Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The SIS: spying on the government's political critics

The big worry about the SIS and GCSB is that they will be used to spy on the government's political critics. Whenever this worry is expressed, the spies and their Ministers say that of course that would never happen. The problem? It has:

Journalist Nicky Hager will receive $66,000 from the Security Intelligence Agency after his phone records were unlawfully spied on.


The SIS sought Hager’s phone records after the journalist published a book, Other People's Wars, in September 2011. The book contained details of New Zealand's involvement in both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, obtained from confidential sources.

A particular Defence Force officer was suspected of being Hager's source, but sufficient evidence could not be found and the Defence Force asked the SIS to assist. It gathered metadata from the officer's home phone and cell phone, and tried to link it with two months of metadata from Hager's home phone.

This was unsuccessful, and both the SIS and the Defence Force pursued the investigation no further.

Acting Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Madeleine Laracy later determined the SIS had no lawful power to investigate.

"I have been unable to find that the [SIS] showed the kind of caution I consider proper, for an intelligence agency in a free and democratic society, about launching any investigation into a journalist's sources," she said.

This was an outright case of the state spying on a journalists who had criticised it. And while this happened in 2011, the current SIS director, Rebecca Kitteridge, defended it to the hilt. Which shows that all their promises of "reform" are lies. They're the same bad old organisation they always were, a threat to our democracy rather than its defender. And it is long past time we disbanded them, or nobbled them so they can never threaten us again.

Interestingly, when I submitted on the Protection of Journalists’ Sources Bill arguing that it needed to be expanded to cover intelligence agencies, DPMC said that it would never be a problem because the purpose of the Intelligence and Security Act's was to "protect New Zealand as a free, open, and democratic society". It turns out they were lying, and that while they were saying this the SIS was covering up exactly the sort of spying on journalists the bill was intended to address. Which tells us that we should never believe anything the government tells us about "national security". Its just self-serving lies from spies.