Auckland Town Hall meeting to publicize, New Zealand’s spying on own citizens.
Glenn Greenwald, Kim Dotcom, Robert Amsterdam, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden
“Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched. At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called XKEYSCORE” – Edward Snowden
Snowden: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Isn’t Telling the Truth About Mass Surveillance
By Edward Snowden
September 15, 2014 “ICH” - “The Intercept” – Like many nations around the world, New Zealand over the last year has engaged in a serious and intense debate about government surveillance. The nation’s prime minister, John Key of the National Party, has denied that New Zealand’s spy agency GCSB engages in mass surveillance, mostly as a means of convincing the country to enact a new law vesting the agency with greater powers. This week, as a national election approaches, Key repeated those denials in anticipation of a report in The Intercept today exposing the Key government’s actions in implementing a system to record citizens’ metadata.
Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched. At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called “XKEYSCORE.” It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic. I know this because it was my full-time job in Hawaii, where I worked every day in an NSA facility with a top secret clearance.
The prime minister’s claim to the public, that “there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance” is false. The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks.
If you have doubts, which would be quite reasonable, given what the last year showed us about the dangers of taking government officials at their word, I invite you to confirm this for yourself. Actual pictures and classified documentation of XKEYSCORE are available online now, and their authenticity is not contested by any government. Within them you’ll find that the XKEYSCORE system offers, but does not require for use, something called a “Five Eyes Defeat,” the Five Eyes being the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and yes, New Zealand.
This might seem like a small detail, but it’s very important. The Five Eyes Defeat is an optional filter, a single checkbox. It allows me, the analyst, to prevent search results from being returned on those countries from a particular search. Ask yourself: why do analysts have a checkbox on a top secret system that hides the results of mass surveillance in New Zealand if there is no mass surveillance in New Zealand?
The answer, one that the government of New Zealand has not been honest about, is that despite claims to the contrary, mass surveillance is real and happening as we speak. The GCSB provides mass surveillance data into XKEYSCORE. They also provide access to the communications of millions of New Zealanders to the NSA at facilities such as the GCSB station at Waihopai, and the Prime Minister is personally aware of this fact. Importantly, they do not merely use XKEYSCORE, but also actively and directly develop mass surveillance algorithms for it. GCSB’s involvement with XKEYSCORE is not a theory, and it is not a future plan. The claim that it never went ahead, and that New Zealand merely “looked at” but never participated in the Five Eyes’ system of mass surveillance is false, and the GCSB’s past and continuing involvement with XKEYSCORE is irrefutable.
But what does it mean?
It means they have the ability see every website you visit, every text message you send, every call you make, every ticket you purchase, every donation you make, and every book you order online. From “I’m headed to church” to “I hate my boss” to “She’s in the hospital,” the GCSB is there. Your words are intercepted, stored, and analyzed by algorithms long before they’re ever read by your intended recipient.
Faced with reasonable doubts, ask yourself just what it is that stands between these most deeply personal communications and the governments of not just in New Zealand, but also the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia?
The answer is that solitary checkbox, the Five Eyes Defeat. One checkbox is what separates our most sacred rights from the graveyard of lost liberty. When an officer of the government wants to know everything about everyone in their society, they don’t even have to make a technical change. They simply uncheck the box. The question before us is no longer “why was this done without the consent and debate of the people of this country,” but “what are we going to do about it?”
This government may have total control over the checkbox today, but come Sept. 20, New Zealanders have a checkbox of their own. If you live in New Zealand, whatever party you choose to vote for, bear in mind the opportunity to send a message that this government won’t need to spy on us to hear: The liberties of free people cannot be changed behind closed doors. It’s time to stand up. It’s time to restore our democracies. It’s time to take back our rights. And it starts with you.
National security has become the National Party’s security. What we’re seeing today is that in New Zealand, the balance between the public’s right to know and the propriety of a secret is determined by a single factor: the political advantage it offers to a specific party and or a specific politician. This misuse of New Zealand’s spying apparatus for the benefit of a single individual is a historic concern, because even if you believe today’s prime minister is beyond reproach, he will not remain in power forever. What happens tomorrow, when a different leader assumes the same power to conceal and reveal things from the citizenry based not on what is required by free societies, but rather on what needs to be said to keep them in power?
TIME / LOCATION: Wednesday 27th August, 7.30pm, at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, Auckland, New Zealand
SUMMARY: Nicky Hager talks about his new book “Dirty Politics: How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment”, focusing on the techniques used such as negative politics, the two track policy, fear of reputation attacks, and the tactic of influencing the left-wing electorate not to vote. Nicky also touches on solutions.
