GCSB

Rare bipartisan cooperation between National and Labour

An overhaul of the legislation governing the spy agencies is set to go ahead next month after the Government agreed to Labour’s call for changes to ensure stronger safeguards before agencies can spy on New Zealanders.

The Select Committee looking at the lntelligence and Security Bill has reported back and the Government has agreed to pick up most the changes recommended.

The overhaul will give the GCSB the power to spy on New Zealanders as well as the SIS and Prime Minister Bill English said the most significant change was a new two-pronged test before a warrant to spy on New Zealander could be issued.

That would require a minister and Commissioner of Intelligence Warrants to be satisfied it was necessary for national security and that it fitted within a list of seven situations such as terrorism, violent extremism, espionage, sabotage or serious crime. Read more »

What will Labour/Green do with Waihopai, Five Eyes and the GCSB?

Labour leader Andrew Little has made it clear there won’t be any change in New Zealand’s international security relationships if his party forms a government with the Greens after the election.

Labour and the Greens are working together in the run-up to the election and on Sunday Mr Little and Greens’ co-leader Metiria Turei gave joint State of the Nation speeches in Auckland.

They have some joint policies as well, but they don’t agree on New Zealand being part of the Five Eyes intelligence-gathering operation that links the country with Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia.

The Waihopai spy station is part of that.

After the speeches had been delivered, Ms Turei confirmed the Greens would continue to oppose New Zealand’s participation.

Mr Little says there won’t be any changes under his leadership in government.

“National security is absolutely vital,” he told RNZ on Monday.

“New Zealanders want to know that the way we are running the country is keeping them safe and secure, and that our security relationships are strong as well.

“And I am absolutely determined we will maintain those.”

So we would have a Labour/Green coalition where Labour is committed to working with Trump’s America for the purposes of national security and international intelligence gathering. Read more »

Hey Andrea? Remember when you said this?

Andrea Vance is one of the main journalists sniffing through the Panama Papers.

It might be useful to remind Andrea Vance of something she claimed in 2013:

In other circumstances, I could probably find something to laugh about in revelations that the journalist who broke a story about illegal spying was snooped on by Parliament’s bureaucrats.

Let alone the irony that the reporter previously worked for the News of the World, the tabloid at the centre of a privacy violation scandal.

But I am that journalist and I’m mad as hell.

Anyone who has had their confidential details hacked and shared around has the right to be angry.  

Read more »

Tagged:

Comment of the Day

One of our commenters has worked out how we can solve the problem of the Media party and left-wing whingers with regards to the SIS and GCSB being able to spy without consequences.

You’ve hit the nail on the head Kiwiracer. All that is now required is for all GCSB/SIS/Police staff to complete Journalism 101, then all their investigations can be counted as “in the public interest” and can be carried out without any further scrutiny in their role as “journalists”. The privileged ones apparently can use this free pass without any responsibility or accountability. The possibilities are limitless.

Nicky Hager breached my privacy, he and his pals in the media pawed through my messages, emails, bank statements, FB messages, DM tweets…all of it. They sniggered they laughed and they published a good portion of it.

They justified it all by saying it was a matter of public interest. They claimed they conducted “investigative” reporting despite all the actual effort being done by a criminal.   Read more »

Tagged:

Who are we supposed to trust then? The media? Oh come on…

Stacey Kirk thinks we can’t trust the government:

Our spy agencies don’t exactly have an exemplary record for following the law, in the minds of most New Zealanders.

That’s partly due to a disgracefully gung-ho attitude, partly due to poorly drafted laws.

But the power has been executed just once, since it was legislated for at the end of 2014. It appears it’s something Security Director Rebecca Kitteridge clearly doesn’t take lightly.

In fairness, it seems there has been somewhat of a culture-shift in both the SIS and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to both be more transparent, and abide by the rules.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei is now calling on Finlayson to release more details of the circumstances of the incident, in particular, whether it was related to terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS).

Here’s the problem I have with that: how would it be any different to the information – flawed as it was – that we received from Kitteridge and the Prime Minister late last year about the Kiwi brand of jihadi brides. Kiwis they were, but living in Australia – an omission that was clearly intended to bolster the case for greater spying powers, received in this year’s review.   Read more »

Tagged:

Hide on Key, Labour and spying

The report is in and, contrary to the screaming skull’s assertions, there is not and has not been any mass surveillance of Kiwis.

Rodney Hide examines security, intelligence and Labour’s game-playing in his Herald on Sunday column:

There’s a reason John Key remains Prime Minister, having outpolled five successive Labour Party leaders: he is smart. And not just smart: very smart.

