Grant Robertson has been front running the attack on John Key and the GCSB. This was done partly because David Shearer is compromised when it comes to remembering things, since he can’t even remember millions stashed in an offshore bank account.
However there may be another reason for Grant Robertson to be front running this…he knows more than he is letting on. The Labour Party have opened up a whole can of hurt on themselves by desperately trying to link the Prime Minister to the unlawful spying by the GCSB on Kim Dotcom. I say this because it turns out, after the Kitteridge report was leaked yesterday that the GCSB may have spied on 88 New Zealand citizens unlawfully, using legislation that Labour set up in 2003.
David Shearer scoffed at the report on Q+A on Sunday when asked, dismissing it as an “internal report”, now however he says that the report validates his calls for an independent inquiry into our spy agencies. Quite how that could be done without compromising our national security has probably escaped him right now.
However what is more curious is that Grant Robertson, who has been leading Labour’s attacks on the Prime Minister’s oversight of the GCSB, was Helen Clark’s senior advisor when the legislation was written. Is it possible that he has known about these issues for quite some time and has used his information to conflate the Kim Dotcom issue in order to attempt to smear all of GCSBs illegal spying under Clark with the few instances under John Key’s watch?
Helen Clark was also notoriously secretive about the GCSB and its operations, and never answered any questions in Parliament about the agency, citing national security reasons. Labour are trying to hang the PM for answering questions in a much more forthright manner than his predecessor.
Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson, who has led the attacks on the appointment of Ian Fletcher, was as the agency’s director in 2012, was the GCSB Director during most of the time the 88 allegedly unlawful spying incidents took place.
That is an amazing coincidence of Clark appointed people all hammering the government in unison over something that was started by them, indeed performed by them, over a much longer period that under John Key.
Rebecca Kitteridge, who reviewed the GCSB’s systems, found that GCSB’s compliance systems set up over many years were totally inadequate, that there was no depository of legal advice, that the audit regime is flawed, that it’s external reporting was insufficient, that it’s management structure is top-heavy, poorly performing staff are tolerated and redeployed, and that the view of the previous Chief Legal Advisor, who wore “too many hats”, was viewed as authoritative and seldom questioned by staff.
It’s no wonder the State Services Commissioner recommended that an outsider with transformational change management experience, rather than yet another military flag officer, take over the leadership of the GCSB.