Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Security Services & government Timeline

"Where were our intelligence agents when Ernie Abbott was murdered and the Rainbow Warrior blown up?" a speaker asked during the 2015 Security Intel Review by Michael Cullen and Patsy Reddy

A common concern also voiced at the time was that 'the GCSB was an outpost of the NSA and that its activities were linking us to America's wars'. The timeline below shows the validity of the concern. From RadioNZ 'Timeline: Security services, government and Muslim community before the Christchurch mosque attacks', the timeline highlights the anti-Arabic anti-Muslim focus of the security intelligence in this country.

Hand in hand with the timeline though, should be a timeline of the constant fear mongering anti-Muslim rhetoric that the government and its agencies led and participated in. Remember Rebecca Kiterridge and the government on the 'Jihadi Brides' and the November 2013 killing of a NZer in Yemen as a result of a US drone strike? Remember that we supply data used in drone strikes?

NZ is so intertwined with the Five Eyes that we blindly accept the US’s lead in who should be the 'enemy'. We need to be fearful of the Five-Eyes.

From RadioNZ: Before the Christchurch mosque attacks

  • 2002 - New Zealand enacts Terrorism Suppression Act. As of 2019, no one has ever been charged under Act
  • 2009-2019 - Not one specific mention in this period of the threat from white supremacists or right-wing nationalism in SIS or GCSB public documents
  • 2010-2017 - Figures from this period show 92 far-right attacks compared with 38 by jihadists* in US
  • July 2011 - 77 people killed in Norway by white supremacist shooter
  • 2012 on - Series of reviews of NZ security agencies after scandals including the Kim Dotcom spying
  • 2013 - National-led government abandons intrusive internet surveillance
  • 2013 on - Flood of refugees into Europe begins
  • 2014 - Suite of changes to national security set up including three new entities - a Strategic Risk and Resilience Panel, Security and Intelligence Board and Hazard Risk Board
  • 2015-2018 - Series of budget boosts for SIS and GCSB, including (in 2016) of $178m over 4 years
  • 2015 - Corrections Department sets up Countering Violent Extremism working group as part of government's counter-terrorism strategy
  • June 2015 - Nine killed by white supremacist at African-American church in South Carolina, United States **
  • December 2015 - New Zealand Muslims hold first community meetings to discuss counter-terrorism
  • June 2016 - Two men sentenced in Auckland over Islamic State material
  • October 2016 - Islamic Women's Council raises fears of far-right with SIS
  • 2017-18 - Security agencies set up new National Risk Unit and new National Security Workforce team, plus get a new specialist coordinator for counter-terrorism
  • 2017 - Research finds NZ Muslims believe government surveillance is excessive
  • 2017 to early 2018 - Muslim community in numerous meetings with government seeking but failing to get national wellbeing strategy
  • January 2017 - Six killed at mosque in Quebec, Canada
  • September 2017 - New Zealand's new Intelligence and Security Act 2017 comes into force
  • June 2018 - SIS begins to increase its efforts to assess far-right threat
  • November 2018 - Eleven killed by far right shooter in Pittsburgh, US
  • March 2019 - SIS and GCSB confirm they had no intelligence about the Christchurch terror accused
* Global Terrorism Database by the Washington Post
** This list of far-right attacks is far from exhaustive

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Peter Hughes Inquiry on Public Service Spying

‘This is not the way we do things in NZ’ State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said as he described connections between government agencies and private agencies at the public release of the ‘Inquiry into the Use of External Security Consultants by Government Agencies’. Hughes sounded truly aggrieved. But the problem is that this is the NZ that many people know.

NZ has a long history of both state and private surveillance. For years a wide variety of groups and people have been spied upon, if not by state agencies themselves then by private investigators contracted by the public service. People surveilled include political and environmental activists, Māori and migrant communities, sexual abuse survivors and earthquake survivors - the list is long.

And one of the most infamous private investigation companies is Thompson and Clark (TCIL). TCIL’s main business appears to be working for a range of both state and private agencies. TCIL, started in 2003 by two former police officers: Gavin Clark and Nicholas Thompson, has been consistently employed by a range of both government and private agencies. (Thompson resigned from his directorship on 6 July 2018.)

Over the years TCIL’s spying has come to light. In 2007 there was news that they infiltrated and spied upon activist groups in Christchurch and Wellington. In Christchurch it was the State Owned Enterprise (SOE) Solid Energy that employed TCIL. In Wellington it was more difficult to find who had employed them, but the groups and people spied upon were Peace Action Wellington and animal rights activists. 

The then Labour government’s reaction at the time was to condemn the use of spying of State owned Enterprises.

