Reactions to spy reviews

There is a general review starting this year of the GCSB and SIS as stipulated for in legislation passed in 2013, and the Inspector General of Security and Intelligence has initiated a review of the way the GCSB undertakes foreign intelligence activities.

Radio NZ political editor Brent Edwards in Spy agencies come under scrutiny:

What is most needed from the review is a clear summary of how the intelligence agencies can best work to protect New Zealanders’ safety and interests while not compromising their privacy and freedoms.

Most people accept there is a need for spy agencies.

The challenge is to ensure they are able to do their job without trampling on the rights of the citizens they are meant to protect.

If Sir Michael and Dame Patsy can achieve that they will do much to improve public confidence in the country’s intelligence agencies and ensure those agencies have the appropriate powers to keep the country safe.

In the meantime, too, the investigations by Ms Gwyn might also reassure the public.

Mr Key will argue, with some justification, that this is all evidence that under his government the country’s spy agencies face greater, not less, accountability.

But the critics will wait for the review and inquiries to report back before deciding whether he is right.

Green MP Kennedy Graham in Warning Govt must not influence GCSB review:

Green Party security and intelligence spokesperson Kennedy Graham is happy former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Michael Cullen and lawyer Dame Patsy Reddy are leading the review.

“You’ve got two good people undertaking the task, but the precise terms of reference will determine a lot of what the two reviewers can do and can say.”

Graham asserts the most important thing is for the Government to be totally hands-off.

“Subliminal or even explicit messages from the Government as to what the reviewers can or can’t do or should or shouldn’t do…whether the Government signals an advance.

“[It’s to be seen] whether it will take certain aspects of a review seriously.”

David Farrar at Kiwiblog in Cullen to head up security law review:

Having Michael Cullen as one of the reviewers is an inspired move, as he will take a sensible approach to such a vital issue, and it will be very difficult for certain political parties to attack the recommendations if he is part of them.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei in Spy agencies investigated for political gain, again:

John Key’s lack of oversight of our spy agencies has once again made them the subject of an inquiry by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) into their political spying.

The IGIS review is oversight in action.

The IGIS has announced she is looking into allegations that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) was spying on Tim Groser’s rivals for the position of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This investigation comes in the wake of IGIS investigations into allegations contained in the Dirty Politics book and allegations of spying in the Pacific.

“It is unprecedented for a government agency to be investigated by a watchdog three times in the space of nine months,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“Once again, the investigation relates to John Key using our spy agencies for his political purposes and gain.

“Every major allegation made against John Key and his spy agencies has been, or is being investigated, by the IGIS; yet John Key continues to deny our spy agencies are out of control.

“It is further evidence that John Key’s hands are off the wheel in his own department.

“We need a comprehensive and independent review of our spy agencies; the two person beltway panel the Government has set up appears to be a stitch up.

“We need independent experts who can fix our spy agencies and make sure they operate within the law,” said Mrs Turei.

The Greens may never be happy as long as there’s a GCSB and an SIS.

Greg Presland at The Standard in Spy watchdog to investigate GCSB’s help for Groser’s campaign:

All strength to Spy watchdog Cheryl Gwynn.  She is probably going to drop off John Key’s christmas card list for doing so but she has announced an investigation into the GCSB’s spying on friendly nations to help Tim Groser’s tilt at the top trade job.

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