Fisher on the GCSB and SIS

David Fisher has a lengthy ‘opinion’ on New Zealand’s spy agencies at NZ Herald: David Fisher: Just how bad were our spies? It’s one of his better articles.

Despite the headline looking at a troubled past Fisher also has some optimism for a better future.

John Key has opened up the spy agencies to public scrutiny in a way which we have never seen in New Zealand.

We know more now about what they do and even how they do it.

We know how the two agencies are managed, in that the GCSB and NZSIS both have top-flight lawyers in charge.

In terms of oversight and public disclosure, we are heading into an era unparalleled in our history. Citizens now have more ability to see and have explained the tasks done in their name. Again, it might not be enough but it is considerably more than we have had before.

That’s where we have come to, three years after Mr Key had to admit Kim Dotcom and one of his co-accused had been illegally spied on by the GCSB.

It’s an interesting, reasonable and balanced analysis.

Fisher concludes:

This is the question which needs to be answered – what should the agencies be doing? If their job is “keeping New Zealand society secure, independent, and free and democratic” how can it best achieve that? Among other things, it was confusion about the GCSB’s reason for being which led it into forbidden territory.

If we’re all clear about the path on which the intelligence community is heading, surely there’s far less chance of those agencies accidentally straying into the wilderness.

There seem to have been significant changes for the better in New Zealand’s spying world.

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