Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Spy Cables

There's been another major leak of intelligence material, this time from South Africa to Al Jazeera and the Guardian. As usual, it exposes more dubiousness from governments, from Netanyahu's outright lies over Iran's nuclear program to South Africa's State Security Agency spying on its own government. It also appears much of the intelligence circulating to support the 'war on terror" is outright fantasy, given creedance by politicians because someone has stamped it "Top Secret". And then there's the really dubious stuff: South Africa spying on its own citizens at the request of other nations, and spying on non-hostile nations just so they've got something to trade.

And again, it raises the obvious question: if this is how the intelligence world works, are "our" spies doing this? Is the SIS spying on peaceful New Zealanders because some dipshit foreign authoritarian doesn't like what they say (yes)? Is the GCSB spying on our neighbours, who we quite like actually and want to get along with, because the US is interested in them (almost certainly). Such quid pro quo arrangements have nothing to do with our national security, and appear to be well outside our spy agencies' functions, and would therefore be illegal. But our intelligence oversight bodies are forbidden from investigating operational matters, or focused on process, rather than policy - which means that they don't provide oversight of this sort of thing. Which means the spies get to run riot.