicky Hager. This was one of the key claims in his book, and Key flatly denied it and called Hager a crazy conspiracy theorist. We now know that this accusation stands up. Key isn’t admitting that, of course. He’s running around crowing that he’s been exonerated, somehow, because he knows that virtually no member of the public will read the report. But this is a stain on his record as Prime Minister. Historically he’ll be the guy whose office collaborated with the SIS to falsely smear the opposition leader.

26 Comments »

  1. And at the same time Archives NZ and the Chief Archivist have been neutered…. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a public statement by the CA.

    Comment by MeToo — November 25, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

  2. Key’s only values are those of a corporate oligarch, and that comes with a concomitant contempt for democratic mores, conventions and values.

    It is crystal clear that John Key considers the SIS to be his personal business intelligence unit with the National Party corporation that runs NZ as a wholly owned subsidary.

    Using a third party party stooge using non-secure HTML email accounts to give plausible deniability at an arms length from the corporation comms department is all part of the warp and woof of the two tier smear machine.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 25, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

  3. >If they are, or were exchanging classified information on non-official accounts then that’s, like, an actual major national security issue.

    It’s certainly highly unethical, even if not technically illegal. I’m not saying it isn’t illegal, I don’t really know – which part of the Public Records Act do you mean? But being pretty much caught red-handed behaving in the manner that the report makes it very plain that Ede did behave in, is extremely unethical and something the PM must be desperate to distance himself from. It’s more than “not a good look”. It’s “looks really crooked” or even “speaks with forked tongue”.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 25, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

  4. falsely smear the opposition leader

    Does the report uphold Goff’s view that he wasn’t briefed?

    Comment by NeilM — November 25, 2014 @ 2:27 pm

  5. “I – am – not – a – crook!”

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — November 25, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

  6. Does the report uphold Goff’s view that he wasn’t briefed?

    It goes into quite a lot of detail. Goff was showed a paper and on it was an agenda item about Israeli spies. Tucker then noted that he had briefed Goff, although he hadn’t, he’d just showed him the piece of paper. He then released the note indicating that he’d briefed Goff.

    Comment by danylmc — November 25, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

  7. Neil – The report finds that the SIS provided a misleading account of the briefing provided to Phil Goff. So they might have told him something about Israeli agents in Christchurch, but it would have been less than a detailed briefing.

    But hey. Why not go read the damned thing yourself instead of trying to troll Danyl’s blog? We’re not here to brief you.

    Just a thought.

    Comment by Nick R — November 25, 2014 @ 2:36 pm

  8. It’s unlikely any of this will be prosecuted. Andrew Geddis can write all he likes about what the law says about these matters, but this won’t change things. New Zealand is run by a network of men who look after themselves.

    Comment by George — November 25, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

  9. Goff was showed a paper and on it was an agenda item about Israeli spies.

    Geoff mantains he knew nothing of the SIS investigation. I’m not sure if it amounts to a “briefing” but it doesn’t amount to no briefing either.

    At the time the SIS found there was no substance to the bizzare Jewish conspiracy theory then doing the rounds.

    But Goff read that item and asked no questions, presumable, and then continued to demand in public that Key and the SIS come clean over the conspiracy.

    Safe in the assumption that such briefings were to be confidential.

    Key should have released the information directly rather than having Slater and Eade involved but Goff was playing his own games. And fanning the flames if Jewish conspiracy theories isn’t the job of the leader of a centre left party.

    Comment by NeilM — November 25, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

  10. Does the report uphold Goff’s view that he wasn’t briefed? …….But Goff read that item and asked no questions, presumable….fanning the flames if Jewish conspiracy theories ………

    NeilM joins his dots. Conspiracy theories much.

    Comment by paritutu — November 25, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

  11. If they are, or were exchanging classified information on non-official accounts then that’s, like, an actual major national security issue. I don’t know who investigates these matters but they’re pretty important no matter which political tribe you support. Unless everyone on the right is totally cool with the SIS and GCSB reporting to Matt McCarten in a couple years, and McCarten forwarding it all onto Bomber?

    If the Nats were exchanging info like that with Cameron Slater then he has shown powers of restraint hitherto unobserved.

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 25, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

  12. “…which part of the Public Records Act do you mean?”

    Public Records Act 2005 s18(1) – no person may dispose of, or authorise the disposal of, public records or protected records except with the authority of the Chief Archivist, given in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

    Basically you can’t go round destroying public records willy nilly. Hopefully that’s a relatively uncontroversial point.

    Comment by BeShakey — November 25, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

  13. It’s certainly highly unethical, even if not technically illegal. I’m not saying it isn’t illegal, I don’t really know – which part of the Public Records Act do you mean?

