Keith Locke on SIS apology for labelling him a threat

Keith Locke was a Green MP from 1999 to 2011, having been a long time political activist. One of his aims in Parliament was to be a civil liberties watchdog, so it is ironic that he was the target of SIS attention.

Locke has recently revealed that he received an apology from the SIS for calling him a threat.

The Spinoff: Spy chief’s apology to me reveals scandalous truth about the SIS

The revelation in 2009 that Green MP Keith Locke had been spied on since age 11 caused an uproar and prompted an inquiry into SIS surveillance. Now, he writes, the SIS has been forced to apologise for calling him ‘a threat’ in internal documents.

Last April I received a letter from Rebecca Kitteridge, the director of the Security Intelligence Service, apologising for the way I was referred to in internal SIS documents. She wrote that I had been described as a “threat” in speaking notes for a Joint Induction Programme run by the SIS and the Government Communications Security Bureau since 2013.

AN EXTRACT FROM SIS DIRECTOR REBECCA KITTERIDGE’S LETTER TO KEITH LOCKE, DATED 16 APRIL 2018

In the SIS documents I was identified as an “internal” threat because I “wish[ed] to see the NZSIS & GCSB abolished or greatly modified”. The documents labelled this a “syndrome”.

In her apology, Kitteridge said “the talking point suggests wrongly that being a vocal critic of the agencies means you are a ‘threat’ or a ‘syndrome’. In fact, people who criticise the agencies publicly are exercising their right to freedom of expression and protest, which are rights we uphold, and are enshrined in the Intelligence and Security Act 2017.”

I haven’t gone public on this until now, but given the recent news about several other state agencies spying on people, I decided that what happened to me should be in the public domain.

In his December report, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes described the state spying on critics of deep-sea oil drilling, like Greenpeace, “an affront to democracy”. Like Kitteridge in her letter of apology to me, Hughes said that it was “never acceptable for an agency to undertake targeted surveillance of a person just because they are lawfully exercising their democratic rights, including their right to freedom of expression, association and right to protest.”

Most disturbingly, many civil servants in the cases Hughes identified must have known about this illegal, anti-democratic surveillance without blowing a whistle on it.

In my case, many SIS and GCSB officers must have heard me being identified as a “threat” without challenging it. How else could the disparaging reference to me have stayed in the officer training material for ten years. Kitteridge told me the “threat” label was carried over into the Joint Induction Programme speaking note from a “Protective Security Advice presentation (believed to have been developed in about 2008)” and “a historical security aide-memoire (believed to have been developed in 2012).”

To make matters worse, the ten year period when I was deemed to be a “threat” includes the last three years (2008-2011) of my 12 years as an Member of Parliament.

It seemed pretty clear that the SIS had breached to MOU requirements for political neutrality, by treating a sitting MP and his views as a “threat”, so I wrote to the current Speaker, Trevor Mallard, about it. He didn’t think the MOU had “been breached in any way.”

Mallard side-stepped my contention that the SIS had acted in a politically biased manner, but did admit that “certain materials being used by the security agencies contained inappropriate expressions of opinion regarding your conduct, including during a time that you were a member of Parliament.”

He said he met regularly with the SIS Director “and will continue to ensure that she is aware of the need for security agencies to respect the role and independence of Parliament.”

I have to disagree with the Speaker that it was just a matter of the SIS using “inappropriate” language. For a spy agency to describe someone as a “threat” is serious. It identifies them as a target for some form of monitoring or surveillance, and this is what has happened to me over many years.

My file illustrates the main function of the SIS over the years, which hasn’t been to track down criminals (which the Police do quite well) but to spy on political dissenters.

This is a serious issue in what is supposed to be an open democracy.

 

 

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31 Comments

  1. Trevors_Elbow

     /  19th January 2019

    So this is an interesting snippet:
    “State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes described the state spying on critics of deep-sea oil drilling, like Greenpeace, “an affront to democracy”.”

    Why is that an affront?

    Greenpeace REGULARLY break the law – they board and occupy ships (looking at L Lawless and friends), drop people in front of ships under way on the high seas ( looking at R Norman).

    Other protest groups do things like trespass and damage state equipment (the people who damage the listening station at Waihopai)

    Moreover – the Courts often discharge them without conviction in some type of bend over backwards protesting is a right contortion. Protesting IS a right – but deliberate;y breaking the law by damaging someone else’s property, or interfering in someone undertaking their day to day business legally is not part of that right.

