Wednesday, November 5, 2014

SIS Law Changes: 'Remember, remember – terror, terror, terror'

Is it deliberate or ironic that John Key's 'security threat' talk was on Guy Fawkes Day, the 5th of November?

As children in some parts of the world sing 'Remember remember the fifth of November: gunpowder, treason and plot' and light bonfires and explode fire crackers, John Key's mantra has been 'terror, terror, terror - we are in danger'. 'We' need to be kept safe because 'our' way of life and the values that shape 'our' society are under threat.

We need protection and John Key's government will provide it.

This morning at Victoria University, Wellington, John Key talked about the need for quick law changes to strengthen SIS surveillance powers and curtail people's rights to travel. These are changes that cannot wait until next year's scheduled intelligence review.

The five key changes announced are:
  • the cancellation of passports for up to three years
  • the suspension of passports temporarily for up to 10 working days in urgent cases whilst preparing the paperwork to cancel the passport
  • video surveillance by the SIS (NZ Security Intelligence Service) in 'a private setting or which would involve trespass onto private property' ie. in people's homes and on marae
  • 48 hour surveillance by the SIS without a warrant
  • a cash injection into the SIS so they can increase the number of people working to monitor and investigate 'foreign' terrorist fighters.
The last time SIS powers were expanded was back in July 2011 with the passing of the SIS Amendment Bill. That Bill had been announced in December 2010 despite the Privacy Commissioner's recommendation that there be a review of the security laws. Key said at the time that the legislation had to be changed quickly to keep us safe during the Rugby World Cup.

He also said at the time that we did not need to know what the changes to the legislation would be.

This year John Key hasn't stooped that low, he has specifically announced some of the proposed expansions of power. But just like the last changes – these too, are occurring before a review of our security laws. At the rate at which we are going there will never be a time for a review as there will always be a new threat to 'our' security (next year, maybe it will be ANZAC).

But even though in today's speech Key may have actually articulated supposed changes, there are still unanswered questions: how did they identify the 80 people who Key says are supporting ISIS? (Or are they a subset of the GCSB's 88?) How does one become a suspect and subject to passport cancellations and surveillance? How will people be added to the list of 80?

Is this knowledge coming from the newly created 'Group of Ten'?

Just this morning, the Herald published the results of an Official Information Act request – the creation of a 'group of free thinkers' to help save us. This group, named the 'Strategic Risk and Resilience Panel', will detect unseen threats to our national security and advise the PM of danger before it arrives. Why didn't he mention the Group during today's talk?

The Group, headed by Ian Fletcher, GCSB boss, is a mixture of corporate and state bigwigs ranging from the chair of Fisher and Paykel Appliances to the CEO of the Cricket World Cup. The group will report to ODESC (Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination), a group within the DPMC (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet).

John Key says we live in a dangerous world. I agree. We do. We live in a world where we have to constantly fear the steady expansion of state and corporate power at the expense of civil liberties.

We have a lot to fear from Key and Co. 
Remember remember - state terror.

The members of the 'Group of Ten' are:

Ian Fletcher - head of the Government Communications Security Bureau
Sir Peter Gluckman - PM's chief science adviser
Therese Walsh - chief executive of the 2015 Cricket World Cup
Karen Poutasi - chief executive of NZQA
Keith Turner - chairman of Fisher and Paykel
Richard Forgan - consulting partner at PWC
Hugh Cowan - Earthquake Commission executive
Lt Gen Rhys Jones - former Chief of Defence Force
Helen Anderson - director of Dairy NZ, Niwa and Branz
Murray Sherwin - chairman of the Productivity Commission.
SOURCE: NZ Herald, (5.11.2014) Free thinkers target security risks.

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