    @Ben – s17.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 25, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

  14. … SIS found there was no substance to the bizzare Jewish conspiracy theory then doing the rounds”
    What jewish conspiracy, it involved Israeli citizens on holiday, some who were killed, an Israeli search and rescue squad , who were escorted from the red zone by armed police, and a dead person who was supposed to have 5 passports who suddenly didnt and a PM who wouldnt answer questions as it ‘wasnt in the national interest.”

    That it was all above board, well they would say that wouldnt they.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — November 25, 2014 @ 7:27 pm

  15. Key’s behaviour today has simply been astonishing. He is claiming black is white and contesting the finding of his own government inquiry in the most brazen way imaginable. I know that Farrar will be telling him what the focus groups are saying, but the high-handed arrogance is incredible. And speaking of Farrar, isn’t he just the most dishonest fellow? Over on his site he flanneled the story as much as he could then buried it as fast as he could. His cynicism is as breathtaking as Key’s arrogance. In fact, the whole lot of them are starting to stink to high heaven.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 25, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

  16. The actions of the Prime Minister’s office reveal a dangerous disregard towards what makes up the fabric of our democracy. We do not have a written
    constitution and rely on politicians that are committed to and respect our democratic conventions. If this slips it’s hard to ever get that understanding back.
    My real worry is that the broader public will not care. I really really worry about that. Because we are in trouble if that happens.
    It means people have been turned off politics which was one of the dirty politics aims.

    Comment by Catherine Marks — November 26, 2014 @ 7:44 am

  17. over-site??

    Comment by Grant — November 26, 2014 @ 8:18 am

  18. “Upon receipt of the production order, Mr Ede provided a supplementary written statement to the inquiry in which he advised that the emails had been permanently deleted prior to the commencement of the inquiry and could not be recovered. I made my own enquiries
    and confirmed this was the case.”

    Seriously? In this day and age it is not possible to subpoena a person’s computer and go through it in order to establish the veracity of such a claim? I thought that one of the main reasons the police took Hager’s computers was that they can forensically discover stuff like this?

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 26, 2014 @ 8:41 am

  19. @ghostwhowlksnz

    That’s exactly the sentiment that Goff was playing to. Trying to portray what was a group of Israelis on holiday as an elaborate Mossad plot. That one happened to have died makes it even more unpleasant.

    I would have that the expectation for liberal politicians would be to be very careful with allegations of Jewish conspiracies, especially when based on anonymous sourses as this one was.

    Goff was very publicly demanding Key and the SIS tell the truth – implying that they were covering up this plot but when given the opportunity to question the head of SIS on this – he admits the subject was raised at the meeting – he didn’t bother.

    Comment by NeilM — November 26, 2014 @ 9:08 am

  20. Seriously?

    Sure. If Ede used Gmail or a similar service, unless they were subpoenaed there is no reasonable chance of recovery.
    Given that Gwyn clearly didn’t want to look that hard, the outcome speaks for itself.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 26, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  21. @NeilM – why are you conflating Israeli with Jewish? I’m pretty sure Goff didn’t.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 26, 2014 @ 9:11 am

  22. You know – it’s like how all the people bothered by things the Iranian government does are clearly just bigots prone to Persian conspiracy theories. Or something.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 26, 2014 @ 10:53 am

  23. according to kiwiblog:

    “Most importantly for the Prime Minister, Gwyn emphatically rejected any allegation of political collusion or direction of the SIS in its disclosure of information. The so-called “Dirty Politics” conspiracy did not exist.

    Indeed.

    She did find that information was provided by an employee in the Prime Minister’s Office to Slater for political purposes, but that employee was a political one who was not expected to be politically neutral and the information was not classified.

    Political staff have political discussions with bloggers. How surprising.”

    Thoughts?

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 26, 2014 @ 11:45 am

  24. “…Thoughts?…”

    I can’t wait for Matt McCarten to get the SIS dirt on David Farrar, since it is clear that…

    “…everyone on the right is totally cool with the SIS and GCSB reporting to Matt McCarten in a couple years, and McCarten forwarding it all onto Bomber…”

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 26, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

  25. “and the information was not classified. ”

    while that might be true – im staggered that people overlook the fact that the information was declassified just prior to its release

    so – any here ever had an OIA, asking for presumably classified sis information, get processed in record time AND have the exact same info declaissifed by the sis just prior to your OIA while you were on the phone to the PMs office discussing what to ask for in said OIA?

    DPF is neck deep in this sordid sack of crap – and he bloody well knows it. Its actually staggeringly pathetic that these corrupt destructive manipulators are still trying to say that the sun does indeed go round the earth.

    Comment by framu — November 26, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

  26. So, Key lied to Parliament today. Spin that.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 26, 2014 @ 7:15 pm


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