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Posts Tagged ‘Security Intelligence Service’

National’s disdain for the law

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Prime Minister John Key on the phone to GCSB boss - and mate - Ian Fletcher

Prime Minister John Key on the phone to GCSB boss – and mate – Ian Fletcher

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 ’Fixing’ the Law when it’s ‘broken’…

As some folk are aware, I have a somewhat “colourful” past. As a young bloke I got carried away with stupid activities; bad driving habits (I saw the speed limit as a ‘recommendation’); heavy boozing; partying; and got on the wrong side of the law. One singular act of stupidity caught up with me over three decades later.

It was only in my mid-twenties and onwards that I started to grow up and – with the help of a few folk – managed to turn my wayward craziness into more productive activities. (Curiously, at the same time I found my political views  moving from centre-right to centre-left… Correlation? Dunno.)

Something I eventually  learned was that the law was there for a reason and the Universe did not revolve around my selfish desires. The law would not change for me – I had to make that change within myself.

Imagine my surprise then, that I have now discovered that the law can be changed for those committing illegal acts,

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Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis

Acknowledgement: Newstalk ZB:  Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis

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So let’s see if I have this right…

  • The GCSB acted illegally by spying on 88 New Zealanders/permanent residents,
  • John Key accepts that they acted outside the law
  • Instead of holding the Bureau accountable, the law will be changed to accomodate their illegality – in effect rewarding them, as Green co-leader, Russell Norman said?

My oh my… So that’s how the system works for those in power? They don’t have to be held accountable – the law can be  amended to sweep their wrong-doing under the carpet!?

I don’t know what the  1,058,638 voters who voted for National think of this. Especially when one of National’s main policy platforms during the 2011 election was the usual “tough on crime”  rhetoric,

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National Party staying strong on crime

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Not so “strong on crime” after all, I guess. Not when it involves a government agency for which  Dear Leader Key himself holds direct responsibility.

I know that New Zealanders have a fetishistic respect for Authority, but isn’t this going several steps too far?

Do we really want the entire GCSB apparatus (paid from our taxes) spying on us?

Do we really want to be taking a step closer to Big Brother watching our every move?

And if National Party supporters are comfortable reading this – before you shrug your shoulders dismissively, just consider for a moment  that the same increased powers of State surveillance will  also be wielded by the next Labour-led government.  How does that grab ya?

Break the law?

No problemo.

We’ll just change it.

John Key has stated,

I think GCSB should be able to provide agencies support for NZSIS, under the right conditions and with the right oversight.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Really?!?! Like… “the right oversight” that the  Prime Minister had over the GCSB since 2008? Is that the kind of  “right oversight” that he’s referring to?

Now why is it, I wonder, that his reassurances that the  “GCSB should be able to provide agencies support for NZSIS, under the right conditions and with the right oversight” – does not fill me with much confidence?

In fact, why is it that nothing Key sez or does gives me any confidence whatsoever?

Because I’ll share this with the reader for free; if Key couldn’t provide the  ” right oversight ” for the GCSB at it is now – why should we trust it with further enhancing their powers?!?!

The reality appears that National’s plan to legitamise the Bureau’s spying on New Zealanders shows a disdain for the law that, up till now, has only been evident in despotic regimes such as Zimbabwe. This is a dangerous road for any goverment to take.

When an arm of the State breaks the law, the correct response is not to pass laws which legitamises that law-breaking.

It frightens the hell out of me that, in the year 2013AD, this is where New Zealand has arrived. And isn’t it scary when bloggers have to point this out to all and sundry?!

All the previous assurances in the last forty years, from successive governments, that the power of the State will be firmly controlled and monitored – has ultimately proved to be futile. And now the minister for revenue and hairstyling, Peter Dunne, wants to extend information sharing between the IRD and other government agencies, promising us,

Client privacy and confidentiality is paramount in this process.

Acknowledgement: Law Society – IRD and MSD information sharing to be expanded

By the way. Whoever writes these Press Releases should changed the wording,

“Protecting people’s rights to privacy and confidentiality are critical,” Ms Collins says.”