But the spying went on and Solid Energy was exposed two years later as still employing TCIL. The Pork Industry Board were also exposed in 2010 as using TCIL, then in 2012 TCIL were noted as being used to spy on Occupy protestors. They published a regular ‘National Extremism newsletter’ that was bought by government agencies such as MBIE and other groups such as the Pig Industry Board and even Massey University. In 2016 TCIL were involved in Protest Karangahake and the TPPA signing. They spied on Greenpeace and set up TOGS: Taranaki Oil and Gas Security Group. And of course, there is their use by Southern Response. 

The use of TCIL continued under both Labour and National governments. It was only after the publication of the inquiry that MBIE announced they served TCIL with ‘a notice to terminate their position on the All of Government (AoG) contract for Consultancy Services.’ 

But it is not only TCIL that has been employed by state agencies, there are other private investigators used, including Insurance and Commercial Investigations Ltd (ICIL), again a company with former police involved in it. Peter Hughes should be aware of ICIL as he was the CEO of the Ministry of Social Development when ICIL were used to spy on people attempting to sue the Ministry. These were people who had been abused whilst they were children in state care. The ‘White Case’ received minimal press coverage at the time; the reason for the spying was that civil claims had to be stopped otherwise it ‘would have broader application in future claims’.

Peter Hughes comments that ‘this is not the way we do it in NZ’ are naïve. This is the way it has been done in NZ for a long time and Peter Hughes and people like him, CEOs and public service management, politicians, and the cult surrounding the NZSIS and GCSB, have enabled a culture of surveillance to dominate. 

Some articles about spying in NZ:
A Quick Look at Some Spying 'Gone Wrong' (16 July 2015)
Lies & More Spies (16 April, 2013)
Surveillance by Default (2 December, 2012)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

GCSB Director wanted to be useful - offered spies to Groser

"Mindful of the importance of being useful", GCSB Director Ian Fletcher offered the GCSB's services to Tim Groser.
When information about the GCSB spying on Tim Groser´s competitors for the job of Director of the WTO became public in 2015, the general assumption was that this was a case of the government leaning on a supposedly politically neutral agency to advance its agenda. 
Instead, what the IGIS´s report portraits is an agency taking it onto itself to do some extra-curricular spying in order to be in the good books with the government. 

The report by Inspector General Cheryl Gwyn is similar to Ian Fletcher´s memory - very specific in some details, but extremely vague in others. It states that it was Ian Fletcher´s idea to approach Tim Groser and offer him some extra spying to help him get the top job at the WTO. The report explains this by Fletcher being "mindful of the importance of being useful", i.e. he wanted to lick Groser´s boots, possibly because there was some public concern about his appointment (he had been appointed by personal recommendation from the PM, somewhat bypassing the usual selection process). 

Groser agreed that it was a good idea and told Fletcher to go ahead ("expressed his acceptance"). This is where the report becomes fluffy. This "acceptance" is subsequently equated with a ministerial approval, for which Groser - then Minister of Trade - was not authorised. The Minister in charge of the GCSB was the PM John Key. The report is silent on whether Fletcher thought that Groser had the authority to approve the spying or whether he just didn´t care. And because record keeping is not the GCSB´s thing and Fletcher´s memory suddenly stopped working after that meeting with Groser, we will never know. 

So it looks like Ian Fletcher used the tools of his organisation to buy himself favours with the government, or to express his gratitude for getting a job for which he wasn´t really qualified. That is the essence of it and it shows how easily a spy agency can be used for personal gain. This is why many of us campaigned so hard against giving these agencies more powers. 

The remainder of Gwyn´s report is interesting, but insignificant. 

There is some consideration given to the question of whether the spying was in the interest of NZ´s national security, as required by the GCSB Act. Gwyn quotes the law, which allows for spying being done for "economic well-being", but only if it advances national security. But then it turns out that this ominous national security isn´t really defined anywhere: "The lack of a statutory definition gives scope for the government to determine as a matter of policy what its approach to national security will be." In other words, the government is free to declare anything it wants to be a matter of national security. Again, this is what many people pointed out as a real danger when all the anti-terrorism legislation was introduced and the powers of the spy agencies were expanded.

Gwyn then refers to the New Zealand National Security System (NSS) framework, which declares "sustaining economic prosperity" to be important for national security. And voilà, Tim Groser becoming head of the WTO is suddenly a matter of national security, because with him in that position, NZ might secure another free trade deal or two. Surprise, the economy is political. The strange thing about the report is that Gwyn clearly describes this circular argument, but then concludes that because it is that way, there is nothing wrong here. 

