And. We. Should. Not. Let. Them.
State spies editing intelligence to give a false impression of a political opponent of the Government is as bad as it gets. The only thing worse than what they’ve been caught doing would be an open FaceBook conversation between Key, the head of the GCSB, Military Chief-of-staffs, Cameron Slater and Vladimir Putin about mounting a military coup.
The news media crucified Helen Clark for signing a painting she didn’t paint, crucified her over a speeding ticket and crucified her over water saving shower heads and power saving lightbulbs, yet here is the Prime Minister’s Office directing the use of the State Intelligence apparatus to hand someone as unstable as Slater edited state secrets to attack Labour with.
Other questions are now raised, did Judith Collins feed Slater for the same purposes? Why was Key allowed to declassify intelligence reports for political gain? And why were the security reviews for these new SIS powers never written?
All of this is an abuse of power that tracks directly into John Key’s office. The idea Key, who runs the state spy agency and who rings Slater regularly, didn’t know what was going on is simply unbelievable.
But that’s not the only unbelievable part of this gross abuse of power. Using Muslims to frighten NZers so Key can ram through new SIS powers under urgency before Christmas is divisive hate politics at their most Machiavellian.
What is truly horrifying about allowing the SIS to break into our homes and plant cameras to record us for 48 hours without a warrant, is that these powers have already been given to the NZ Police.
When the Police were caught illegally spying on the Urewera ‘terrorists’, Key ‘punished’ them by retrospectively cleansing the Police of any illegality and he legalised that kind of warrantless spying. The NZ Police, who have shown time and time again that they are a law unto themselves with very poor legal oversights, should not have such extraordinary search and surveillance powers and the Search and Surveillance Bill remains one of the great civil right erosions committed by this Government.
In the case of the Police, the media spin was these powers needed to be used against organised crime. The trick however was that for the powers to be invoked, the definition of ‘gang’ had to be met. That definition was 3 people who knew each other and had the same motive. That allows for far more people than just organised crime.
The reason why the SIS are now gaining these powers is that there must be some trepidation within the police force to start using these powers against activists, so the SIS will gain them and do it instead. On The Nation last weekend, Chris Finlayson let slip the most important aspect of this new power, that it won’t be just used against religious groups. This time around the bogeymen being used to spook us is Islamic Terrorists, yet the power for the SIS to break into our homes, plant spy cameras and spy on us for 48 hours without a warrant can be used against everyone.
We were conned into letting the Police have this power, we are being conned again to let them have even more power in the wake of a damning report showing they are abusing the power they currently have.
Key dismissed Dirty Politics and Nicky Hager as left wing conspiracy theorists and the NZ public believed him and re-elected him with an even larger majority. The scope of criticism in this report however demands a Royal Commission of Inquiry, and that is what must now be demanded by even those who voted National.
This isn’t about right wing or left wing, this is about Executive Power and its misuse. If we tolerate this, if we simply shrug and say it’s politics as usual, then we stand for nothing.
Our democracy deserves better than this.