Acknowledgement: The Beehive – Tax info-sharing may help fight crime

So if John Key gets his way, and the GCSB is allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, what’s next? (Because in a few year’s time, the government will want more power for XYZ reasons. Governments are never content with the powers they are given.)

What will follow next? A  “special police force” attached to a more powerful SIS/GCSB entity?

Laws to detain dissidents who might oppose corporate investors or protest at visiting ‘dignitaries’ from other countries where human rights is an arcane, alien concept?

Or even laws which threaten to impose hefty fines and/or jail terms for those who dare protest corporate power?

Like this…

 

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Addendum

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NZ First offers support for spy law changes

Acknowledgement:  Radio NZ – NZ First offers support for spy law changes (16 April 2013)

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Trust NZ First to prop up National’s anti-democratic laws. Wouldn’t it be  exquisite irony if the GCSB and SIS have both spied on Winston Peters and recorded some of his shenanigans…

Continued at: National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 April 2013.

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Previous related blogposts

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do.

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

References

Beehive:  Tax info-sharing may help fight crime (9 April 2013)

Radio NZ: Govt proposes IRD share info with police (9 April 2013)

Newstalk ZB:  Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis (10 April 2013)

NZ Herald: GCSB needs more oversight – Key (10 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  John Armstrong: GCSB trickery and deception revealed (11 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  PM out to turn tables on rivals over GCSB (13 April 2013)

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: The Conspirators

The Daily Blog: The Guts and the Authority: Curbing the Powers of the GCSB

The Daily Blog: Worse Than We Thought: Rebecca Kitteridge and the New “Community” of Spooks

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Spy VS Politician

29 September 2012 23 comments

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You have reached the office of Planet Key. All our agents are busy undermining your rights and selling your assets. Goodbye.” – Kim Dotcom on Twitter, 24 September 2012

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1. Firstly, some relevant background;

A. Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ)

What is OFCANZ? 
OFCANZ is the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand. It was established on 1 July 2008 to combat serious organised crime. 
 
Is OFCANZ part of New Zealand Police? 
OFCANZ is a discrete agency that is hosted within New Zealand Police. It takes a whole-of-government approach, working with information and resources from a range of agencies.
 
Is the Serious Fraud Office part of OFCANZ? 
No. The Serious Fraud Office investigates serious and complex fraud, especially commercial fraud.  OFCANZ will concentrate on fraud that relates to organised crime. The two agencies will continue to collaborate where appropriate as sometimes these two types of financial crime can overlap.
 
Who will do OFCANZ work? 
Staff for operational activities will be drawn from OFCANZ, Police and other agencies through secondments and taskforces. 
 
How will OFCANZ work be prioritised and assigned? 
OFCANZ activity is ultimately the responsibility of the Commissioner of Police; the Commissioner will seek advice on OFCANZ focus areas (priorities) from the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC)
Once the Commissioner tasks OFCANZ to work on the focus areas, the intelligence process will identify targets within those focus areas. Taskforces will operate against the targets, and use a variety of methods to investigate and disrupt the targets’ activities.

Source: OFCANZ

B. Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC)

When the GCSB was established in 1977, oversight in the sense of both operational supervision and policy guidance, in addition to a general overview of the Bureau’s management was provided by a Committee of Controlling Officials (CCO) chaired by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Department. In December 1983 the existence of this Committee was published in the Directory of Official Information. In 1989 the CCO was disestablished and the responsibility for oversight and policy guidance of the Bureau was assumed by the new Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC).

Source: GCSB – Oversight

Points A and B explain the connection between the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) and the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ).

OFCANZ was  in charge of the Dotcom case and subsequent raid on the Coatsville Mansion.

‘Oversight and policy guidance‘ of the GCSB is the responsibility of ODESC,

“The Police Commissioner will seek advice on OFCANZ focus areas (priorities) from the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC).”

ODESC is chaired by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Department.