We can see that in his choosing Sir Michael Cullen along with lawyer Dame Patsy Reddy to review our spy agencies.

Cullen is Labour through and through and his conducting of the review should help depoliticise what has become a vexed issue.

He is also smart and will make it hard for Labour to oppose the review’s findings and recommendations.

Spying is highly politically charged and is a loser for any Government – the usual transparency that ensures accountability would undermine the very purpose of the agencies.

Until recent times there has been multi-party agreement and oversight of the spy agencies, including the Greens being represented on the Intelligence and Security Committee.

The political parties have placed the cause of national security above the seeking of political advantage and the agencies have also worked hard to be transparent with the Parliamentary parties.

The system has worked.

But, politics being politics, the Government-Opposition bipartisanship broke down when the political opportunity presented itself.

Read more »

Wide GCSB consultation will produce mind-numbing never-ending wailing

Prime Minister John Key acknowledges the changes would represent an extension to the “authority” of the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders.

But he says it would not be an overall expansion of the agencies’ powers.

That is rejected outright by the Greens who call the review the greatest erosion of New Zealanders’ privacy ever seen in modern times.

That does reflect a view held by many, who are cynical about the intentions and actions of the intelligence agencies.

Much of the criticism of the changes to the GCSB Act in 2013 was that the process was rushed; validated by the reviewers’ conclusions about the unworkability and inconsistency of that law. Read more »

Tagged:

Oh please make it stop, now the SIS and GCSB are getting attacked for racial and gender quotas

The Media Party thinks that whether your skin is brown or not, or whether you have a vagina and boobs is more important than your abilities at cryptography or other essential skills needed to work at the SIS or GCSB.

While nearly 15 percent of New Zealand’s population is Maori, they account for just 7.4 percent of staff at the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) while even fewer work for the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), according to research by a Massey University masters student.

Pacific Islanders accounted for just two and four percent at the SIS and GCSB respectively.

The report found diversity at spy agencies was not “an accurate reflection of New Zealand’s population”, with staff at the agencies saying they had been subjected to unnecessary racist jokes at their expense.

“Although it was not a pressing issue, staff did note that often at times this type of banter was excessive, unnecessary and that it would not be tolerated if the same was done to those of non-ethnic descent,” the report written in 2014 said.

Maori and Pacific people who “come from open, honest, trusting families and communities” being uncomfortable with the secrecy associated with a spy agency may also make recruitment unattractive to them.

Despite this, the report goes on to commend the NZIC for its efforts to address inequality, but says there is still much room for improvement.

Would you like the security of our nation, when faced with ISIS, domestic terrorism and commercial cyber attacks to be in the hands of people that were selected due to the right gender or ethnicity? Read more »

Tagged:

On John Campbell

By Pete

Leading on from our Face of the Day and Metro’s article on John Campbell.

I don’t have anything against JC personally.  He can do whatever he likes, because I can choose not to watch or listen, a choice which I continue to exercise.

Where it all came unstuck was the absolutely ludicrous move by the left of politics to try and turn this into yet another conspiracy about the Key government.  And on that basis, they had to lose that one.  So I take satisfaction they lost that battle, although personally I am not convinced they love him that much either.  He was just another stick to beat the government with.  Politics is ruthless like that.

Mediaworks have done worse since they booted him.  And Radio New Zealand haven’t picked up any of the expected ‘fans’ because the ‘fans’ were nothing but the same social media and media noise that the left of politics mistake for true support.

Let’s also remember that JC joined camp Dotcom and tried to make nothing into something to take John Key down.  That single “smoking gun” episode that John Key knew of Dotcom before he said he did was deeply embarrassing.  (It’s also the only time I’ve seen more than just a snippet of his program for a good decade as I wanted to know what Campbell knew what we didn’t – in the end, nothing).

As an advocacy journalist he is entitled to do that.  Mediaworks, as an employer, are entitled to remove his soapbox.   That’s the end of that, really.   Read more »

NZ terrorist attack a matter of when, not if – but are we well prepared?

Gerry Brownlee and his custom tailored ballistic vest that cost three times the standard vest worn by Kiwi troops

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee believes Australia and New Zealand are “adequately prepared” for potential terror threats.

Mr Brownlee hosted his Australian counterpart, Senator Marise Payne, in Christchurch yesterday in their first formal meeting with Islamic State on the agenda.

He says he’s comfortable with the level of protection the region has, but can’t be completely sure a major terror event couldn’t happen in New Zealand.

“The last thing you want is to have a threat of someone who is a complete nut job, as these people are, doing something and causing everyone else to have huge disruption in their life. That’s giving in to the whole purpose of terrorism,” Mr Brownlee says. Read more »

Tagged: