Monday, September 15, 2014

Key lies to us again

When Gleen Greenwald spoke on Saturday morning and accused the GCSB of engaging in mass-surveillance, John Key was absolutely unequivocal: it didn't happen. His spies had apparently looked into a mass surveillance program, but it had never been implemented.

Now he's telling us that part of it was implemented:

Mr Key has said the GCSB was working on a business study for a form of "mass cyber protection" following cyber attacks on several large New Zealand companies. Mr Key had told them it was too broad a net. However, this morning he indicated it had gone ahead on a limited capacity.

"I said I think it's too broad .. so in the end I said let's set it at a much more narrow level."

And tomorrow he'll no doubt be telling us that OK, he gave them everything they wanted, but its not "mass surveillance".

He was also quite unequivocal this morning that "we don't use our partners to circumvent the law" (another claim he has made repeatedly). Greenwald apparently has documents that show they do. What will it be then? "we only circumvent the law a little bit?"

And this is the problem in a nutshell: Secrecy lets our leaders lie to us. It lets spies get away with breaking the law (88 cases revealed as a result of Dotcom, plus whatever we learn tonight), and no-one can be held accountable for it. And when there's a hint of transparency around wrongdoing, we get selective declassification to protect the Prime Minister's reputation (something which raises some very pointy questions).

That's just wrong. When government agents break the law, they should be punished just like any other person. And the Ministers and officials who are supposed to make sure they don't need to lose their jobs. Secrecy and spies are a barrier to that. And that's why we need to end both.