C. Key’s letter To Judge Paul Neazor

Prime Minister

17 September 2012

Hon Paul Neazor CNZM, QC
Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

Dear Inspector-General,

KIM DOTCOM AND ORS V ATTORNEY-GENERAL – RESIDENCY STATUS ISSUE

As I have been briefed today by the Director of GCSB, and as I understand you have now been made aware, the GCSB has discovered that it acted unlawfully in intercepting the communications of certain individuals connected with the above case, apparently acting in the erroneous belief that they were foreign persons when in fact they held New Zealand residency status.

I would be grateful if you would undertake without delay an inquiry into the circumstances of this matter and provide me with a report which identifies:

The facts of the case;

An assessment ofthe circumstances including any errors by the Bureau and its officers; and

Any measures which you consider necessary in order to prevent a recurrence.

I look forward to receiving your report as soon as possible.

Yoursrs sincerely
Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister

D. To which Judge Neazor replied with this report,  ten days later,

INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY
THE HON D.P. NEAZOR CNZM

27 September 2012

The Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister
Parliament Building
WELLINGTON

Dear Prime Minister

KIM DOTCOM AND OTHERS v ATTORNEY-GENERAL – RESIDENCY STATUS

This report relates to your request on 17 September that I should enquire into action by the GCSB affecting Kim Dotcom and others including making an assessment of errors. The Bureau has reported to you that there appears to have been a breach of statutory restrictions applicable to the collection work of the GCSB.

Background:

Kim Dotcom is in dispute with United States authorities about the accumulation of sums of money, the gathering of which may have given rise to allegations of criminal activity in the United States which the authorities there wish to pursue. That pursuit may well involve an attempt by Court proceedings to extradite Kim Dotcom and others to the United States, involving questions of discovery of documents and arrest of persons, Kim Dotcom and others.

New Zealand Police involvement in the event:

A specialist group of New Zealand Police Officers has been involved in assisting the United States authorities and investigating a couple of related New Zealand matters. As part of the New Zealand Police assistance, communications passed between the Police group and GCSB. Those communications were related to a proposal to arrest Kim Dotcom and associated persons. lt was believed by Police Officers that these persons could present potential danger to officers and others involved if the attempted arrest was made. With that belief it was important for the Police to know what action Dotcom and associated people might plan to take and where; i.e. they sought intelligence about possible events. The documents show that information was collected about Dotcom and his associates by the Bureau (largely about their movements or possible movements at relevant times) and passed on to the Police. In my view, considered on its own, the passing on as such could have been lawful but the collection in the circumstances was not. The documents I have seen which record the events do not disclose any interest or inquiry by GCSB about the facts or events of Dotcom’s disputed activity; just where he might be and who might be with him.

Involvement of the GCSB Mechanism:

Like other countries, New Zealand has Government agencies whose task is, covertly if necessary, to collect and report on information which is relevant to security. information is obtained by various appropriate techniques which it is unnecessary to set out. The relevant New Zealand agencies are the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau. Only the latter is involved in this event. The mandate of each agency is set out in an Act of Parliament which is designed to control the range of the agency’s enquiry and how it works, Each agency’s work is not at large; it is limited by its controlling Act.

GCSB Gathering and Retaining Information and Dealing with Crime: For present purposes GCSB has the specific functions of gathering foreign intelligence, in accordance with the foreign intelligence requirements of the Government of New Zealand:

(i) by intercepting communications under the authority of the GCSB Act 2003;

(ii) by collecting information in any other lawful manner.

Another of the Bureau’s functions is to provide advice and assistance to any public authority in New Zealand on any matter that is relevant to the functions of the public authority or other entity and to a purpose specified in the Act e.g. to pursue the GCSB’s objective of the provision of foreign intelligence that the Government in New Zealand requires, to protect the safety of any person, and in support of the prevention or detection of serious crime. The Bureau has other specified functions, but these are what is presently relevant.

The Bureau is specifically empowered to retain any intercepted communication if its content relates to the Bureaus’ objective or functions.

lt may for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime in New Zealand or in any other country, retain information that comes into its possession and may communicate that information to members of the New Zealand Police. Hence my view that passing information to the Police could be lawful.

Foreign Element:

This is the significant factor in the present case.

