The Dim-Post

April 21, 2015

Who spied on whom?

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:59 am

Who were the 88 New Zealand citizens or residents illegally spied on by the GCSB? We’ll probably never know for sure (other than Dotcom). Ian Fletcher assured us they were very bad guys involved in ‘weapons of mass destruction development, people smuggling, foreign espionage in New Zealand and drug smuggling’.

But the latest Snowden revelation about the GCSB intercepting communications between the Chinese Consulate in Auckland and its visa office makes me suspect that some of – if not most of – the subjects of illegal surveillance were NZ citizens or nationals working at embassies targeted by the GCSB. I don’t know about the Chinese consulate, but most embassies hire a bunch of locals to do non-diplomatic work, so if you’re spying on an embassy you’re mostly intercepting traffic to-and-from those local hires.

On the one hand, spying on embassies is what intelligence agencies do. The law should allow them to do that. But politicians can’t say in public ‘We need the legal right to spy on the local staff at the Chinese consulate’, so you’re going to get a smokescreen. On the other hand, during the debate about the expansion of the GCSB’s powers, John Key and the GCSB’s apologists roared with outrage at their critics, who wanted us left defenseless against all those WMD wielding terrorists that only the security agencies protect us from. Now every week brings another revelation that these agencies have absolutely fuck-all to do with protecting anyone from anything.

The other thing you’re supposed to do when you’re a secret intelligence agency is keep your intelligence secret, and the Five Eyes network seems to be not-so-great at that. If you’re hacking into the secure transmissions of your largest trading partner you really don’t want to get caught, and all China needed to do to catch us is compromise one analyst anywhere in the network, and they’d have access to the same trove Snowden did. I doubt the Herald report is the first they’ve heard of this.

40 Comments »

  1. You raise the key issue, in my view. I am perfectly happy for the GCSB to do whatever data collection and spying it deems necessary, up to an including the proverbial “camera in the toilet”. But the deal is, they better keep whatever they know about me absolutely secret. I sure as hell don’t want it ending up with creeps like Julian Assange, traitors like Edward Snowdon, dictators like Vladimir Putin, political activists like Nicky Hager – or anyone. The NSA appears to have failed utterly in this regard.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — April 21, 2015 @ 10:05 am

  2. Aren’t you also sort-of worried about your data ending up with Labour Party and Green activists who work in the PM’s office in the next left-wing government, and use it to destroy you?

    Comment by danylmc — April 21, 2015 @ 10:12 am

  3. Yes I am. Which is why the use of the SIS material by the PMO over the Goff matter was so outrageous. The IRD offers greater guarantees of security than the SIS did on that occasion.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — April 21, 2015 @ 10:16 am

  4. So there’s now an agreement between the left and the right that our secret intelligence agencies should be more secret? I didn’t see that one coming!

    Comment by Tinakori — April 21, 2015 @ 10:18 am

  5. Wasnt the plan to target the vIsa office in a building down the road from the consulate never implemented ?

    Anyway , there was a host of other chinese government offices in Auckland.
    The Commercial Office in Alpers Ave, Newmarket
    The Education office in Dromorne Rd remuera.

    Me thinks NZ cosying up to China commercially and economically is to allow us to be the tethered goat

    Comment by dukeofurl — April 21, 2015 @ 10:53 am

  6. “…and all China needed to do to catch us is compromise one analyst anywhere in the network, and they’d have access to the same trove Snowden did.”

    They’ll have had a dozen.

    Snowden is weird, he took it public and is guaranteed to be spending the rest of eternity in a supermax somewhere after he gets traded for the next high value Russian caught in America. He didn’t get paid, he is away from his family and he only gets famous. Possibly he is just a little narcissistic.

    Whereas if he’d taken Chinese money or Russian, he’d be rich. And if by some miracle he got caught the Americans would never prosecute, because they couldn’t afford to be seen to be leaking like a sieve they must pretend endlessly their systems are secure. He’d just be given the sack and go work for Huawei.

    Comment by unaha-closp — April 21, 2015 @ 11:01 am

  7. So Hooton it was absolutely fine for Goff once again to lie his arse off safely knowing that the SIS couldn’t defend themselves, it’s in the public interest seeing he was running for PM at the time that we know what sort of a person he is.
    I seem to remember your lack of empathy for him at the time on nine to noon.