Another aspect the reports spends some time on is that of the political neutrality of the GCSB. First it turns out that at the time this concept wasn´t actually part of the law. It was, however, mentioned in both the GCSB´s and the DPMC´s internal manuals. 

But Gwyn only looks at this issue from a domestic perspective of party politics. She argues that because Groser´s nomination had been supported by both National and Labour, there was no political advantage here for the government. The issue of international politics doesn´t enter here. As Paul Buchanan points out in an interview with RNZ, the issue of NZ spying on allied countries (who put up their own candidates) is at least problematic and should have been considered. 

And the argument with bi-partsianship for Groser´s candidacy falls short - because it suggest that if Labour had not supported Groser, then the spying would have `arguably´ been illegal. It seems strange to define political neutrality via the absence of an effective opposition. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Protest Tillerson's Visit - Unwelcome the US Secretary of State

Action alert: On Tuesday, the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is landing in Wellington to meet with the NZ Government. 350 Aotearoa have organised an for him at 12:30 pm at Parliament. 

350 Aotearoa are asking people to help 'provide the opposite of the warm welcome Wellington normally gives: we need to unwelcome Tillerson from our Parliament, and protect our Government from climate denial and warmongering.'

If we do want to protect this country from warmongering, one thing to do would be to withdraw from the Five Eyes.

As a member of the Five Eyes we are involved in an international intelligence and surveillance network built to meet the needs of US national security. Our membership of the ‘club’ ensures our continual role in war and expansion of the military and surveillance industries. It means we are active in global mass surveillance and social manipulation.

Our membership in the Five Eyes means we are following Donald Trump.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Intelligence and Security Bill

The week beginning 13 March the Government aims to progress the New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill.

Parliament says the “bill seeks to replace the four Acts that currently apply to GCSB, NZSIS and their oversight bodies, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, and the Intelligence and Security Committee. The Act will be a single, comprehensive piece of legislation to cover these agencies and seeks to improve their transparency.”

The bill, in fact though, is a complete rewrite of the four Acts and creates a one-stop surveillance shop with one law to rule all. It strengthens and entrenches state surveillance powers by removing any real meaningful distinction between the SIS and GCSB. The distinction between internal and external intelligence is totally blurred.

It is worthwhile to remember that over the years many people have protested the expansion of surveillance, including both the SIS and GCSB powers. Between 2009 & 2012 thousands of people protested against the Search and Surveillance Bill. In 2013, John Campbell, on 'Campbell Live’, conducted a poll on the then expansion of GCSB powers - 89% said no to increasing the GCSB powers.

The majority of people do not want the expansion of state surveillance powers but are snowed under by the constant law changes and reviews, and the powerful DPMC PR machine. A PR machine that constantly raises the spectre of terrorism and cyber-threat, but they are only spectres - consider the 'Jihadi Brides'.

As this Bill goes through, the PR machine will kick in and it has already begun. On Monday 13 March the new Anti-money Laundering & Countering Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill was introduced by Justice Minister Amy Adams. This combined with  Lisa Fong’s report of 'multiple attacks on NZ’s nationally significant organisations’ (whatever they are) will mean the words ’terrorism’ and ‘attacks’ will be in the media. (Lisa Fong is the director of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) for the GCSB).

But it is not only the surveillance powers within NZ that are expanding, NZ’s role in the Five Eyes is also further entrenched by the Bill.

Rather than heeding what has been uncovered about the Five Eyes over the last few years (thanks primarily to whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden), the Bill ensures we are supporting the continual growth of the Five Eyes. New Zealand is the fifth member of the Five Eyes and our membership means we are involved in an international intelligence and surveillance network built to meet the needs of US national security (the dominant member of the Five Eyes). Membership of the ‘club’ ensures our continual role in war and expansion of the military and surveillance industries. It means we are active in global mass surveillance and social manipulation.

Some people say the Bill will set a better standard for warrants and will improve oversight of intelligence agencies. But for those people who have hope in that, consider just some points in the Bill - it still allows 24 hour warrantless surveillance, the retention of incidental data and doesn't even define national security.

And just like Stop The Spies pointed out at public meetings and Keith Locke stated in the NZ Herald on Friday 10 March, ‘under the new security legislation the head of an intelligence service can withhold from the intelligence and security committee any information he or she determines to be "sensitive”.’

The definition of sensitive is anything that “would be likely… to prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand or the international relations of the government of New Zealand”.

