Our spies justify their existence, budgets, and intrusive powers by claiming that they are all necessary to "defend the country" (from who? Penguins?). But over the weekend, we received another reminder of what they actually do: spy on politicians:
Newly declassified files from the Security Intelligence Service show secret police spied on future Labour Prime Ministers in the 1920s who were suspected of having Communist sympathies.
The SIS has released thousands of pages of secret files on Michael Joseph Savage, Peter Fraser and Walter Nash from a spying operation on the Labour Party in the 1920s and 30s. The spies were amassing dirt files on the men who would later become their political masters.
Their personal files were destroyed, but other Special Branch and World War II Security Intelligence Bureau files recorded between 1920 and 1945 have been transferred to Archives New Zealand.
And lest anyone think this is all in the past, it was going on throughout the 2000's, and (despite Parliament regarding spying on MPs as a matter of privilege) is probably going on now. Our spies have never trusted us to elect the "right" sort of government, instead viewing democracy as a threat. But the fact that they surveil our politicians and collect dirt on them makes them the threat, not us.
If we want our democracy to be safe, we must disband the SIS. Defund them, shut them down, sack or pension off their agents, and destroy their secret dirt archives. Burn them down and salt the earth to prevent them from springing up again. A peaceful democracy has no need of spies, and its long past time we admitted this, and acted on it.