    Comment by David — April 21, 2015 @ 11:49 am

  8. Personally, I am disappointed that the digital age has taken all the romance from the spy game. Bring back dead drops under park benches and shooting people in the face using under powered hand guns whilst delivering dark witticisms.

    Comment by King Kong — April 21, 2015 @ 11:51 am

  9. king kong – true! – oh for the days of the penthouse and pie in a suitcase… oh wait – wrong kind of romance🙂

    Comment by framu — April 21, 2015 @ 12:12 pm

  10. They’ll have had a dozen.

    Exactly. Which is why the whole circle jerk is such an insane, grotesque waste of money.

    However, if Snowden had taken the money, under the current climate, he’d have probably been dealt with like Hanssen.
    If he’d been an Israeli spy though…

    Comment by Gregor W — April 21, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  11. I wonder if Snowden has someone taste his food for him. The fact he hasn’t been Litvenenko’d already really surprises me.

    Comment by King Kong — April 21, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

  12. Hi, Mr Hooten, you were a bit tetchy on nine to noon the other day. On a personal jihad against anyone who questions authority perchance… all those emotive words, you sound like Jihad John?

    You are smart and intellectually you do fly (I actually enjoy the way you infect conversations with your semantic twists), but yesterday and today I would have to say you were playing the part of Icarus. You flew to close the sun (called democracy) and it showed you to be wanting. More crudely put, what do you call a fly with no wings…… a walk? You walked, denigrating people like a child. I expect more subtlety from you.

    For example, you use words emotively. ….. person X is a Y (y= creep, traitor, dictator, and or political activist). Kind of formulaic no? Hummm so no part of Nicky Hagers entire lifes work is true, Vladimir Putin is just a pussy and Snowden is just a man who hates his country. Nicely pre-packaged no.

    This is my interpretation of what is going on Matt.

    The problem for us all is a simple one, do you trust the people in power ? Whats the payback to you as a citizen.

    Matt, you “trust them”, because you represent the wealthy interests (i.e. political power status quo) and there is some form of payback in that (tribal, intellectual, economic etc).
    I don’t “trust them” so much because I have read too much history (also I know myself) and are rather sceptical about humans motives (mine included) when they gain and or want to hold onto power. I do feel that the “innocent masses” will, if given half a chance turn into the very people they are trying to unsettle. A cluster fuck of humanity with each individual or group vying for ascendancy. Yeah, I know there a ton of decent caring people out there to (which is a flip side we should not forget).

    When it comes to people like Edward Snowden or Nicky Hager, my interpretation of what they stand for is this: They are simple aiming high in what they believe is right. I think Victor Hugho has a quote that sums it:

    Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.

    If you could put accurate statistics/proof on the harm that they have caused (i.e. in economic or life terms) I am interested to hear from you Matt. If on the other hand your just defending the status quo because it benefits you, then what shall I make of you.

    Stop telling me that we should not be interested or have a view point. To tell the truth I don’t know what camp I sit in when it comes to this surveillance, a bit like Vicky Pollard from Little Britain…. “Yeah, but, no, but, yeah, but, no, but…”

    All I know is that the checks and balances must be in place. Nick, Edward and you Matt et. al. are all part of the process.

    South African novelist Njabulo Ndebele sums it up for me:

    “Democracy blurs the relationship between certitude and uncertainty. It gets people used to the experience of formulating a position in the morning, changing their minds by the afternoon, growing angry, sleeping it off, feeling different again about the same matter next morning. Democracy breeds possibility: people’s horizons of what is thinkable and doable are stretched, and it is for that reason exciting, infuriating, punctuated by difficult, quarrelsome, ugly and beautiful moments.

    ‘Democracy is not a good thing in itself. It is what makes good things possible.’ It’s the closest people get to an experience of faith: the sense that against every kind of obstacle, they have to get on with things, keep searching for what in the end will work, knowing that although they don’t know exactly where they are going things won’t happen if their arms are folded.’ Fatalism is fatal for democracy, that people’s sense of the contingency of power relations is precious, that possibility is felt most intensely when they have tasted its opposite.”

    So keep shining the light boys and girls and for god sake stop name calling… its Juvenile not Juvenal..

