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Posts Tagged ‘Teapot Tape’

Teapots and Tearooms – a tale of two tapes

22 October 2012 9 comments

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Hark back to 11 November 2011; two men met at a cafe for a chat over a cuppa tea.

Nothing unusual about that,  you might think?

Except that the men were John Banks and John Key;  leaders of two political parties;  campaigning for an upcoming election; and about 40 journalists were present to  record the event and report it for their respective media outlets.

The publicity stunt went awry when a recording device was discovered on their table, and Dear Leader was not impressed,

John Key remains intractable today about the teapot-tape fiasco, maintaining and repeating his line that he is a victim of a deliberate attempt by the Herald on Sunday to covertly record his conversation with John Banks. .

Continuing on from his defiance yesterday, the Prime Minister reiterated on Firstline his stance against “News of the World tactics” and said he went to the police because it was “a matter of principle”. 

Firstline host Rachel Smalley, who has seen part of a transcript of the conversation, told Mr Key that hacking into the phone of a family whose child has been murdered, like the News of the World did, is very different to mistakenly leaving a microphone on a table.

“No it’s not,” Mr Key replied, “it’s an illegal attempt to get information and that’s the principle”.

“I have a totally clear conscience about what I’ve done, I think it’s the Herald on Sunday and the cameraman that may not have a clear conscience and in the end, they will have to answer to the police,” he said.

“There are many times where I am in a public place but that doesn’t mean I can be taped…I don’t care about the tape, I haven’t heard the tape but my recollection of the conversation was that it was pretty bland”. ” – Source

John Key was fairly adamant; he was outraged that he had been recorded without his knowledge and point-blank refused to permit the contents of the tape to be made public.  On 30 November he made his Royal Displeasure further known when the coercive arm of State authority – the NZ Police – raided the offices of Radio New Zealand, searching for copies of the “teapot tape”.

Further raids on other media followed.

Contrast Key’s wrath with his attitude toward the alleged video-taping of  his meeting with the GCSB on 29 January, this year.  In response to allegations made by David Shearer, Key responded on 16 October,

There was no tape, to say the GCSB erased it is a very serious allegation and he should put up or shut up, he should apologise.” – Source

Indeed, Key challenged Shearer to present the tape on more than one occassion.

Does such a tape or any other form of recording exist?

We don’t know. The GCSB says it has searched and “found nothing”.

But most pointed is that a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said on 12 October,

We are checking that there is no recording that GCSB made. ” – Source

Let’s re-cap;

On 29 January, Key visits the GCSB for a briefing. He makes some sort of speech in the GCSB cafetaria.

On 11 October, Key is interviewed by TV3 where he stated point-blank that he was unaware of any recording made of his visit to GCSB HQ on 29 January. (See: Secret GCSB recording catches Key out – Labour)

On the same day, GCSB boss, Ian Fletcher, states categorically,

The department has made exhaustive enquiries of its records and its IT systems, and can find no audio-visual recording of the Prime Minister’s visit to GCSB on 29 February 2012.” – Source

On 12 October, Key’s office announces that they are “checking that there is no recording that GCSB made“.

On 16 October, Key invites  the Labour leader to present any recording,  “and he should put up or shut up“.

This seems a remarkable turnaround for our Prime Minister?!

He obviously wasn’t aware that he was being recorded – and yet, after checking with the GCSB – is agreeable to Shearer releasing any recording that might be in his possession?!

This seems in stark contrast to Key’s anger at being recorded last year, in Epson – also unknowingly –  when he not only refused to release the tape – but called in the police to enforce his diktat.

Key was obviously having none of it.

So why the sudden change of heart at being unknowingly recorded in the GCSB’s cafetaria?

What happened between 12 October and 16 October that allowed Key to comfortably challenge Shearer to “ put up or shut up“?

Fairly bloody obvious, I would think.

The GCSB found the recording before copies could be made (otherwise it would have leaked by now); deleted it; and then advised the Prime Minister “that no recording existed”.

There is simply no other way to explain Key’s inexplicably contradictory responses on being unknowingly recorded on two separate occassions, only 110 days apart.

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Sources

NZ Herald: Bugged in the Act

NZ Herald: PM blocks release of chat tape

TV3:  Key reiterates that he is ‘teapot-tape’ victim

Dominion Post: Radio NZ hands over ‘tea tape’ interview

TV3: Key to take staffer to GCSB meetings

Scoop: GCSB in the House on Wednesday

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Born to rule…

29 March 2012 4 comments

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Let’s play a guessing game.

‘ Who Dunnit? ‘

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1. The Story So far…

Bronwyn Pullar was having trouble with ACC – due in no small part to National’s current cutbacks and demands for greater “efficiencies” from state owned enterprises.

Ms Pullar is a National Party apparatchik and acquaintance of  Nick Smith, a National Party MP, and ex-Minister for ACC. She is also close to other National Party high-ups; Michelle Boag , John Key, et al.

Ms Pullar attends a meeting with ACC officials, to push her case. She also has in her possession, files mistakenly emailed to her by ACC. Attending the meeting as a ‘support person’ is one-time National Party President, Michelle Boag.

Who-said-what at that meeting is contentious – each party accusing the other.

Michelle Boag then sends an email to Judith ‘Crusher’ Collins, regarding the issue.

For reasons of her own, Ms Collins forwards the email to ACC board chair John Judge and chief executive Ralph Stewart.