The Bureau is intended to collect foreign intelligence only. That theme runs through the whole Act. All of the provisions authorising collection of intelligence and communications are related to what is “foreign” – “foreign inte//igence” (s.7 (i) (a) and (b)), (s.8 (i) (a)) “foreign communications” (s.8) and prohibition against targeting domestic communications (ss. 13, 14, 16 and 19).

A descriptive process is used in the GCSB Act. Examples are-

“foreign communications means communications that contain, or may reasonably be expected to contain, foreign intelligence”.

“foreign intelligence means information about the capabilities, intentions, or activities of a foreign organisation or a foreign person “.

”foreign person means an individual who is neither a New Zealand Citizen nor a permanent resident…”.

“permanent resident means a person who is, or who is deemed to be, the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act 2009. “

The first inquiry as to whether a person is to be regarded as “foreign” under this Act is related to citizenship or permanent residence. lf the person concerned does not have one of those statuses, he or she is foreign for the purpose of the GCSB Act and his or her communications are not protected. If the person is a citizen of New Zealand or a permanent resident his or her communications are protected. People in the permanent residence category were originally described in the GCSB Act as the holder of a residence permit but are now described by a concept called a “residence class visa”.

The Immigration material I have seen in respect of Dotcom shows that he was granted a residence visa offshore under the Immigration Act 1987, Investor Plus category, in November 2010. At that point in time he did not meet the deinition of ‘permanent residence’ under the GCSB Act as it then was.

However, before he arrived in New Zealand the new Immigration Act 2009 came into force on 29 November 2010 and deemed him to hold a residence class visa from that point in time. He met the definition of ‘permanent resident’ for the purposes of the GCSB Act accordingly.

Although Dotcom’s status is subject to monetary and residential conditions for a period of three years short of actually being deported l\/lr Dotcom retains his immigration residence status and remains a permanent resident for the purposes of the GCSB Act.

It was on my understanding not recognised that Dotcom as the holder of a resident visa under a particular category provided for by the Immigration Act was therefore a ‘permanent resident’ (and thus a protected person) under the GCSB Act.

Potential for confusion:

Dotcom is not on my understanding a New Zealand citizen – he is Finnish or German. He is however one of a category of people who is treated in New Zealand as if he ought to have protection against collection of his information. This result has come about by reference to and application of the Immigration Act. That he (and others) has protection of their communications under the GCSB Act is simply an effect of what has happened under the Immigration Act, so long as the relevant words apply to him.

As this matter went along what was discovered in the case of Dotcom and associated people was that resident status had been obtained on their behalf under the Immigration Act 1987 and carried forward under the later 2009 Act. It was understood incorrectly by the GCSB that a further step in the immigration process would have to be taken before Dotcom and associates had protection against interception of communications.

Leaving aside possible confusion arising from the effect of the permit to be in New Zealand Dotcom and party had, the application made by the Police to GCSB was a proper one: the request was made on the basis that the information sought was foreign intelligence contributing to the function of the New Zealand Police and supporting the prevention or detection of crime. The GCSB acting on it was proper.

Enquiry was made during the activity in an attempt to ensure that the Bureau acted within its legal mandate as to what it can collect. The illegality arose because of changes in the Immigration Act wording and some confusion about which category Dotcom was in thereafter.

Complete avoidance of a recurrence will only come about if the system is such that those requesting assistance from the Bureau about non citizens check with Immigration the immigration status of people who may become targets to be sure of what their immigration status in fact is (not may be) in terms of the GCSB Act definitions and tell the Bureau what they have ascertained. It is important to realise that what the GCSB may do is governed finally by the GCSB Act, not the Immigration Act. Because the law allows the covert collection of information about only some people in New Zealand, the events demonstrate that it is important to be sure at all times of the proposed target’s legal status in the country.

Summary:

– In my view the only issue of illegality arises in this matter from confusion in this instance between the case of a person transferring funds and the general category of residents .

– The GCSB is controlled by its governing Act in what it may do. That Act makes it clear that the Bureau is intended to collect foreign intelligence only, but that includes the function of assisting the Police by gathering foreign intelligence for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime.

