Monday, September 15, 2014

Complicit, Compliant and Corrupt



The big issue with what is being revealed by Kim Dotcom and Glenn Greenwald is not so much that metadata is being accessed from ordinary New Zealanders (although this is huge) but the lack of reassurance that the very person who monitors the activities of our spy agencies' activities can't be trusted. It was bad enough that he lied about the appointment of Fletcher to lead the GCSB but the evasiveness about their activities and his claims that he had no knowledge of some of them defies credibility. The way Key has lashed out at Greenwald by calling him a "loser" and "Dotcom's henchman" when he has an international reputation as an honest and capable journalist is not what a true diplomat and world leader would do. We will never know the real truth (or have faith in what we are told) behind our relationship with the Five Eyes or what the GCSB is really up to while John Key is sole person who has the authority to provide that information. 
New Zealand’s SIS and GCSB have never had a particularly good reputation. Keith Locke was spied on since the age of 11 and it is clear that the main uses of cyber spying currently is to protect commercial interests and to listen to those who oppose the policies of the government of the day. Actual terrorism has never been a serious issue for New Zealand and the US has more to fear from its own mentally disturbed mass killers than any terrorist. The death toll from the Twin Towers pales in comparison from those killed in the US by their fellow citizens.
New Zealand’s most recent act of terrorism (Rainbow Warrior) was actually from a friendly country and our police, not our secret service, caught those involved because our spies were too busy documenting what Keith Locke was eating for lunch.
The US is involved in mass surveillance and at any hint of activity that it doesn’t like it sends in a drone and takes people out with no attempt to verify guilt or innocence. It has even been caught tracking the mobile phone calls of allied leaders. Obviously we have dangerous people who threaten the peace and stability of the world but I do not accept ignoring basic human rights and the rule of the law to achieve control. In many cases it just generates more hatred and opposition to the west when innocent people are killed on a regular basis.

Our spy agencies should be more transparent to the New Zealand people about the extent of their activities (not the detail) and any domestic activity should be under the control of the police. Do we really want to be complicit in state sanctioned spying on our allies (as is currently occurring) to get an unfair advantage in commercial markets and trade negotiations? What is X-Keyscore actually doing and why does Key desperately try to divert attention away from it? 
A few years ago China was one of the most dangerous threats to world peace and democracy and now they are our major trading partner. Anyone who tries to question their treatment of the people of Tibet are shouted down and we even bow to Chinese wishes about not supporting Falun Gong members. The fact that members of the Five Eyes Alliance are possibly more likely to spy on their own citizens than China is a worrying hint that something rotten is happening within our democracies.
We have lost our moral compass and I do not agree with the idea that we need to support the Five Eyes because everyone else is spying too. The same flawed argument was used about nuclear weaponry and I suggest that people listen to David Lange’s excellent Oxford speech for a lesson on morality. The argument of using mass surveillance to ensure world peace and security is very similar to that of justifying nuclear weapons, and it is a hollow one.

2 comments:

Philip Todd said...

I have watched the whole thing from the start and think its a case more about John Key getting swept up in the excitement and sense of importance. Its the old playground thing of needing to be on the right team. He did it with the Police once elected PM and felt ten personal policemen made him more important than Helen Clark who used four.
And the Police, Security services and armed forces are pushing all the time to be able to do what they think they should be doing. His job is to have the overview but his need to be popular stops him doing that in a unbiased way. Tony Blair got caught up in the same hype back in 2002 because he loved the importance as well and its not unusual. Power is an aphrodisiac for some people.

bsprout said...

I think you make some good points, Philip. Key has certainly had the royal treatment from Hollywood and Obama because he is willing to do their bidding. Warner Bros won $68 million of tax breaks and changed employment laws from Key and even if the email Dotcom produced was real they would hardly want to drop him in it.

Key is our first celebrity chasing PM and maintaing his image has always been more important than doing the right thing.