    Comment by Chauncey Gardner — April 21, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

  13. interestingly enough –

    Juvenal
    Poet
    Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, known in English as Juvenal, was a Roman poet active in the late 1st and early 2nd century AD, author of the Satires

    Comment by framu — April 21, 2015 @ 1:04 pm

  14. A secret is no longer a secret once someone else knows it. Unlike Mr Hooton I am extremely unhappy when anyone discovers mine.

    Comment by peterc — April 21, 2015 @ 1:48 pm

  15. At the time it was revealed that 88 NZers had been spied on illegally, the PM (according to the Herald) “said police had conducted as thorough check of all their systems and had advised that ‘no arrest, prosecution or any other legal processes have occurred as a result of the information supplied to NZSIS by GCSB'”.

    So, these very bad people clearly haven’t been bad enough to be arrested or prosecuted, or maybe some were but not as a result of information produced by the GCSB.

    Comment by Ross — April 21, 2015 @ 1:51 pm

  16. So Hooton it was absolutely fine for Goff once again to lie his arse off safely knowing that the SIS couldn’t defend themselves

    Have a read of this – it should put you right: http://www.igis.govt.nz/assets/Inquiries/FINAL-REPORT-INTO-THE-RELEASE-OF-INFORMATION-BY-NZSIS-IN-JULY-AND-AUGUST-2.pdf

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 21, 2015 @ 2:05 pm

  17. David — April 21, 2015 @ 11:49 am:

    I’m not sure it is true that Goff quite “lied his arse off” in this particular case rather than getting it wrong. But even if he did lie his arse off re the SIS briefing them I am old school and think that the PM and SIS just have to take that on the chin. (That wouldn’t make it right for Goff to have lied of course.)

    The problem is when PM’s and leaders of the oppositions start talking publicly about aspects of the secret world – slippery slope etc. I prefer the Lange/Bolger/Clark model of never saying anything, rather than the Key/Muldoon model of yabbering when they think it suits them, but then refusing to comment when it doesn’t.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — April 21, 2015 @ 2:46 pm

  18. Goff lied and he did so because he was keen to stoke the flames of a particularly florid and nasty anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

    But I agree with your point that the gentlemen’s agreement era of national and labour on security, and foreign policy, is well and truely over.

    So some new checks and balances system is needed. The problem I find is that the alternative offered by the Greens and Hager doesn’t recognise the real security threats we do have.

    Comment by NeilM — April 21, 2015 @ 4:09 pm

  19. Good point ,The 88. The National government and Police promote the rule of law, if you break the law it’s off to jail, even for the smallest offence however it has recently been revealed that the Police deliberately attempted to mislead the courts in a Nelson case verses the Red Devils, detectives perjuring themselves on the stand and conspiring to pervert the course of justice. How many occasions have the authorities deceived the courts, got away with it and sent people to prison.
    The police are now actively incorporating the GCSB into their daily investigations who are self regulating are immune from prosecution and only accountable to John Key.
    What happens to society when the guardians of the law become the worst criminals?
    The GCSB has a nasty bag of tricks supplied by Uncle Sam, try http://www.surveillanceissues.com

    Comment by Woz — April 21, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

  20. NeilM,

    Goff lied and he did so because he was keen to stoke the flames of a particularly florid and nasty anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

    That isn’t what the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security’s report found – there’s a link to it in an above post. Go have a read of it. Cheryl Gwyn finds a conflict of stories between Goff and the SIS Director which cannot be resolved – Goff may have glanced over the relevant document, or he may not have. Not sure why you are in a better position to say different.

    What Gwynn does find, however, is that the way the SIS released information to the media was misleading and so lead to stories like “documents show Goff lied” … which simply wasn’t the case. Which you’ll see when you read the report.

    Matthew Hooten,

    I’m not sure it is true that Goff quite “lied his arse off” in this particular case rather than getting it wrong. But even if he did lie his arse off re the SIS briefing them I am old school and think that the PM and SIS just have to take that on the chin.