Keith goes onto point out that the Bill also ‘allows overseas intelligence agencies to censor what the intelligence and security committee can see. For example, information the US Central Intelligence Agency provides our Security Intelligence Service can be provided to the committee only if the CIA agrees.’ (Consider the CIA spying and hacking that was recently leaked through Vault 7)

The government's original plan was to have the Intelligence and Security Bill law passed at the start of this year. It will be happening very soon and it will be a day of great shame.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Waihopai - A Public Shame

More than 70 people gathered outside Waihopai Spy Base in Blenheim on 28 January.

The base has been in operation since the end of the 1980s and from Waihopai NZ hoovers up data to give to the NSA. The NSA have said, the GCSB "continues to be especially helpful in its ability to provide NSA ready access to areas and countries ... difficult for the US to access".

From Waihopai NZ spies on China, Japanese/North Korean/Vietnamese/South American diplomatic communications, South Pacific island nations, Pakistan, India, Iran and Antarctica and this data is given to the NSA.

Waihopai is the most public emblem of the Five Eyes in this country. It became even more visible after one of the domes was slashed in 2008 exposing the satellite beneath. Later Edward Snowden managed to expose more of the doings of the Five Eyes, Waihopai is not a dirty secret anymore - it is a public shame.

We cannot deny that Waihopai and the operations of the GCSB mean we are part of a global mass surveillance, data collection and social manipulation alliance. An alliance established by the UKUSA Agreement at the end of WW2.

The protest outside the base on Saturday 28 January may have been brief but it was followed by a day of workshops in Blenheim where the history of the spybase, the role of the GCSB and campaigning against the base were spoken about.

Waihopai spy base must be closed down and we must dismantle the Five Eyes.

Further Info:
NZ Herald articles on role of GCSB & Waihopai
Snowden revelations / The price of the Five Eyes club: Mass spying on friendly nations

#snowdenNZ / How foreign spies access GCSB's South Pacific intelligence

Snowden revelations: NZ's spy reach stretches across globe

Revealed: The names NZ targeted using NSA's XKeyscore system

Nicky Hager
Anti-Bases Campaign -

The 5th Eye -

iSpy - The Five Eyes Alliance -

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 Waihopai SpyBase Protest

The annual protest at Waihopai will take place January 28th this year beginning with a morning demonstration at the base and then continuing with a day of workshops in Blenheim, including talks and discussions covering the GCSB and the role of the Five Eyes, research skills and the history of non-violent direct action, including the nearly 30 years of protests against the Waihopai base.

Further information can be found on

Monday, October 17, 2016

Submissions on the Bill - round one

With minimal media coverage the submission cycle in response to the NZ Intelligence and Security Bill began last Thursday, more submissions will be heard this coming Thursday (20th October).

In 2014 Chris Finlayson described the Select Committee process as 'chit-chat', and for all intents and purpose it appears to be just that.

Not all members of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee were present at the first round of submissions on Thursday, 13 October. And as David Small gave his submissions via a Skype call, another member left the room. Others turned pages of paper - possibly they were reading David's submission whilst he was talking, it is hard to know.

There has been minimal media coverage of this Bill, there may be a little more coverage after the submissions this coming Thursday. But then there will be quiet again.

After the Select Committee hearings close there will be 'in-house' discussions and then the Bill will then be taken back before the Committee of the House before having its third and final reading and being passed into law.

There may be a few tweaks and changes here and there but this Bill will then become law sometime after February 2017.

Over the years thousands of people have protested and given submissions against the expansion of state intelligence and security laws, but each time the Bills are passed. Some of these Bills passing by only a handful of votes, consider the 2013 GCSB Amendment Bill which was passed by only two votes.

The government does not listen to protests nor submissions - so put pressure on the other parties in the House: currently both Labour and the Maori Party support this Bill - tell them not to support it.

Submissions on the Bill can be found on the Select Committee page.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Oppose the Intelligence & Security Bill

Submissions are being called on for the new Intelligence and Security Bill – but we say it is time to draw a line in the sand. The unrelenting expansion of the NZ Intelligence Community must be stopped.

A brief over-view of the last few years shows how relentless the changes have been:
Since 2007 the NZ SIS Act has been amended a half a dozen times. In 2011 the Video Surveillance Bill became law; a year later the Search and Surveillance Bill was passed. This was followed in 2013 by two changes: the TICS Bill (the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security) and the GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill, a Bill passed by two votes. At the end of 2014 the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill became law.

There has also been a seemingly never-ending series of reports, reviews and a concerted PR blitz:
In 2009 there was the Murdoch Report of the SIS, GCSB and EAB. In 2011 Pipitea House was opened enabling most of the NZ intelligence community to operate under one roof and thus uniting the intelligence culture. In 2012 Paul Neazor reported on GCSB spying in relation to the Dotcom saga, this was followed in March 2013 with the Kitteridge Report on the GCSB and then in 2014 the State Sector Review of the intelligence community was released. In 2015 the Cullen and Reddy Intelligence Review began and there was a lot of talk of ‘Jihadi Brides’.

