Friday, October 12, 2012


The usual tactic when a Minister gets into trouble is to deny everything and blame the department. we saw it with Murray McCully over the gutting of MFAT, and we've seen it from the Prime Minister over the GCSB's illegal spying on Kim Dotcom. But the loyalty of public servants only goes so far, and when they are asked to carry the can for a Minister's fuckups, they tend to get leaky. We saw it over MFAT, and now we're seeing it from the GCSB in a devastating fashion:

Prime Minister John Key is facing fresh claims tonight about what he knew about Kim Dotcom, and just what he may have said about the internet tycoon.

Labour claims it has sources inside the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) spy agency who are adamant Mr Key gave an address to staff in which he spoke of Dotcom.

If it's true, then the timing is highly significant – contradicting Mr Key's previous statements, and Labour says there may even be an audio-visual recording of the address.

A video would be the final straw, but Labour didn't deliver the goods. But what they did deliver was damaging enough: Key was forced to go from denial to "I don't recall" to "I may have" (which is Key for "of course I did") in the space of just a few hours. He's now forked between looking deceitful and looking incompetent, neither of which is acceptable in a Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, GCSB is denying that there is a video (based apparently on an "exhaustive search", which apparently began before the leak and may in fact have triggered it) and has begun an investigation into the leak. Which raises the spectre of a GCSB officer being prosecuted for revealing the non-national-security-sensitive and definitely unclassified information that John Key spoke to them in a cafetaria. Its difficult to see that passing the political smell test, let alone a BORA-challenge (section 6 surely means that it must be interpreted to apply only to sensitive and classified information which is potentially damaging to national security). The GCSB would be fools to go down that path.