DURATION: 25:47 (NB this link starts at 13:00 when Nicky Hager starts speaking, after intro by Sir Edmund Thomas. NB a question and answers session follows but has not been included here)
Kia ora kato. Good evening. I’ve never had a welcome like that before. Today is the first day that I have talked – like not through media. Talked in public to people and thank you very much for coming. I’m going to talk about reaction to the book. I’m going to talk about some of what’s in it, for the people that haven’t read it. I’m going to talk about what I think needs to be done about it. And then, most important, most interesting, I’m happy to front up and answer any questions or challenges, or anything that anyone wants to ask about the book. And we’ll try to spend plenty of good time on that.
So this is my 6th book that I’ve written, and they have all done reasonably well. But there has never been a book that has had a reaction like this before, and I don’t think that’s about my writing style. I think that’s something about the content of this, that has struck a nerve in New Zealand’s political being; that its actually resonated with something that was going on for people who are living and thinking about politics in New Zealand. That’s what I want to talk about today.
It could seem, if you haven’t read the book. It might seem, if you’ve heard about it through news media, as if the book is a kind of compendium of nastiness and dirty things and deception. But as far as I’m concerned, its really a book about ethics. Its about who we want to be in this country and the choices that political people need to make. And so that’s why in a little while, I’m going to talk about the things which I think are how we deal with the stuff which is in the book, rather than just wallowing around in the nastiness of it.
The thing is that what I wrote about, mostly wasn’t new news. I think that the important part of it, I think there are people all over the country – I know there are people all of the country who have been feeling attacked or frightened or intimidated or got at by the scale of attack politics that have been going on. I personally know people in science and academia and other areas who have been threatened and pressured through their jobs not to speak out in the public interest.
So that we’ve the political environment in recent years where the people who you’d most like to be speaking [word/s not understood by transcriber] have often felt constrained or frightened of doing that – vulnerable when they do that. At the same time the political parties have been experiencing, the opposition political parties, have been experiencing repeated minor scandals, smears, attacks, seemingly coming from no-where. Controversies, many of which, from my research and the papers I’ve found, have been orchestrated in the benign and easy way, using the same tricks over and over again, by this attack machine which has been set up over the last 8 years within the National Party.
So I think lots of people have already been feeling that, and have been uncomfortable with it. And that’s one of the reasons why there has been such a strong reaction to the book. And I think the other thing people have been feeling is something that there wasn’t a name for, but its what the U.S. Republican Party calls a 2 track approach to public – wooing public opinion or winning opinion. And before I go over some details in the book, I want to talk about the 2 track approach because its kind of – is, in a way its a central idea of the book. And I think its a central idea of about how politics isn’t working in New Zealand. I should say where this idea came from [to Nicky Hager].
When I finished my book “The Hollow Men” which I worked on much longer than the current one I’m proud of, I got an email from one of the people that is in the book – He was in – He had been involved in the meeting with the Exclusive Brethren in Hawkes Bay when Don Brash was there, and wrote to me about it. Then New Zealand – I know his uncle – of course where all related, and he said – my mate said to me “could you get hold of one of my nephews. He’s in your book he wants to talk about it with you” .
And it was a man called Simon Lusk. And he wanted to tell me – he was actually interested in the book and the ideas in it. He wanted to tell me his views and his findings on negative politics, which he has been finding from studying the American politics, Republican Party. And so this is – some of you will know this from the book but its central to it which is why I want to say it for any other people – for people here that have not read it.
And that is that this is the idea that “negative politics” is a very powerful kind of politics – you can trip up, you can smear, you can damage your opponents, and the United States is the place where this has been practised the most, developed the most – in their political system. But the problem with negative politics is that it can backlash on the candidate that’s doing it. You can look bad – you can look like a person that does really horrible things dirty politics – in doing it. And so what a 2 track policy was – was that divide and develop within U.S. Republican politics – was that the leaders or the leader would be held above the dirty politics – the smears, the personal attacks, the nastiness and be [unintelligible to transcriber] and relaxed, while they would contract out at arms length to people who were producing the negative attack ad’s [advertising] and digging out the dirt, and the smears and so on.
Now I believe that is more or less the story that has gone on in New Zealand, and I think it has created a sense of confusion about the political system because people have been experiencing in the last 6 years a government that has done quite a few policies which polls would say the majority of people don’t support, and at the same time there has been this heightened level of personal attack and negative politics going on and yet the National Party stands up and it continues to ride high in the polls because people think that the leader is has adopted the persona of being friendly and relaxed and nothing really touching him, and rising above negative politics.
And I think that’s been a great confusion in the country about what is even happening in politics because there wasn’t a proper explanation of how things were working.
And when I walk down the street which I – over the last few weeks I walk down the street and literally cant get more that 20 metres before the next person stops to talk to me about the book. Something about it means that these ideas and worries which have been around it, and vague awareness which has crystallized – its got through to people. And its the reason why their feeling the way the are.
I want to run through some of the ideas of the book – reasonably quickly so we have time for questions. First of is the role of blogs. Some blogs – the blogs have petition – the potential to have fine thinking and to go places where – you know – to do new and wonderful things. But the same Republican Party literature which I was using as my source in the book – Blogs have another role and they has stated quite explicitly in their materials – Blogs are a way to run campaigns for a political party which is slightly separate from the party and can do the dirty work that the party doesn’t get held responsible for but still attacks its opponents.
In the U.S. literature what it says is – Blogs can be used – blogs aren’t constrained like the news media is by having to be accurate or having to be fair. Or even having any more than a rumour which is what their going to use to attack their opponents. And that is seen as the power of Political blog which was linked to a political party. It could do the dirty work – you are never held accountable if your the leader or the leadership of that party if anything went [wrong and exposed deceitful slander]. Because it is this new unregulated zone which looked like, which mimicked and pretended to be kind of news media, or new media, but was actually and outlet for the party to do its dirty work. So that’s the first concept – there are fantastic blogs, and there are disgusting blogs. And only 10 years or something into the internet age we still haven’t learned the difference properly, and we have to learn the difference language of it , so we can tell the difference. So we can decide which one we want and which ones we push justifiably to the margins.
The next thing which is a key thing in the book is that in New Zealand the politics in the last while – its looked more and more things consist of little scandals. Scandals which they’re nothing much to do with the future of the country or with the policies that matter, but constantly seeing politics as being tripped up, insulted, bad news coming out about them , and this is about the linkage between the Prime Ministers Department, and the Blogs, the Beehive, and the Blogs and the News Media. Where stories have been pouring out continuously about [?free courtney world time?], the Internet Party is going to be announced, bad news comes out.
They have their launch, bad news comes out. There’s a kind of nice co-ordinated system. Same with the Labour Party, tripping them up at every turn. Which is fine, if your like in the Mouldoon days and you stand up as the leader and you stab people in the front. At least people can judge you for what you did. The problem with this system is that its sneaky – its underhand – no one knows whose hand is at work in scandal after smear after personal attack. So that’s the second phenomena, is that we have been experiencing without analysing more constant little attacks and scandals and trip ups and “got ya’s” than is usual in our politics and its taken over and we don’t want to start to think that’s what politics consists of. And that’s what there are parts of the book about.
Most of you know these these bits but the ones that are highlighted in the news when the book came out was a picture of the man who works in the office 2 doors down the corridor from John Keys office on the 9th floor of the Beehive who is inside the Labour Party computers downloading material, digging around looking for dirt and then when he’s downloaded the dirt – to-ing and frowing with Cameron Slater deciding which bits that Cameron Slater will use to attack, and which bits will hurt the most. Now we should never use the gate word in New Zealand because it has been used so often – you know – its a crime. But digging inside your political opponents [?organ?] invasion and taking out information and using it in targeted political attacks is very [short statement not understood] is what I’m saying.
This is off the scale of what we are used to in this country. And I know that the Prime Minister has still not in any way advanced or taken responsibility for it. But then we move onto a new stage of this which I did not expect to find and I don’t think anyone was particularly expecting and that is that the same machine that has been set up for attacking people who stuck their heads up in politics and political parties, which were the opponents of the National Party is being used for commercial clients as well . And this is an insidious thing that has being going on.
There have been whole political issues, and whole controversies which have been run with the use of the “Whale Oil” blog and it echoed in its [?sister blog KiwiBlog?] with stuff written by unseen people and paid for by large New Zealand corporates who should be deeply embarrassed for having done something so scummy. And that’s an issue which will not be resolved by between now and the election. In fact I would suggest that over the next few years we should be picking and talking about those politics because its extremely disreputable and it will take a while to hold people for it to account and to produce change about that. There’s also – jumping through the last things – there’s also the chapters about phoney political campaigns which is really about the news media and all the rest of us not being so susceptible to the next person who jumps up and says I’m an independent group whose campaigning for – you know – against MMP or whatever, when in fact its the same few National Party activists running campaigns to suit their party.
And then the final area of course which is kind of the grubbiest of all and is very serious – its the use of personal sexual kind of scandals which we have already seen in the Len Brown case, organized by the Auckland National party, but there were many other examples and actually there not just a means of attacking people, but what became clear was Cameron Slater and talking about it was a way of getting control over people because they were in fear.
