Poor John Key.
It must be hard for a Prime Minister to keep up a far-fetched façade for as long as John Key has in denying GCSB involvement in mass surveillance of New Zealanders.
Confusing and confounding the public with smelly red herrings is a normal part of his job but when Key has to explain again and again because his previous dishonesty has been exposed and new obfuscations are needed it gets tedious and frustrating.
This week in the face of incontrovertible evidence that the GCSB conducts mass surveillance of our Pacific neighbours and sends the unprocessed data direct to the US National Security Agency the Prime Minister cracked. He offered no counter argument or evidence but simply delivered strident attacks on the messengers – Nicky Hagar in particular – who were exposing his various fabrications.
In the normal course of politics a Prime Minister wouldn’t get away with any of this but he has two important factors on his side.
Firstly the mainstream media have poo-poohed the latest revelations. They say it tells us nothing we didn’t already know and are ready to move on. So aside from widely reporting the Prime Minister’s incredulous bluff and bluster there has yet been little deeper analysis.
Secondly and just as important to Key’s position is that Labour has essentially the same policy and Labour leader Andrew Little’s comments have simply added to the smokescreen John Key is doing his best to create around this issue.
In my lifetime the Labour Party has been as tightly wedded to unquestioned support for US global surveillance as National. Even when the rift over access to New Zealand ports for US nuclear warships came to a head in the mid-1980s under Labour and the US directed heavy criticism of New Zealand’s position, the flow of surveillance information to the US continued untroubled. It was under a Labour government that the Waihopai mass surveillance spybase was commissioned to ensure the New Zealand “deep state” kept up business as usual with the National Security Agency.
So while Labour expresses concern at indiscriminate mass surveillance it has no policy alternative to National. The best it would come up with during last year’s election campaign was support for a “security review” to ensure the GCSB was following the law. In other words business as usual.
Later this year the government will conduct a security review of our intelligence agencies with Labour on board and we can be absolutely assured the outcome will ensure the GCSB can continue to provide unfettered support for global mass surveillance by the US.
We owe a huge debt to people like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Katharine Gunn and Nicky Hagar who have exposed global mass surveillance an in whose interests it operates. It is over to us as citizens to act on it.