    Well, there is an alternative middle-way. The SIS could release pertinent information about the issue under the OIA (as they legally are required to), and do so in a way that doesn’t mislead those receiving it/lead to the issue being misreported.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 21, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

  21. Goff lied and he did so because he was keen to stoke the flames of a particularly florid and nasty anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

    NeilM – I don’t think you understand what anti-Semitism is.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 21, 2015 @ 4:38 pm

  22. “florid and nasty anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” hello , whats anti semetic about exposing undercover israeli agents harvesting passports from young travellers.

    You remember the last time they were exposed in a similar passport scam. Was that anti semitic too? We are entitled to protect ourselves from foreign powers who send secret agents here.

    Comment by dukeofurl — April 21, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

  23. We are entitled to protect ourselves from foreign powers who send secret agents here.

    Not Israel, but. Because the Holocaust.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 21, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

  24. Hey Matt Hooten et al, so you call Mr Snowden a traitor?

    If he was such an evil person/narcissistic who wanted to push his own agenda drip feeding material why would he say this?

    Citizen Four – Edward Snowden: http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=citizenfour

    “But because some of these documents are legitimately classified in ways that could cause harm to people and methods. I’m comfortable in my technical ability to protect them .I mean you could literally shoot me or torture me and I could not disclose the password, if I wanted to. I have the sophistication to do that.

    There are some journalists that I think could do that, but there are a number of them that couldn’t. But the question becomes, can an organization actually control that information in that manner without risking basically an uncontrolled disclosure?

    But I do agree with that, honestly I don’t want to be the person making the decisions on what should be public and what shouldn’t. Which is why rather than publishing these on my own, or putting them out openly, I’m running them through journalists.

    So that my bias, and my things, because clearly I have some strongly held views, are removed from that equation and the public interest is being represented in the most responsible manner.”

    He seems rather onto it to me. Nup, not a traitor.

    Comment by Chauncey Gardner — April 21, 2015 @ 5:30 pm

  25. So let me get this straight – it’s legitimate for intelligence agencies to spy on embassies, but in doing so they are not protecting us from anything? So why is it legitimate?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 21, 2015 @ 6:07 pm

  26. Over on the standard they promote the obscure English study that says left wing people have higher iq’s than right wing people.
    If that was the case why the hell are the left still rabbiting on about the gcsb?
    This may be news to some left wing people but we didn’t join the five eyes in 2008
    I am a national voter so keep on doing what you are doing because it’s working isn’t it.
    The strategy of abuseing john key has been working for 9 years now hasn’t it
    I do love the stubbornness of the left

    Comment by Graham — April 21, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

  27. But I think this is the issue Matthew is that Goff climbed into the gutter and basically said the diligent hard working public servants were liars relying on our neutral public servants to the right thing. It was appalling behaviour as you rightly pointed out at the time.
    If goff was going to get political then you can’t get upset their was a response in kind, would you have advised a minister when you were there to have risen above it all and get kicked in the head by the media ?

    Comment by David — April 21, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

  28. And yes snowden is a traitor
    He joined the NSA with the aim of stealing infomation
    If he did that in Russia they would shoot him

    Comment by Graham — April 21, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

  29. Remember goff has form in regards to information like that. He used mfat documents in a political attack on don brash.
    I think tucker did cross the line but goff had a history of lieing and leaking and screwing over public servants in this case he struck an old civil servant he was due for retirement who wasn’t going to take shit from a politician

    Comment by Graham — April 21, 2015 @ 6:33 pm

  30. Graham!

    You’re taking time out from organising the Dairy Farmers’ pressure to stop Fonterra selling milk to the evil, human rights abusing regimes of Saudi Arabia and China to give “the Left” advice on what is really important in the world! Aren’t you a man for all seasons?

    And did you know the US also execute its “traitors” (or, tries to, anyway)? http://articles.latimes.com/2003/feb/25/nation/na-regan25

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 21, 2015 @ 6:52 pm

  31. Wish the haters would make up their mind between ‘everyone knows’ and ‘it was bloody secret ffs’.

    But beyond that, the spooks have built this bloody great big machine that is too big to keep secret. there are too many people involved, too many contractors, like Snowden, too many with access, like Manning.

    there are things we should keep secret, very few disagree with this. But making the secret too big and unwieldy compromises those things. It’s no good screaming ‘OMG U R TRAITOR’ at journalists and other people whose job description does not include “keeping state secrets from the public” when the people whose job it actually is to do that fuck it up.