And while I travelled in the last 2 weeks talking to people about the book and doing a lot of media interviews, I’ve been taken aside by various journalists – senior and otherwise – this is an important story and it will not ju – its only because I’ve I’ve seen journalists – who have said to me “um Nicky, was there anything about me in that thing?”, which is funny. But its not funny. Its actually terrible because all over the country all of us, everyone has got things that they are embarrassed about – everything does things that are stupid and not proud of. Lets not be high and mighty about it. And if you think that there is an industry out there – a maliciously directed industry of people digging it up and saving it to use against you – this is a very very destructive influence to have happen in a little society like ours. And I can say in a short time I can say in have met quite a few people who have been nervous about that phenomenon. Its really really grubby.
[27:53 Learning to understand the psychology of people employing 2 track negative politics, and the tactic of actively influencing left-wing opposition not to vote.]
So I want to say one final thing about the principles which I think you will understand. but we need to get new ideas in our head for understanding these kind of people. And the thing that I – at the end – when I finish the whole meeting – it struck me – the tactics I had been writing about – when you win over people. Who are naturally your supporters. How do you kind of trick people to support you when actually they might be voting against your own interests? But what I saw in this book, and actually heard from the people concerned and saw in the literature that they believe in and quote, was a new kind of way of doing politics. And that’s not the kind of political campaigners or political management people who are trying to win voters over to their party, this is the politics of trying to stop people from voting. Of people giving up and pushing people out of politics and I think that is actually the uniting theme of what this book is about.
The book is about all the people that have been silenced or scared or bullied into being less vocal members of our society and its also about the people who have been encouraged to see politics as a dirty grubby selfish game – where all to politicians are as bad as each other, and the whole thing is useless, just turn up your music and don’t take any notice, and don’t vote, which is a really dangerous and terrible thing, and its also horribly expedient thing, because they know whose going to stop voting first and its not their people – they think. So these are serious policies for us. We don’t understand what their thinking and where they are coming from – we don’t know what the answers are.
I want to talk about now – just a min [a couple of words not understood]. I just want to say something about the issue of privacy, because I have been quite reasonably – I think also quite – you know – I’m just trying to find an argument to divert of the issue. I have been challenged about why me – who often talks about privacy, and peoples right to privacy – think its all right to take leaked information? Good question. Reasonable challenge. First thing I’d say is that leaking – just understanding what a leak is. A leak is a safety valve in society. A leak means which is unauthorized, illegal or is regarded a wrong – its not the normal process. You don’t get leaks under the official information act.
Leaking is what you do when something important is going on that is not going to be found out about otherwise. So I believe in leaks, but I believe in they have to have a very good reason. Ed’s talked about that. But there’s privacy in it, so when someone leaks me – when someone comes to me, and lets me use this pile of information about the weird world of Cameron Slater and all his associates – I feel a very strong obligation to just compartmentalize my mind and not use most of that – and what I’m saying is, I believe that even in the act of dealing with a leak like this, privacy is just as important. I went to huge lengths to take peoples names out, cut out the dirty bits, to use little bits of quotes and other bits, so I didn’t humiliate people – not causing problems with their families and the rest of It. And I think that – I just want to say this because I don’t want to this thing – to have been a hypocrite, by my stand in one area, and my stand in another. [audience applause]
And I want to illustrate this by making reference to a mistake that happened which is that I was challenged to release some of the information in the book by our – the Prime Minister – saying that I had made it up, and I would have to front up or people wouldn’t believe me. So I spoke to my source, who is a decent and ethical person, and said “would you release some of the documents that you gave to me – that I used for the book. And in one of those cases he released information without taking out the personal information – which really hurt and upset somebody – whose name I wont repeat here to increase the crime. But I just want to say I’m sorry and that man had every right and reason to be angry and upset, and we just all have to be more careful, because privacy matters hugely in society – for peoples rights and I’m sorry that happened.
The final thing I want to talk about which is maybe the most important part, is what can be done? I start from the point of view that I don’t believe for a moment that politics is inevitably awful and shabby and bad and selfish and all those things – that we sometimes hear. But it will be if we leave it to people that featured in my book. What can we do? The first thing is to accept the inevitability, you cant stop politicians being tricky or telling lies. You cant stop PR [public relations] people trying to manipulate things. You cant stop – you cant legislate against dirty tricks basically in most ways.
So what you have to do if you don’t what the kind of stuff which I document in the book, is to build up societies defences. And empower other people to participate in politics so its different. Its not a wussy answer – this is the strongest answer there is. This is why in the final part of the book, in the Afterward, I list all the things that I think will improve the public interest and strong democratic kind of politics in this country. And these issues wont be sorted out between now and the next election, but they are actually much more important than the next election. These are things that I urge you to read and think about and help to bring into being in the next coming years. Otherwise we leave the field to the nastiest and the most unscrupulous to determine how the politics are done in the country. The second thing is [audience applauses].
