Key's implausible deniability | The Jackal

15 Jul 2014

Key's implausible deniability

Isn’t it nice that John Key is on holiday at the moment with his family in Hawaii? It does seem a bit strange though to have Key absent when the National party should be busily getting ready for their election campaign.

The timing couldn't have been better for the Prime Minister, with the release of further damaging information concerning the Kim Dotcom case clearly not being coincidental to him taking a vacation.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Prime Minister John Key must explain the "political pressure" government officials were under to process Kim Dotcom's residency application, Labour says.

Documents declassified and released through the Official Information Act show the Security Intelligence Service tried to block Kim Dotcom's residency application but dropped their objection 90 minutes after being told there was "political pressure" to let the tycoon into New Zealand.

You're probably aware that a Minister must sign off on all Official Information Act requests before the information is released. I should also mention the No Surprises Legislation to help ensure that Ministers are kept informed about any issues that may be discussed in the public arena.

The government would have realised they had to release the information requested at around the same time it was decided the PM should take off overseas. In my opinion, John Key leaving the country to avoid questioning is a cowardly act not befitting a Prime Minister of New Zealand.

So why exactly did he ensure he wasn't available to answer questions?

Documents declassified and released through the Official Information Act show the Security Intelligence Service describing Dotcom as a "bad but wealthy man" who was under criminal investigation by the FBI.

It also has agents passing on information about the FBI investigation for then Minister of Immigration Jonathan Coleman, described as an "interested party" wanting to get "high rollers" into New Zealand.

How interested were the FBI in keeping Dotcom in New Zealand so that the extradition laws would apply? If that's the case, it's a clear indication that the National government has manipulated the normal legal process of a residency application at the behest of a foreign country, in this case the United States of America. That's clearly a corruption of due process and subsequently something that should be treated very seriously indeed.

But that's not the worst part of today's news for John Key and his inept neoliberal government. The release of information has also shed some light on when exactly John Key knew about Kim Dotcom.

Previously the Prime Minister has used plausible deniability to say that he wasn't aware or involved in any of the decision-making surrounding the Dotcom case. However his continued claims that he knew nothing are becoming even more implausible with every new piece of evidence uncovered.

The "political pressure" claim was made in October 2010 after the SIS blocked Dotcom's residency application when it learned of the FBI's criminal investigation into his Megaupload empire.

On October 22 that year, one SIS agent wrote to another saying: "INZ [Immigration NZ] has phoned me to advise that the INZ CEO [Nigel Bickle] is questioning why this case is on hold. Apparently there is some 'political pressure' to process this case."

This isn't the first time National MP’s have manipulated the system either. Earlier this year Maurice Williamson had to resign because he interfered in a Police investigation concerning a domestic violence complaint against Donghua Liu, a Chinese businessman who had given the National Party $22,000. But this time the government interference appears to be for very different reasons.

The agent noted the need for the "CEO" to be briefed on the Dotcom case. The SIS director at the time was Dr Warren Tucker, who reports directly to Prime Minister John Key.

One hour and 27 minutes later, another SIS agent said the agency's block would be lifted, writing: "Since Dotcom is not of security concern, there is no reason for this application to be on hold with us. Please can you inform your INZ contacts of this, also noting Dotcom is the subject of a criminal investigation and that they need to discuss the case with NZ Police before they proceed with granting him PR [permanent residency]."

On October 27, 2010, the SIS again urged Immigration NZ to discuss Dotcom with the police, saying "just from looking at his records INZ do have enough on his criminal history to not give him [residency]".

The next day, an SIS agent was instructed to brief INZ's intelligence chief, Theo Kuper, ahead of a meeting scheduled with Dr Coleman to brief him on "the background regarding FBI/NZ Police".

In an email later that day, the SIS agent asked: "How did the meeting go with the minister?"

Mr Kuper responded: "My responsibility is to merely provide information and advice which hopefully will lead to the right decision being made. What I do know is that the Minister of Immigration is an interested party as the Investor Plus Residence category (for high rollers with more [than] $10 million to spend in NZ) is a government priority because of the economic benefits to NZ."

The Prime Minister is the head of the SIS and it would be a serious breach of protocol for him not to be briefed about a situation the FBI was interested in as it unfolded. It's therefore entirely incomprehensible that he wasn't aware of the Security Intelligence Service’s involvement in this case before the raid occurred.

The public is being expected to believe that from October 2010 when the National government put "political pressure" on the SIS and INZ to unblock Dotcom's residency application and January 2012 when the illegal raid on Kim Dotcoms' home was conducted, not one of the three Ministers who knew about the case bothered to inform the Prime Minister? Yeah right!

Couple that whopping inconsistency with the SIS supposedly failing to mention the Kim Dotcom case to John Key in over a years worth of weekly briefings and it's getting harder and harder to accept that the Prime Minister has told the truth. In fact the lies of this right wing government are getting more unbelievable by the day.