– A foreign person for the purpose of the GCSB Act is someone who is neither a New Zealand citizen nor (now) the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act.

– People who hold a residence class visa under the Immigration Act have protection against the collection of information under the GCSB Act even if they are not classified as a citizen.

– In this case it was recognised that Dotcom was not a New Zealand citizen. He was classed as the holder of a residence class visa in a particular category but it was not apparent to the Police or GCSB that he thereby fell into a protected category. Because he should have been regarded as in such a category, collection was not allowed under the GCSB Act and in that way illegal.

– Collection had in fact stopped before it was recognised that he did fall within a protected category..

– The information sought to be collected did not relate to the details or merits of his dispute in the US. It was about where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time.

Recommendation to prevent recurrence:

16. Since occasions for the Police to seek assistance from GCSB in matters of safety or security will assuredly arise again under the GCSB Act as it stands, what is needed is assurance available to GCSB that the subject of the information sought is not protected by the terms of the GCSB Act, i.e.

that the person concerned is not a New Zealand citizen, that he or she is not a permanent resident and is not the holder of a residence class visa under the Immigration Act. There will need to be alertness that:

(i) the wording of the provisions of the GCSB Act are controlling;

(ii) since the relevant wording of either Act may change it would be useful for the applicant for assistance to advise what factors as to status they rely on, and what words in the GCSB Act they rely on for their application.

Yours sincerely
D P Nealzor
Inspector-General

(Source: Scoop.co.nz)

2. Three Subsequent Questions;

A. Evidence given under oath by Detective Inspector Grant Wormald, head of the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand

It has been established that,

Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison told the High Court at Auckland yesterday that Mr Wormald had said in evidence on August 9 there was no surveillance of Dotcom undertaken by anyone other than New Zealand police to his knowledge.

However, the GCSB were engaged by police to monitor Dotcom for at least a month before his arrest in January and attended a meeting with police and Crown Law before the raids. “

See: Dotcom’s lawyers question police statements

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Source

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During the exchange between QC Paul Davison and Detective Inspector  Wormald, in the video clip above, the latter stated,

DAVISON: was there any other surveillance being undertaken here in New Zealand, to your knowledge?

WORMALD: No there wasn’t.”

Detective Inspector  Wormald,  head of  the Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ),  and planner and over-seer of the Coatsville mansion raid,   would have been privy to all matters relating to the Dotcom Case, and would most certainly have known the source of  ‘intelligence’ – the GCSB.

See: Raid planner continues Dotcom evidence

GCSB agents even attended a December meeting about the raid.

(See:  Dotcom saga rebounds on Key Government)

It is inconceivable that Detective Inspector  Wormald had no idea where information was coming from. (Because quite simply, if he didn’t know – wouldn’t he have asked, to ensure the information was valid?)

As outlined above, Detective Inspector  Wormald is head of OFCANZ, which is linked to ODESC, which has  oversight and policy guidance of the GCSB.

Kim Dotcom’s lawyer, Paul Davison said,

There are very grave and significant implications arising from this recent discovery. We had evidence from an officer on oath and we have some other material which makes it look to be inconsistent with that.”

No wonder Mr Davison was concerned.

Which means that Detective Inspector  Wormald perjured  himself whilst in the Witness Stand.

Which raises the first question: How much of the Dotcom case is similarly ‘tainted’, and have police officers perjured or hidden any other evidence?

B. Oversight of GCSB

The Prime Minister has stated that he was overseas at the time  GCSB requested a Ministerial Certificate from Bill English to block  information about the Bureau’s involvement in the Dotcom case (to cover up their actions from Court and media scrutiny).

The certificate was signed by Deputy PM Bill English,  acting Prime Minister, whilst John Key was overseas. The certificate was requested by the GCSB after Mr Dotcom’s lawyer requested from Crown Law all information relating to the case that was intercepted by the GCSB and provided to police.

However, the GCSB monitoring of  Dotcom took place from 16 December 2011 to 20 Jan 2012.