The second thing I want to say is everyone can help. If I write a book and It causes a stir in the news media and then the stir dies down, then frankly that was just like another bit of political entertainment, as the years roll by. And I want to talk about what everyone can do. I believe that involvement in politics – that even when there are people who have been unscrupulous in politics, politics is the sum of the actions of everyone involved. And the more people that try to do good things, the better it is for the whole country. So what do we do? So first of all please try to help up our news media and resources and transparency and those defences that we can have.
But the next thing I would say is don’t imitate the attack bloggers. If you have a left wing blog, don’t make it like a right wing [negative politics attacking tactics] blog. Don’t think that because they have been effective, that its the way to do politics. In fact look at what their doing and reject it, is what I would argue. Strongly. [Audience applause]. But what I’m saying [is] the answer to dirty politics is for every person that possibly can to act in the way that they think that politics should be. I also want to say that I believe in books.
I actually think there is a difference between books and news media. There’s something about people reading from one end of the book to the other which can actually change things. And so I’m asking you quite specifically if you think that the book was worth while, tell people about it. Lend them a copy. Encourage about there. Because books – I know from my experience from years of writing them – that books have an effect far beyond the relatively small numbers that get printed. Please help that process. This is the fastest selling book my publishers have every had. Its going to go a long way – I’d like it to go further.
And of course the final thing is, understand this is for individuals. Understand what the politics are that we are fighting. We’re fighting the politics of encouraging people not to participate. And the answer to that is to participate. Participate in writing, and in thinking and talking and being involved in elections. That’s actually the antidote, that’s the answer. That’s the flip-side of what we are talking about. Participation. Participation in the national party. I don’t mind participation in the labour party. I don’t mind participation in the other parties. Participation is the answer to the politics we are talking about. And if you don’t belong to anything that at least [, its] the least you can do. And its not very little. Its not just small. Its, have a big party at your place on election day and invite all your strange relatives who say they cant be bothered voting, and by inviting everybody and taking them all down to the polling booth, and you’ll be feeling good about it and you’ll be going to greater things. [Audience applause].
And forget Cameron Slater. Cameron Slater has been used and he is a tool in these politics, but the story is not really about him. I want to name the 2 enemies which I see of clean and good politics in this country. And one of them is cynicism, and the other one is pessimism. Cynicism is where we believe and say everyone does it, all politicians are the same – they are [all] self serving, they’ve got their snouts in the trough and the rest of it. I don’t believe that. I just don’t think its true. The other thing. Pessimism, is feeling that its all hopeless and everything gets worse. Which is what it looks like when
you look at all the bad things that happen in society, and forget to look at all the good ones. I don’t feel cynical. I think that most people have really good values can care about these things. That’s why I can write a book like this and it resonates so strongly and I don’t feel pessimistic. Because my whole life has shown me that things re better when we bother to speak up about what we believe in. [Audience applause] And the main thing I want to say is – I said it at the beginning – I’ve just about finished on this. The main thing I want to say is – what I said at the beginning is I don’t want – I did not want to write a book about sleaze and slim. I believe its a book about ethics. And what a book about ethics means is that if you read it, and if we talk about the issues and we look at expediency verses principle and how do we treat each other – what its worth to be fair verses what its like to be pragmatic and playing dirty tricks and things we can decide what values we wants to build up our society on. And what I’m really saying is – what I would hope when people read this – is that they look at it and they see the choices in there and the choose what side they want to be on. The good politics or the dirty politics. And what we are going to do about it, to change it. Thank-you
[38:47 applause and standing ovation. NB that a question and answers session followed this talk by Nick, but as of 31st Aug the video is not yet available so no transcript has been made]
Negative Politics (definition).: A tactic developed by the U.S. Republican party, which focuses on damaging the reputation of political opponents by use of conventional and non-conventional news media. The attack is not done with the intention of protecting society from crime. Rather, negative politics is done with the goal that by using such attacks to lower the reputation of an opposing person or party, this will result in ones own political party or candidate appearing to be more popular by comparison in the eyes of the public.
Two Track Policy (definition): A two track negative politics policy means that a division is made within a group between 1) the leader/s who promote the themselves and their party in an inspiring positive light, and 2) those that focus on the negative politics of damaging the reputation of their opponents. The division is made so that if people detect and react adversely to the slander of negative politics, then the separation between the 2 “tracks” will protect the leader/s from any risk of backlash.
New documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden show New Zealand’s GCSB closely enmeshed with some of the most controversial parts of the United States’ spying apparatus.
The documents were released with journalist Glenn Greenwald’s new book No Place To Hide, which tells the story of Snowden’s National Security Agency disclosures and what they mean.
Among the documents are a cluster relating to New Zealand which show:
* our GCSB spies were shown instructional slides on how to operate the X-Keyscore surveillance program which trawls mass harvested email addresses, phone numbers, online chat, web-based email and attachments sent;
* they were privy to diplomatic espionage by other Five Eyes partners, including spying which was Canadian spies capturing the emails, text messages and phone calls between the Brazilian president and her aides;
* they were briefed on the NSA’s efforts to deliberately put backdoors into private companies’ computer networks;
* and the were given access to a program called “Homing Pigeon” which allowed in-air communications on passenger jets to be monitored.
One NSA document tells New Zealand and its other “Five Eyes” intelligence partners the ambition is to “know it all”, “collect it all”, “exploit it all” and “partner it all”.
The details were in a slide presented at a Five Eyes conference in 2011, released with journalist Glenn Greenwald’s new book No Place To Hide.
He also released another NSA slide detailing new invasive techniques, in which it stated the spy agency was “one step closer to ‘collecting it all”‘.
The no-limits approach by the NSA is reflected locally in details released to the Herald through the Official Information Act.
Excerpts of a “GCSB Strategy” from 2008 stated “complete mastery of the internet (even if we take this to mean just the internet) is a Nirvana that everyone is working towards”.
The document stated it was “an almost impossible vision” but one which was “intended to stretch the organisation”.
At the time the GCSB had given itself the vision statement “Mastery of the Cyberspace for the Security of New Zealand”. In March last year, as it prepared to release details showing the GCSB had illegally spied on Kiwis, it changed the statement to the less confrontational “Guardianship of the Security of New Zealand”.
In his book, Mr Greenwald said “Five Eyes members share most of their surveillance activities and meet each year at a Signal Development conference where they boast of their expansion and the prior year’s successes”.
The description – and the NSA’s desire to “partner it all” – clash with previous comments by Mr Key, who had previously claimed there was limited sharing.
“We share information in isolated cases about New Zealanders with our partners, and we do that when there’s a really good reason to do that.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Key said “we do not comment on matters of intelligence or national security, but as the Prime Minister has stated in the past, we do not carry out wholesale collection of metadata”.
The spokeswoman said the GCSB acted within the law. “The PM does not comment on the GCSB’s capabilities or operational activity.”
Green co-leader Russel Norman said the Prime Minister’s refusal to talk about how spies worked meant the public could not judge the extent of the intrusion.
“You have to talk about the tools that are used to understand the sort of mass surveillance intelligence agencies are engaged in.
“The reason the Prime Minister doesn’t want to talk about it and says it operational is because everyone will realise what’s going on and then the game is up.”
Despite being personally invited to Richard Gage’s presentation in Auckland in 2009 and having correspondence with Auckland 911 truth activists and a face to face meeting (thanks to Martin and Glenis), Professor Charles Clifton, associate professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Auckland, denies the existence of ae911truth supporters in New Zealand. Professor Clifton still clings to his theory regarding the collapse of the World Trade Centre where he essentially believes that the the plane destroyed a large chunk of the core immediately at impact which severely weakened the rest of the structure. See his study on the collapse of the twin towers here.
No, they are not. Richard Gage came to New Zealand for a speaking tour. I couldn’t go to his presentation due to other commitments but he got very little publicity, little credit and not much following. As far as I am aware there is not a serious group of WTC conspiracy theorists in New Zealand.
We have responded with the following comment that has not been displayed at the Italian debunking website.
Did Richard Gage come to New Zealand and speak to hundreds of people in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland (as Charles Clifton admits) or did he not?
If Richard Gage actually came to New Zealand in 2009, who paid the thousands of dollars it would have taken to get him here, print 10,000 flyers, organise articles in local papers and the interviews on TVNZ and Radio NZ? Such was the interest in Mr Gage’s presentation that in November 2009 over 600 people attended the exhibition at the National Museum in Wellington with another 100 turned away due to lack of room. The Auckland presentation organised by Auckland activists at short notice after the Wellington presentation attracted 200. Mr Gage’s New Zealand tour was subsequently written about in articles in the Listener, Architecture Magazine, discussed on Radio New Zealand’s afternoon panel and talked about on science and political blogs.
Who runs and financially supports the NZ911Truth website and has distributed many thousands of DVDs and flyers regularly every month on the streets of Wellington since 2008? Who organizes the annual 911 exhibitions in Wellington and Rotorua which attract growing numbers every year?