Now, in 2016, we have the Security Intelligence Bill, and also the review of the Search and Surveillance Act. As soon as people finish submissions on the Security Intelligence Bill, the next round will begin on the Search and Surveillance Act.

We say it is time to say stop the spying. We do not need an expansion of the intelligence communities’ powers. As the UN Rapporteur in May 2016 said, the NZ government had ‘no case for more surveillance’.

But the reality is that this Bill will become law.

In 2013 many of us wrote submissions and thousands of us took to the streets to oppose the GCSB Bill, and we lost. That law was passed with a two-person majority. We know that, with only be a few token changes to the Security Intelligence Bill, this new law will be passed, too. 

The reality is that unless the opposition parties vote against it, the Bill will be passed. Submissions may result in a few changes in the Bill but the key aims of the Bill will be passed: the Bill will bring the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) under one unifying law and remove all restrictions against the GCSB spying on New Zealanders.

You may choose to write a submission on the Bill, but also call upon the parties in opposition to oppose the Bill. Currently, both the Labour Party and Māori Party support it.
Contact them and tell them not to support the Bill – rather than engaging in debate with the government about the 107 recommendations of the review, what is needed is debate on surveillance and its role in society.

Contact both Labour and Māori members of parliament and their electorate offices now:

Maori Party emails:

Labour Party emails:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Friday, July 29, 2016

Review of NZ Search and Surveillance Act underway

The Search and Surveillance Act  2012 is to be reviewed.

The Search and Surveillance Act is to be reviewed and a one-stop intelligence shop could come closer to realisation. Number 4 of the terms of references for the review is that it must look at whether the Act (or any related legislation) needs to be amended to enable broader use of the capabilities of the GCSB and /or NZSIS to support police investigations.

This would tie in nicely with the recommendations by Michael Cullen and Helen Reddy in their ‘Intelligence Review’ that the intelligence community operate under one Act, that is, in all but name there be a merge of the intelligence agencies.

The review of the Search and Surveillance Act is a statutory one required by law to look at the ‘operation of the provisions’ of the Act since it began, to see ‘whether those provisions should be retained or repealed’, and ‘if they should be retained, whether any amendments to the Act are necessary or desirable.

Implicit in Amy Adams announcing of the review however, is that the agencies and institutions covered by the Act need more powers.

Amy Adams (Minister of Justice and member of the Intelligence and Security Committee) states in her press release that technology has changed and therefore the powers of the Search and Surveillance Act need to also change.

A spokesperson for Amy Adams further said, “We can't anticipate the outcomes of the Search and Surveillance review so don't know what new search powers they might look at, or privacy considerations.”

What Amy did not cover in her press release though was the fact that the terms of reference also state that the review must look at the use of the Act (or any related legislation) in relation to the GCSB and /or NZSIS.

The Search and Surveillance Act has been around since it was passed in March 2012 by a narrow majority. But the Bill took a long time to weave its way through parliament - it was introduced first by Labour in 2007 before finally being passed by National. Throughout that time there were wide-spread protests against its passing; the Act drastically extended the powers of not only police but many state agencies to spy and surveil. They gained more power to do unwarranted searches and surveillances. The Act also legalised past police practice that had been illegal, including the police illegal use of hidden cameras during Operation 8 (the operation that resulted in the October 15th 2007 police raids and the jailing of Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara for two and a half years).

The Act also removed the right to silence and the right not to self-incriminate through the introduction of Examination and Production Orders.

When the Bill was going through parliament (there were two rounds of submissions), many people protested and spoke against a ‘Residual Warrant’ clause in the Bill. Residual Warrants were to cover as yet uninvented, unknown things - for example, it could use a technique not yet invented to surveil data stored in a way not yet known. Residual Warrants were removed in its final reading and replaced by ‘Declaratory Orders’ (clauses 65-69). At the time Judith Collins, then Minister of Justice, described Declaratory Orders as “an innovative regime that recognises the pace at which technology is advancing … Declaratory orders allow agencies to obtain a judicial view as to the reasonableness of a new device, technique, or procedure before using it…” Maybe Amy and Judith need to talk.

An overview of the Act can be read here.

Public submissions will be called for and along with consulting various government and private sector agencies and organisations there will also be an expert advisory panel. The brand new Auckland University Law School’s ICT Law Centre is assumed to be one of these ‘experts’. The Law Commission and Ministry of Justice will present the final report on or by 28 June 2017.