Soon after, the email is leaked to the media,

Things came to a crescendo on Sunday March 18, 2012.  That morning an article by the Herald’s David Fisher confirmed not only that Bronwyn Pullar was the mystery recipient of the information but that at the support meeting where the negotiation occurred she was supported by former National President Michelle Boag.  The source of the information appears to be an email that Boag had sent to Collins.

 
The blogosphere kicked in.  Cameron Slater  had a detailed post up by 8 am, complete with historical emails and links.  He then posted a further two posts on the subject up that day.  I understand that Boag bet Slater’s father for the National Party presidency in 2002.  It is apparent that Slater does not like Boag.  He certainly appeared to be enjoying the difficult predicament that Boag had found herself in.” – Waitakere News

Who leaked the email?

The candidates are;

  •  Michelle Boag – the sender of the email and Bronwyn Pullar’s friend and supporter.
  •  ACC Minister Judith Collins – the recipient of the email who then forwarded it to:
  • ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart and his secretary, and:
  • ACC chairperson John Judge.

There is also an indication that Ms Pullar’s ACC case manager also viewed the email, as well as one of Ms Collins’ staff.

It’s fairly clear that whoever leaked the email did not forward it directly to the Herald. That would have left an  electronic IP-trail*. Instead, it was most likely forwarded to Cameron Slater, who would have ‘stripped’ all IP details with a simply C&P; and then forwarded it to the NZ Herald.

Slater is fairly notorious for being a useful conduit to leak information from National, to the media. Using him as an intermediary removes embarressing electronic IP ‘footprints’.

So – who would have used Slater in this manner?

In playing “Who Dunnit”, it’s worthwhile considering the three componants of any  nefarious activity,

  1. Motive
  2. Means
  3. Opportunity

Obviously, all parties to this affair have #2 and #3; Means and Opportunity.

It is #1 – Motive – that counts the most.

Who stood to gain the most by releasing the email?

Who wanted to protect his/her position the most?

Who was potentially most embarressed by the email?

Who has a relationship with Slater and could count on his discretion?

The following is honest opinion…

The last item is perhaps the most critical; whoever forwarded this email to Slater would have needed to be reassured that he would not betray the sender and land him/her in serious hot water.

Slater is National’s “asset”, doing their  ‘dirty work’ .  When the National hierarchy  does not want to dirty their own hands with mud – but still want to make public damaging information to embarress a political opponant – Slater is their go-to man.

Slater’s role in such nefarious activities is even more useful to National after Paula Bennett’s clumsy mis-handling of private information belonging to two solo-mothers, which she disclosed to the media. There is still a complaint pending against Bennett for abusing her position as Minister for Social Welfare.

Somewhere, sometime, a top National Party apparatchik would have instructed each and every minister and MP not to repeat Bennett’s mistake. S/he would have given firm instructions that releasing damaging information to discredit an opponant had to be done surreptitiously, using a Third Party.

That Third Party would be Slater.

That would give National “plausible deniability” when the sh*t hit the fan and fingers were pointed.

In my opinion, Slater’s role in this increasingly bizarre and sordid affair points to who leaked the email.

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2. Prior ‘form’…

As explained in my previous blogpiece,  Gerry Brownlee – “In the public interest”, this government is probably one of the leakiest in recent history. Leaking to the media and feral bloggers has become a ‘speed dial ‘‘  form of communication with the public.

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3.  Consequential Matters Arising…

Using Third Parties such as Slater, to spread muck has it’s inherent dangers.

Eventually, the entanglements and the copious volumes of information at the hands of  someone like Slater creates it’s own risks for his  “handler(s)”. Slater will have  considerable dirt on those who have leaked information to him. He  will have to be “kept sweet”,  to deny him cause to go rogue and threaten to disclose information  embarressing to those who have fed him material in the past.

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4. A Question…

Isn’t it interesting that John Key acted at near super-sonic speed to lay a police complaint regarding the Teapot Tape. He was only too glad to  allege to Police that his privacy had been breached by Bradley Ambrose.

Shouldn’t the  release of Ms Boag’s email to the NZ Herald on 18 March, disclosing Bronwyn Pullar’s name and details, also count as a serious breach of privacy?

Why haven’t the Police been called in?

The answer, I suspect, is fairly obvious.

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(* The means by which the email was leaked is mostly irrelevant. I offer one method – there are at least two other means by which a transfer of information could easily occur.

-FM)

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Previous Blogposts

Nick Smith

ACC Email Leak – Solved!

Nick Smith – #Rua

Gerry Brownlee – “In the public interest”

Other Blogposts

Waitakerenews: Was Nick Smith shot by friendly fire?

The Political Scientist: The banality of corruption

IDLE THOUGHTS OF AN IDLE FELLOW: Ms Boag points finger: Will Ms Collins resign?

Additional

National’s Boag was in ACC meeting (first media repeat disclosing Ms Pullar’s identity to the public)

ACC denies leaking information

Speculation rife over ACC leak

Boag angrily denies leaking ACC email

Computers focus of ACC privacy inquiry

Political round-up: Leaks and denials

Collins eyes ACC defamation action

ACC worker re-viewed leaked Smith letter (note; article’s Timeline  ‘March 20’  date should read March 18)

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Common Sense Prevails

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Common sense – something in current short supply with National and their ‘grin & wave’  Dear Leader – finally prevails.

After wasting $16 million on the Urewera terror raids and the trial of the Urewera 18 17 4, throwing more taxpayers’ money on pointless political game-playing was something that would not sit well with a steadily discontented public.

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