See: Memorandum for Directions Hearing (para 12)

Key was definitely in the country – in part –  whilst the GCSB was spying on Dotcom. (See: Prime Minister John Key’s Address in Reply Debate – 21st December, 2011)

At some point between 21 December and 27 January, Key holidayed in Hawaii. (See:  John Key Video Journal No.50)

On 27 January 2012, Key attended the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting and  joint meeting of senior Cabinet Ministers. (See: PM to visit Australia with Ministers)

Second question: Was surveillance of Dotcom discussed at any meeting around that time period by the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC)? If not, why not? Considering that ODESC is responsible for “oversight and policy guidance of the Bureau, if the Dotcom cases and cross-organisational liaison did not merit discussion – what then,  is ODESC overseeing?

C. Reason for GCSB involvement

The last question, and perhaps one that has only briefly been touched upon: why did the  Office of Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) feel the need to request assistance from the GCSB in the first place?

According to documents, the rationale given was that the GCSB monitored Kim Dotcom’s communications  for the purposes of establishing his location for the impending raid,

“The information sought to be collected did not relate to the details or merits of his dispute in the US. It was about where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time.”

See: Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom

It seems incredible that NZ Police are unable to keep track of suspects they are surveilling without requesting assistance from a spy organisation such as the GCSB (or SIS?). It beggars belief that Police required surveillance assistance when,

  • Dotcom and his entourage lived in one of the biggest mansions in Auckland
  • Dotcom drove bright, flashy, very expensive cars
  • Dotcom was quite a big bloke himself and would’ve stuck out like an Afro-American at a White Supremacists tea-party
  • Dotcom made no effort to evade authorities
  • The raid was executed at 6.47am in the morning – more than likely that the occupants of the Coatsville mansion were still indoors – if not still in bed.

There appears to be no rational reason for a spy agency to have been involved – at least not for the stated purpose  of “where he was or might be expected to be in New Zealand at a particular time“.

It was pretty bloody obvious where Kim Dotcom; his wife; his employees; and probably the family pets were, on that early morning on 20 January 2012,

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If the NZ Police are unable to locate and keep track of  a businessman who makes no effort to conceal himself; where no efforts are being made to evade anyone (indeed, he probably wasn’t even aware of being under surveillance);  then that raises serious concerns at the ability of the New Zealand police force.

Third question:  Why was the GCSB involved?

None of these questions are answered – nor even raised – in Judge Neazor’s report on this matter. In fact, reading his four page report offers very little insights as to how and why this incident came about. Neazor confirms that,

Enquiry was made during the activity in an attempt to ensure that the Bureau acted within its legal mandate as to what it can collect. The illegality arose because of changes in the Immigration Act wording and some confusion about which category Dotcom was in thereafter.”

See: Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom

So there we have it: “confusion“.

Neazor’s “report” is so poor in facts and explanations that a further wider ranging investigation is warranted. In fact, his “report” cries out for further inquiries to be made.

What the public have been given is superficial, meaningless, pap.

Key’s apology is pointless if questions remain unanswered and suspicions abound that  Neazor’s report is essentially  a “white wash”. As Key himself said,

I’ve asked the Bureau [GCSB]  about why they failed  at that point to identify  the problem. I’m not entirely sure I’ve had a completely satisfactory answer…”

See: PM apologises to Kim Dotcom

Indeed, Prime Minister.

The public is also ” not entirely sure we’ve had a completely satisfactory answer “.

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Other Blogs

The Standard: What does Key have to gain by lying?

Tumeke: Was our new Governor-General involved in authorizing illegal spying of Kim Dotcom?

Tumeke: 4 Kim Dotcom questions: How could the GCSB miss a half million dollar fireworks display?