    Especially when/if the secrets revealed are boring.

    If you care about keeping the things secret that need to be kept secret, blame the people whose one job that is for fucking up. For keeping too many thing secret that need not be secret. For getting too bloody big for their boots and power tripping. For getting slack as fuck about vetting (look into the company that vetted Snowden; yeah, the NSA outsources vetting because of course they do.)

    Or blather on about ‘The Left’ coz harping at The Left is what you actually give a fuck about.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 21, 2015 @ 7:41 pm

  32. Hey Graham….you said “Over on the standard they promote the obscure English study that says left wing people have higher iq’s than right wing people”

    Well stuff me like a turkey, spank me six times and call me Chauncey

    The Daily Mail says it true (and as we know in NZ, whatever the MSM publish is true):

    Right-wingers are less intelligent than left wingers, says study
    Children with low intelligence grow up to be prejudiced
    Right-wing views make the less intelligent feel ‘safe’
    Analysis of more than 15,000 people

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2095549/Right-wingers-intelligent-left-wingers-says-controversial-study–conservative-politics-lead-people-racist.html

    LOL, take care mate (just haven a laugh)

    Comment by Chauncey Gardner — April 21, 2015 @ 8:18 pm

  33. It’s simple enough to judge Goff’s credibility by looking at the faux surprise he and other senior labour figures have shown over spying revelations.

    Given, for example, that what ever intelligence sharing with the security service in Bangaldesh started when he was in cabinet it’s very hard to take their current concern seriously.

    There’s not a lot of honesty but rather a lot of foolish short term partisan politicking.
    Which goes back to Mathew’s point.

    Comment by NeilM — April 21, 2015 @ 8:25 pm

  34. Why just china and the Arabs ?
    Should we sell product to USA?
    Russia
    Shit hole South America country’s
    I don’t care who I sell milk to hell I will even sell milk to a socialist.
    Irony escapes the left
    “Prejudiced” to me indicates socialist
    It’s so hard being a stupid rich person
    Lol

    Comment by Graham — April 21, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

  35. would you have advised a minister when you were there to have risen above it all and get kicked in the head by the media ?

    Matthew would have advised a Minister to obfuscate, to bullshit, to delay releasing official information, and to refuse to respond to requests for information.

    Comment by Ross — April 21, 2015 @ 8:56 pm

  36. Graham (2/2/2015)

    I the terrible right winger care more about humanity than you do that must stick in your throats

    Graham (21/4/2015)

    I don’t care who I sell milk to hell I will even sell milk to a socialist.

    Maybe there’s something to this “right wingers are stupid” thing.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 22, 2015 @ 7:56 am

  37. Graham — April 21, 2015 @ 6:26 pm – when you moan about lefties saying they are smarter than you – then go on to say a whole bunch of really dumb stuff you kind of prove them right. You do this quite a bit

    Comment by framu — April 22, 2015 @ 9:36 am

  38. Whats happened here ? This site has mostly genteel conversations has suddenly attracted the swivel eyed loons

    Comment by dukeofurl — April 22, 2015 @ 10:16 am

  39. There’s always been swivel eyed loons here, it’s just that until recently most of them were also capable of semi-coherent argument.

    Comment by helenalex — April 22, 2015 @ 12:14 pm

  40. But the latest Snowden revelation about the GCSB intercepting communications between the Chinese Consulate in Auckland and its visa office makes me suspect that some of – if not most of – the subjects of illegal surveillance were NZ citizens or nationals working at embassies targeted by the GCSB.

    Nope. They can’t be the subjects of illegal surveillance, because spying on them is perfectly legal. The GCSB Act (pre-2013 version) banned spying on “a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.”; The current version phrases it differently, banning spying on “a person who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident of New Zealand, unless (and to the extent that) the person comes within the definition of foreign person or foreign organisation in section 4.

    A “foreign organisation” is what you’d expect, and includes foreign governments. A “foreign person… includes a person acting in his or her capacity as an agent or a representative of [a non-citizen or permanent resident]”. So, from a legal point of view, NZers who work in foreign emabassies are “foreign persons” and can be spied on in the course of their work. Which means that they can’t be included in the 88.

    Comment by idiotsavant23 — April 23, 2015 @ 6:05 pm


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