Friday, March 11, 2016

The problem with the intelligence review

Writing in the Herald, Toby Manhire hits on the core problem with the government's intelligence review: for all its talk of needing to balance security with liberity, it didn't even bother trying:

Counting words is a crude measure, but can also be revealing. The words "liberty" and "liberties" appear eight times in the 179-page report; four of those in the foreword.

"Freedom" crops up 13 times, four in the foreword, and one in reference to the US "Freedom Act". You'd expect to see the word "security" plenty of times; it is after all a report into security agencies. Still, it's everywhere: 630 times over.

The words "terrorist" and "terrorism" appear 124 times in the report, and fair enough, too. But "civil liberty" and "civil liberties"? Zero.

"Free society" appears twice within the report, meanwhile - once in the introduction and once in the foreword, but isn't it reasonable to hope the concept might get more of a look in? It is, after all, in the title.

To point out the obvious: its not a "balancing exercise" if you only talk about one side of the equation. Sadly, that's exactly what Cullen and Reddy did. And its precisely why we should throw their "independent" report into a volcano, along with the GCSB and all its gear.