Who paid for the recent Rethink911 posters displayed on the streets near the Radio New Zealand and Dominion Post newspaper offices in central Wellington? Who invited Mr Clifton to the Auckland presentation and has corresponded with him since? In addition to a good number of activists throughout New Zealand there are also hundreds of New Zealanders who have signed ae911truth’s petition calling for a new, genuine 911 investigation.
We have given up long ago on trying to disabuse Charles Clifton of his Magical Thinking on 911. However, we must refute his false assertion – a statement he knows to be false – where he denies that New Zealanders who support the work of ae911truth actually exist. He has had enough contact with us and has sufficient knowledge of our activities to know that he is making a false statement.
Yesterday Prime Minister John Key justified the extrajudicial killing of a New Zealander in a US drone strike in Yemen with a few cynical, callous words at a stand-up press conference.
Key said he’d been briefed by our spy agencies that apparently this New Zealander was a terrorist who went to a terrorist training camp in Yemen and that Key thought these types of drone strikes were justified when dealing with “these types of people.
I’ve no idea what this murdered New Zealander was doing in Yemen – and I’m certain neither does John Key. The US National Security Agency has fed selective information about the strike to our GCSB which has fed selective information to the Prime Minister who has fed selective information to the hapless public of New Zealand.
Other media reports at the time of the drone strike in August 2013 said it took out “suspected al-Qaida operatives”. Who would know? In fact the majority of people killed in US drone strikes have been civilians.
A Human Rights Watch report released last year examined six such strikes in Yemen carried out between 2009–2013 and found that of the 82 people killed, at least 57 were civilians. Was this New Zealander just more collateral damage? We don’t know and we can’t expect the government or our spy agencies to tell us.
The HRW report also concluded that the drone strikes it examined “may have violated the laws of war because the individual attacked was not a lawful military target or the attack caused disproportionate civilian harm.”
All we do know for sure is that this New Zealander never got charged, never got a trial but that somewhere in the US a decision was made for the mass assassination of a group he was with – the kind of murderous act which has been condemned by governments and human rights groups around the world.
Here are a few critical questions for our Prime Minister.
•What evidence is there this New Zealander was a “terrorist” or was the label added after his death to justify the crime?
•How long had the GCSB been spying on him?
•Why was he allowed to travel overseas when other New Zealanders wanting to go overseas to fight in places like Syria for example have had their passports seized?
•What was he doing when he was killed?
•Why did the US launch a drone strike against him?
•If there was evidence of terrorist activity why was he not simply arrested when he returned to New Zealand or entered a third country?
•Was New Zealand informed by the US before they attacked and killed this kiwi citizen?
•If so what was the response of our spy agencies and their political master John Key?
•If New Zealand was not informed then why not?
•In aligning this country in support for US drone strikes what additional terrorist threat does that expose New Zealanders to?
•Why did the government not make the information about the killing public at the time when it occurred?
•Would the government ever have made this public if the information has not leaked out?
In typically cynical fashion Key is using this incident to bolster support for the GCSB and the massive increase in the power it was given last year to spy on us. He says it shows why we need the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders.
No it doesn’t My Key – it shows why the GCSB must be closed and why New Zealand must develop an independent foreign policy rather than one which aligns to deadly US foreign policy and increases the risk of terrorist attacks on New Zealanders.
Snowden: US helped create loopholes in NZ law
3:12 PM Tuesday Mar 11, 2014
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden says the United States’ spy agency has helped find or create loopholes in New Zealand law to enable widespread spying.
In testimony to the European Parliament, the exiled former NSA worker said the agency’s Foreign Affairs Division put pressure on other countries to change laws to create legal gaps through which mass surveillance could be carried out.
A Customs officer at Auckland International Airport took law graduate Sam Blackman’s two smartphones, iPad, an external hard drive and laptop – and demanded his passwords.
Mr Blackman, 27, who was breaking up travelling with his journalist fiance Imogen Crispe for a month back in New Zealand for Christmas, was initially given no reason why the gear was taken.
The only possibility of why it occurred was his attendance – and tweeting – of a London meeting on mass surveillance sparked by the Snowden revelations, he said.
However, a Customs official has since told him they were searching everything for objectionable material under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.
Mr Blackman said he did not have anything of that nature and could not understand why he had been targeted.
Mr Blackman arrived in Auckland at 5.30am on a flight from Heathrow, travelling through San Francisco.
He declared loose-leaf tea he was carrying as he came through Customs and believed that was responsible for the extensive bag search to which he was subjected.
“He said ‘we’re not worried about the tea’,” Mr Blackman said of the Customs’ official.
