Yesterday SSC released its Performance Improvement Framework Report for the New Zealand Intelligence Community (SIS, GCSB, NAB, and bits of DPMC). The short version? Our spies are completely dysfunctional:
A dismal picture of New Zealand's intelligence services has been painted in an official report which has urged greater transparency and says huge change is urgently needed.
It says the intelligence agencies are unclear about what their priorities are while tolerating poor performance and questionable work quality.
It specifically withheld an assessment on the GCSB and NZSIS ability to reach its performance targets, saying doing so would place the security of New Zealand at risk.
But it did say there was a "huge amount of change to be undertaken" and it needed to happen with "urgency".
A declassified version of the report painted a grim picture of the work our spies were doing, saying "national security and intelligence priorities are inadequately defined".
In short, they don't know what they're doing, they don't know why they're doing it, and they're not doing it well. NZSIS can't do its core job - security vetting - in a timely fashion, GCSB can't even count, and they hate each other. Plus they've got poor financial management practices and no idea of how much stuff they own to boot.
And then they wonder at the level of public hostility: its because we doubt their purpose, see their intrusive powers as unjustified, and view them as useless muppets who have never done the job they're supposed to. If the entire NZIC was shut down tomorrow we wouldn't notice and wouldn't care. And that I think is the most powerful argument for doing so.