Were we watching the same program? | The Jackal

15 Aug 2013

Were we watching the same program?

Last night, the Prime Minister finally got around to fronting on the TV to talk about his controversial GCSB amendment bill (PDF). After some goading, Key's appearance on Campbell Live has received mixed reviews, with some on the left proclaiming it a masterful performance.

I personally didn't see it like that. To me Key came across as rather arrogant. He was clearly more concerned with counting down the clock than answering any questions constructively.

Through no fault of his own, this meant John Campbell was largely closed out of the discussion. Unfortunately Key showed the experienced interviewer absolutely no respect at all. Multiple interjections dominated the interview, which didn't make for good viewing at all. But perhaps the most disrespect was shown to the viewing audience, who Key continued to try and mislead.

Unfortunately many within our mainstream media have also accepted Keys propaganda.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

After last night's commanding performance on Campbell Live, John Key will be left wondering why he did not go on the show a lot earlier to defend the changes to his GCSB bill.

Why would he be wondering about that? Key tried to explain during the interview exactly why he had been avoiding the media on this issue. Has that fact conveniently slipped Audrey Young's mind? Key said it was because nobody cared about the spying legislation.

Key even made the excuse that he didn't attend the debates on this issue because Helen Clark didn't either. How can people accept such idiotic reasoning without question?

For the first time on national television, he said that in order for the GCSB to get hold of New Zealanders' metadata, it will need a warrant signed by the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Security Warrants.

This is untrue. There is a clause within the GCSB amendment bill (clause 3) that states the GCSB Act 2003 (PDF) allows for warrantless interception of people's communications. It is only when a new device needs to be PHYSICALLY attached to a network to intercept a communication that a warrant is required.

This means that any existing device or wireless connection used doesn't need a warrant. Key either fails understand what his bill actually means or he is trying to mislead the public again with a blatant lie. But Young isn't letting that fact get in the way of her love for Key:

He has said it before - in the past few weeks. But he has not said it clearly enough or often enough, given that there is a perception that the GCSB is going to collect everyone's emails and phones records at whim.

Repeating a lie doesn't make it true. Speaking of which, lets look at the first lie Key used in that interview to try and justify him failing to publicly front on the issue:

We got 124 submissions on the GCSB bill and 30,000 on the snapper limit.

It seems that Key is confusing the meaning of submission again. Clearly there haven't been 30,000 submissions on the snapper limit. There may well be 30,000 signatures on the snapper petition by now, but these are not submissions. There may well be 30,000 signatures to the Legasea SOS submission, but these are not individual submissions.

By getting such a basic principle wrong, Key is showing that he’s too incompetent to lead New Zealand. That incompetency was also displayed when he dismissed the Human Rights Commission's report by saying their submission was late and then threatened to cut their funding. The HRC can provide a report to the Prime Minister at anytime.

So, that’s a complete fail on Key's first sentence. What else does the deluded Young report:

Key might have scored 10 except for the fact he failed to pull up John Campbell on an error - the issue of section 14, which in the present law says the GCSB cannot spy on New Zealanders or permanent residents.

 I'd give Key a point for showing up.

Why is it not in the current bill, Campbell demanded. It would have been a legitimate question if it were not in the bill - but it is, and has been from day one.

Which is incorrect! Clause 12 of the GCSB amendment bill will replace section 14 of the GCSB Act. Here's the relevant part:

The new section 14 is expressly linked to the Bureau’s intelligence-gathering function in new section 8B and provides that any incidentally obtained intelligence is not obtained in breach of new section 8B, but must not be retained or disclosed except in accordance with section 23 and new section 25.

Section 23 goes on to say that any incidentally obtained intelligence can be used by the Bureau for any of the purposes specified in subsection (2), which states:

New subsection (2) provides limits on the extent of the co-operation provided, but clarifies that the co-operation may be provided even though the advice and assistance provided might involve the exercise of powers by, or the sharing of the capabilities of, the Bureau that the Bureau is not, or could not be, authorised to exercise or share in the performance of its other functions.

Get that? The GCSB can share with other agencies information that is "incidentally" obtained even though it is not authorized to do so under it's own functions. Despite that fact, Young has the temerity to write:

But it is true that the GCSB will be able to conduct surveillance on Kiwis in the area of cyber security, but again, that will require a warrant signed by the Prime Minister and Commissioner of Security Warrants.

As previously stated, a warrant is only required when NEW equipment is needed to undertake the surveillance. The mass warrantless surveillance will continue unabated under the proposed law changes.

There are also other changes that undermine the publics right to privacy. Clause 24 for instance that replaces section 25, which outlines when communications may be retained and communicated to other agencies, is another questionable change. It states that any communication that contains a threat to human life or a threat to the national security of New Zealand or in any other country can be communicated to any agency the GCSB chooses to share that information with. Clearly the definition of a threat to national security will be broad to include any activism, even when that activism is peaceful.

You can see why Young is a bit confused about all this though. Despite John Key proclaiming that the amendments will clarify the law, they in fact make it more complicated. The proposed changes simply mean that the GCSB can gather all communications and those communications can be used by other agencies, even when those agencies are foreign.

Key's own error on the bill was in suggesting that, having acquired a warrant to intercept communications under its cyber-security function, the GCSB would not be allowed to look at the content. There's no such provision in the bill. If Key had front-footed the bill from the start, fewer people would have had concerns.

Really…that’s the only thing Key got wrong? What about when he said people don’t raise the GCSB issue with him? This is clearly wrong as the protests throughout New Zealand show. What about Key saying the GCSB’s foreign intelligence gathering was nothing to do with New Zealanders? The amendments specifically state that intelligence gathered on New Zealand citizens can be passed on to foreign intelligence agencies.

What about Key saying everything the GCSB does is legal when the Kim Dotcom case and the 88 other cases of illegal spying show otherwise. What about Key claiming the GCSB was like an antivirus FFS? Do these things simply not register with the mainstream media?

John Key is a dishonest Prime Minister and his bill that will expand spying powers should not be allowed to pass into law. It's as simple as that.