Tumeke: Citizen A: Kim Dotcom/GCSB special with Chris Trotter & Phoebe Fletcher

Tumeke: No one believes you John Key – The GCSB knew spying on Dotcom was illegal

Gordon Campbell: On the failures of the Neazor report

Past Prime-Ministerial-I-Don’t-Knows

NZ Herald: Key admits mistake over shares (23 Sept 2008)

Fairfax Media: PM signed papers relating to BMWs (22 February 2011)

NZ Herald: Key changes tack over meeting with broadcaster (9 April 2011)

TV3: PM’s credit downgrade claim under fire (10 October 2011)

TV3: Who knew what about Kim Dotcom (2 May 2012)

Fairfax Media: Master of Keyvasive action (18 September 2012)

TV3: Who kept GCSB’s Dotcom spying secret from Key? (25 Sept 2012)

Additional

Time: WATCH: The Hollywood-Style Police Raid on Kim Dotcom’s Mansion (9 August 2012)

NZ Herald: Key on illegal spying on Dotcom (24 Sept 2012)

TV3: Who kept GCSB’s Dotcom spying secret from Key? (25 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Kim Dotcom hints at suing Govt (25 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media:  Dotcom case makes world headlines (25 Sept 2012)

Radio NZ: Minister stonewalls over police Dotcom evidence (26 Sept 2012)

Parliamentary Hansards: Questions for Oral Answer (26 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: Key on the back foot as Opposition leaders twist knife (27 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: PM apologises to Dotcom over ‘basic errors‘ (27 Sept 2012)

Scoop.co.nz:  Neazor Report on GCSB and Kim Dotcom (27 Sept 2012)

NZ Herald: Greens ask police to investigate GCSB (28 Sept 2012)

TV3: No need for GCSB inquiry – Key (28 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media: Police had queried if spying was illegal (29 Sept 2012)

Fairfax Media: Dotcom saga rebounds on Key Government (29 Sept 2012)

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A FTA deal with Russia?! That’s a big “NYET” Comrade Key!

11 September 2012 19 comments

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Politicians sometimes just don’t learn…

Prologue: 2008AD

On 7 April 2008, the then Labour Government signed a  Free Trade Agreement with China. Part of that FTA included the following clauses,

Article 143 Fair and Equitable Treatment

1. Investments of investors of each Party shall at all times be accorded fair and equitable treatment and shall enjoy the full protection and security in the territory of the other Party in accordance with commonly accepted rules of international law.

2. Fair and equitable treatment includes the obligation to ensure that, having regard to general principles of law, investors are not denied justice or treated unfairly or inequitably in any legal or administrative proceeding affecting the investments of the investor.

3. Full protection and security requires each Party to take such measures as may be reasonably necessary in the exercise of its authority to ensure the protection and security of the investment.

4. Neither Party shall take any unreasonable or discriminatory measures against the management, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal of the investments by the investors of the other Party.

5. A violation of any other article of this Chapter does not establish that there has been a violation of this Article.

Article 144 Compensation for Losses

Investors of a Party whose investments in the territory of the other Party suffer losses owing to war or other armed conflict, a state of national emergency, insurrection, riot or other similar events in the territory of the latter Party shall be accorded by the latter Party treatment, as regards restitution, indemnification, compensation or other settlements no less favourable than that accorded to the investors of its own or any third country, whichever is more favourable to the investors concerned.

See:  Chapter 11 – Investment

Article 138 National Treatment

Each Party shall accord to investments and activities associated with such investments, with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal, by the investors of the other Party treatment no less favourable than that accorded, in like circumstances, to the investments and associated activities by its own investors.”

See: – Ibid

These are the sections which Auckland University law professor,  Jane Kelsey, stated could result in a lawsuit for breaching our Free Trade Agreement with China, in the Crafar Farms affair. Quite simply, Chinese investors cannot be treated differently to local (or any other investors from other nations) in commercial and legal matters.

As Jane Kelsey stated,

If the New Zealand Government had declined the Shanghai Pengxin purchase of the Crafar farms it could have faced an international lawsuit for breaching its free-trade agreement with China. The Government cannot treat applications from Chinese investors differently from similar applications from other countries’ investors under what is known as the ‘most-favoured-nation’ or MFN rule.”

See: Our hands were tied over the Crafar farms sale

Key was more circumspect in admitting this reality of the FTA, when on 27 January 2012, he said on TV3’s ‘Campbell Live’ (@  ),

” … in our view, turning it down on the basis that they were Chinese is not only in my view unacceptable and a bit repugnant , actually it wouldn’t be legally sound either.”

