PLAY­ING I SPY

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS -

The Gov­ern­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Se­cu­rity Bureau (GCSB) and the Se­cu­rity In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice (SIS) are be­ing handed more pow­ers by the Gov­ern­ment, and given le­gal back­ing for spy­ing on New Zealan­ders, in spite of yet an­other ex­am­ple of their wrong­do­ings be­ing ex­posed.

It has been re­vealed that in 2012 the two agen­cies ha­rassed and per­se­cuted a New Zealan­der whose only ac­tiv­ity had been ex­press­ing neg­a­tive opin­ions about the Fiji gov­ern­ment.

This new episode is just an­other ex­am­ple of a long line of re­pres­sive ac­tions against New Zealand cit­i­zens who pose ab­so­lutely no threat to this coun­try what­so­ever. The cases of David Small, Aziz Choudry, Ahmed Zaoui and Kim Dot­com are good ex­am­ples of cit­i­zens or res­i­dents who suf­fered from mis­taken and/or il­le­gal sur­veil­lance by the spies.

The to­tal num­ber of ‘‘ter­ror­ists’’ un­cov­ered and brought to jus­tice num­bers ex­actly, wait for it, zero.

‘‘In the un­likely event that war­rants are prop­erly con­sti­tuted the ev­i­dence sug­gests they are likely to be used to make in­no­cent peo­ple suf­fer.’’

New Gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion is based on the Cullen-Reddy Re­port, which rec­om­mended ex­tend­ing the pow­ers of the spies and in­sti­tut­ing a more rig­or­ous war­rant sys­tem.

How­ever, past ex­pe­ri­ence shows ‘‘over­sight’’ al­ways fails. In 2014 the GCSB could not prop­erly give ac­count of the num­ber of war­rants it was op­er­at­ing, and Sir Michael Cullen him­self, when he was a se­nior min­is­ter in the 1999-2008 Labour gov­ern­ment, lied to the coun­try about spy­ing on New Zealan­ders when he presided over a war­rant sys­tem that failed.

In the un­likely event that war­rants are prop­erly con­sti­tuted the ev­i­dence sug­gests they are likely to be used to make in­no­cent peo­ple suf­fer.

The GCSB and the SIS have demon­strated in­com­pe­tence and vic­tim­i­sa­tion over many years. It is not the time to give them greater pow­ers but is the time to close them down com­pletely.

Close down the GCSB and its Wai­hopai spy base and pull out of the Five Eyes sys­tem. Close down the SIS and trans­fer its func­tions to the Po­lice who, the­o­ret­i­cally at least, have to jus­tify their ac­tions in a court of law.

Dion Martin, Palmer­ston North

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