Monday, August 17, 2015

Widespread Lack of Trust in Security Intelligence Review

There is widespread distrust of NZ´s spy agencies, according to a report published 14th August by The Stop the Spies Coalition. The coalition, which includes the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, the Anti-Bases Campaign, OASIS, the Dunedin Free University and the What IF? Campaign, conducted its own People´s Review of the Intelligence Services in a series of public meetings and discussions in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The report was issued on the closing day of submissions for the official review.

"The People´s Review has solicited a wide range of views from ordinary people in New Zealand about the operations of the intelligence services. The questions raised went far beyond the very narrow frame of reference of the official review, currently being carried out by Michael Cullen and Patsy Reddy," said Thomas Beagle, a spokesperson for Stop the Spies Coalition.

Topics of the submissions included issues of privacy, oversight, the effect of surveillance on society, the lawfulness of the agencies´ activities, NZ´s membership in the 5 Eyes network and whether having the GCSB and the SIS was even desirable and what the alternatives could be.

"Rather than answering the paternalistic and leading questions in the official review submission form, people discussed questions like whose interests the agencies serve, whether we really need them, and whether New Zealand should be in the Five Eyes," said Beagle.

"Further, as the People's Review was being prepared this week, it became abundantly clear that the GCSB and SIS see the official review as an opportunity to put forward their wish-lists asking for more powers. The Prime Minister has already given his blessing to further legislation despite the fact that he won't even hear from this review for another six months."

"Most people are demanding a fundamental change and a curtailing of the agencies' activities, not the ineffectual incremental reforms and increases in agency powers that are likely to be the result of the Cullen/Reddy review."

"Concerns that the GCSB was an outpost of the NSA and that its activities were `linking us to America´s wars´ were common threads of the discussion."

"Where were our intelligence agents when Ernie Abbott was murdered and the Rainbow Warrior blown up?" asked one submitter.

"Rebecca Kitteridge was correct when she said on Monday that without public support, the agencies `might as well pack up.´ The People´s Review clearly shows that that support doesn´t exist. Maybe Ms Kitteridge should consider ordering that moving van," concluded Beagle.

The full review is available for download at: http://stopthespies.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/PeoplesReviewOfTheIntelligenceServices2015.pdf

The Stop the Spies Coalition has three demands:
  • Close down the GCSB - we don´t need to spy on people overseas.
  • Close down the NZSIS - we don´t need to spy on New Zealanders.
  • Withdraw from the Five Eyes - we don´t need to be part of the USA´s global spy network.

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