Tuesday, March 01, 2016

A strapped chicken

The first periodic review of intelligence and security agencies submitted its report yesterday. But while its been sold to the public as an "independent" review, it turns out that John Key has been ordering them to make certain findings:

Mr Key said he expected that the report would be made public next week after the committee had discussed it.

But he said he had met the reviewers during the process and asked that their recommendations be acceptable to both major political parties.

"One of the instructions we gave the reviewers was to try to come up with some recommendations that not only worked but could meet common ground," Mr Key said at his post-Cabinet press conference today.

(Note: the reviews terms of reference make no mention of such an instruction, so he's definitely talking about an instruction delivered once the review was underway).

While it seems like a fairly benign example, it fatally compromises the review's independence, and invites the question of what other "instructions" he has given them. And it certainly ends the pretense that this is any sort of outside look at the spies. Instead, its a pair of insiders, with findings potentially dictated to them by the Prime Minister - a total strapped chicken.