See:  Selling Crafar farms the right decision – Key

Which is about as close as Key has come to publicly admitting that we are bound by our FTA with China to treat their investors on the same footing as New Zealand investors. Whilst this may be met with approval by ACT ideologues, it sound nothing for our country’s economy, nor future investment by our own children who may be priced out of the market by wealthier offshore investors.

Fast forward: 2012AD

Key is now chasing a similar  FTA deal with Russia.  In which case expect more purchases of our productive sector by wealthy Russian investors.

There is everything wrong with this prospect.

Russia is presently ruled by an oligarchy, with Vladimir Putin it’s undisputed head.

This is a corrupt government that stole last December’s  election by voting fraud on a massive scale. Putin’s opponants are either arrested and imprisoned (as in the old Soviet era), or murdered by “unknown assasins”.

See: The farce of Russian elections

See: Russia’s presidential election: rigging is a delicate art

Public dissent is actively discouraged by state repression, and often met with the use of violent force.

See: Putin’s government moves to quash public dissent

The Russian mafia is amongst the most feared globally,  and has strong connections with Putin’s government,

Russia is a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a “virtual mafia state”, according to leaked secret diplomatic cables that provide a damning American assessment of its erstwhile rival superpower.

Arms trafficking, money laundering, personal enrichment, protection for gangsters, extortion and kickbacks, suitcases full of money and secret offshore bank accounts in Cyprus: the cables paint a bleak picture of a political system in which bribery alone totals an estimated $300bn a year, and in which it is often hard to distinguish between the activities of the government and organised crime. “

See: WikiLeaks cables condemn Russia as ‘mafia state’

And this is the “virtual mafia state” that John Key wants closer economic ties with?!

This aspect should be especially worrying to New Zealand, a small nation especially vulnerable to penetration by sophisticated, organised crime.

More worrying is that our esteemed Security Intelligence Service and Police force – which is adept at spying on Maori activists in the Ureweras or peace activists-turned Green MPs – have  either not informed the Prime Minister of Russia’s corrupt criminal government, with mafia links – or has been ignored by National.

This is more than worrying – this is downright dangerous. Key is playing with fire when he associates with such dangerous people.

Why would National consider cosying up to the Russian government/mafia? Especially when, as Judith Collins stated in October 2009,

Gangs have infiltrated businesses; turning legitimate enterprises into money laundering outlets.  Their money has bought them a veneer of legitimacy that is far more dangerous to our society than anything we have seen before.”

See: Organised crime threatens NZ way of life

Collins was referring to local organised gangs. But the same could hold equally true – if not more so – for international crime gangs that are far more organised; well resourced; vicious; and with links to state power.

The Russian mafia is not one to be trifled with. If Collins is concerned about our local crims, she should be positively panicking over the possibility that a FTA with Russia could draw us into closer contact with organised crime syndicates and their political allies in Moscow.

Dealing with Russia is akin to dealing with Columbia or Mexico, should their organised crime gangs ever gain a foothold in those country’s respective governments (if not already).

The prospect of Russian investors with links to organised crime (or, indeed, a front for crime groups) is one that cannot be easily dismissed.

We need to be damned careful who we, as a nation, build closer relations with.  If Key want to “Dance with the Devil”, he is pulling the rest of us in with him.

This blogger reminds the reader of Eastern European notions of the vampyr legends (no, not the glamourised Hollywood version of young, handsome vampires – the Undead variety of gruesome appearance and dodgy personal hygiene). In popular culture, the vampyr could not cross a threshold to enter you home.

You were safe inside – unless someone in your home invited the vampyr to enter.

Once that invitation was extended, the blood-sucking monster could come and go as he (or she) pleased. There was no stopping the creature, except with the usual methods; stake, sunlight, garlic, ACT Party manifesto, etc.

Damned perceptive, our Eastern European cuzzies.

Just be careful, Mr Key, who you invite into our country…

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Additional

MFAT: New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement

New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement (text)

Government could have faced lawsuit

Billionaire’s playground: Russian rich-lister’s home to rival Chrisco mansion

Putin, Key hopeful for Free Trade Agreement

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