The official then returned to going through the bag, pulling out electronic equipment as he did so. “We’re going to have to detain this,” Mr Blackman said he was told. “We’re going to have to send this to a forensic investigator.”
Mr Blackman said when he pulled a phone out of his pocket, the official also took that, refusing permission for him to call his parents who were waiting in the arrival lounge.
He said he was also told to provide passwords for the equipment. “That is a real invasion of privacy.”
One of the phones had no password but required a design to be traced on the screen. The official was unconcerned and said the forensic team would defeat security to access the device, Mr Blackman claimed.
He said he asked why the items were being confiscated and the official refused to say – or to say how long the items would be kept.
Earlier, Mr Blackman said he thought it may have occurred because of his attendance at the London meeting on mass surveillance.
In November, Mr Blackman and Ms Crispe attended a meeting at the Royal Institute of British Architects attended by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, MPs from across Europe, and spokespeople from groups opposing spying.
A Customs’ spokeswoman refused to discuss Mr Blackman’s case. She said passengers considered “high risk”received attention at the airport. She also said Customs officials were required to have “reasonable cause”to believe an offence had been committed.
“Information or data may be used as evidence of an offence or may be a prohibited item such as objectionable images.”
TechLiberty director Thomas Beagle said the seizure of phones and laptops was a “major interference in your life”in the modern world.
He said Customs law had a pre-digital focus which, when applied to the technical age, did not take into account the amount of personal information or the frequency of use.
“What does this mean for other people? You really have to consider what you take over the border.”
Mr Beagle said his understanding of the law was that travellers did not have to surrender their passwords.
However, he said it meant it was likely the device of interest would then not be allowed into the country.
National Radio is widely regarded by intelligent, educated citizens as a treasure, to be protected at all costs against cheap commercialization. Coverage of contentious topics such as global warming by radio talkback hosts is invariably slanted and superficial, to the point where it is a moot question as to whether it constitutes journalism at all.
It was therefore a great disappointment that the interview you conducted with Dr. Simon Pollard on Wednesday November 20th fell far short of the high journalistic standards one has come to expect of National Radio.
The interview was entitled “Science with Simon Pollard”, but where was the science? As a retired science teacher I would have expected some presentation of evidence for the assertions made. In that way, listeners could use their brains to come to their own conclusions — rather than have their thinking done for them — as is so often the case in the corporately owned mass media.
But no. Dr. Pollard made a number of statements that positively invited cross-examination, but instead you uncritically agreed with him. Although Dr. Pollard’s comments related mainly to the Kennedy assassination, he did make a number of references to 911 — about which I know quite a lot. The tone of his comments was disparaging and condescending, and to those of us who have researched 911 in depth, they were insulting.
At this stage, I hope it is simply the case that you have been guilty of nothing more than uncritically accepting the explanation put out by the corporate media. In this respect, I was taken in too, until my son showed me his copy of The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin. The Foreword caught my attention because it was by Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. It seemed to me that the book he was endorsing was at least worth a second look, so I began to read. In book, Prof. Griffin presents detailed evidence that the official explanation for the events of 911 cannot be true. His nine later books add even more evidence, all of it in the public domain and fully referenced.
Professor Griffin is but one of a large number of academics and other professionals round the world, who have called for a new and independent inquiry (Phillip Zelikow, who ran the 911 Commission Inquiry, was closely linked to the White House). I’m sure you’d agree that people in such high positions are unlikely to be crackpots. Therefore, we should at least pay attention to what they have to say, rather than uncritically accepting put-downs by an arachnologist. In the spirit of the scientific method, we should study the evidence for ourselves.
In dismissing those who are skeptical of the official explanation for 911, Dr. Pollard used the put-down term ‘conspiracy theorist’, a term that was first introduced into the public lexicon by the CIA after doubts were raised about the Warren Commission Report into the Kennedy assassination.
A democracy can only survive if its citizens are informed and, above all, free to question government accounts of events. A fundamental prerequisite for this is the existence of untrammelled, independent media. For National Radio to fulfill this requirement, intelligent listeners who present reasoned argument against orthodoxy should not be dismissed without giving them an opportunity to present evidence in support of their concerns.
There is another aspect to this, which may not have occurred to you. There are people in the National and Act parties who are itching to privatize National Radio. This would be a tragedy, for we would then have descended to the same level as characterizes commercial broadcasting in the United States. If the extinction of quality, independent radio does loom, we can be sure that the strongest argument will come from those who fear that the treatment of political issues will be limited to sound bites by ‘talking heads’. As Noam Chomsky famously said:
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum”.
I hope that your interview with Simon Pollard is not an indication that we have already arrived at such a state of affairs without the assistance of the National Government.