    As we have seen in the Urerewas we have fringe activist types who are willing to step over the mark and proceed down avenues that could be very dangerous for public figures and the general public. (Queue BOL with his normal defense of nothing to see here – nothing happened. If that was true then the defense lawyers wouldn’t have worked so damn hard to stop evidence gathered under a flaw piece of legislation from being tabled in court. Pity we will never see that evidence, I suspect it is VERY illuminating…)

    SIS and other security agencies need to act within the law but lets be clear, some activist groups very much an eye kept on them…

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  19th January 2019

      Agree. I have a copy of a Green activists handbook. The information contained is on par with what Intelligence agency recruits would receive. Some of these Greeens aren’t dolphin whistling, windmill spinning ‘peace for all’ types. They have a serious agenda.

      I also wish I’d saved the clip of Tame Iti being informally interviewed by ( Mikey Havoc?) regarding his Urerewa activities. Even though the questions were soft, Tame’s body language didn’t need an expert to decipher. His usual gathered persona left him, along with his verbosity.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  19th January 2019

        hahahahaha – ‘ I have a copy of a Green activists handbook’

        ‘Green cover’ is it ? From your days in special branch

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  19th January 2019

          ”hahahahaha. ” That’s a maniacal laugh you have there, Dook. Hold on, I may be able to help. And no, not from my Special Branch days.( isn’t that English😁)

          Reply
        • Corky

           /  19th January 2019

          Ok..have the facsimile in front of me. Typical Greens..no table of contents. Choose a page between 1-130 and I will reproduce the juiciest part.

          You have a 10 minutes. I have work to do.

          Reply
        • Corky

           /  19th January 2019

          Times up. Kitty may carry on your ‘crusade for the truth.’

          Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  19th January 2019

    GCSB broke the law and had the temerity to excuse themselves because they didn’t know the law.

    S.I.S is a reliable source of prejudice and fuck ups.

    Poor old Warren Tucker was always hiding from the…media.

    Key’s regime was the expansion of STASI type spying on ordinary hardworking NZ’ers.

    Reply
  3. Ray

     /  19th January 2019

    Anybody who thought Pol Pot might be a positive influence on Cambodia is not a “treat” but thanks to his judgement is a threat, MP or not!

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  19th January 2019

      what did the western alliance do to remove Pol Pot?

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  19th January 2019

        Would you have approved of a western intervention to remove him?

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  19th January 2019

          Didnt he just ‘welcome the revolution taking over in Cambodia’ not the actual reality of that.
          US Involvement in Cambodia let to the communist take over by Pol Pot

          Plenty of western leaders ‘praised’ various dictators at times as well. Saddam Hussein , Mugabe amoung them

          Anyway Mps are to support who ever they wish, voters can decide if thats wise.

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  19th January 2019

            “US Involvement in Cambodia let to the communist take over by Pol Pot”

            No. The North Vietnamese were using it as a staging base, and the Khmer Rouge were very much their ally. It was their support, along with the Soviet Union and China that led to that take over. To blame the US is really pathetic.

            “Plenty of western leaders ‘praised’ various dictators at times as well. Saddam Hussein , Mugabe amoung them”

            Standard Total Academic View on Cambodia.

            The academic world in the West had a lot of cheer leaders for the Khmer Rouge. Oddly, they faded away rather quickly, esp after one of the more vocal ones (Caldwell) got wacked by the very person he admired so much.

            Reply
  4. Gezza

     /  19th January 2019

    Locke’s right to complain about being seen & described and spied on a as “threat” himself. Can’t see how he was ever up to any kind of skullduggery – he was always clear on what he stood for and against and as far as I’m aware he never broke any laws that would warrant such OTT suspicion & surveillance.

    Very disappointing response from the Speaker. But I would expect him to not want to criticise the SIS & potentially cause problems if the current government wants to bend to rules for any reason at any time. They all seem to have done it.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  19th January 2019

      For those who don’t know his background very much in my neck of the woods and times there is a good write-up of his family in Wikipedia about his mother, Elsie Locke.

      Reply
    • NOEL

       /  19th January 2019

      Aw Geeza anyone with Communist associations during that period probably have a file with SIS. In the context of the times that would flagged him as a threat.
      Anyway Locke doesn’t have a very good understanding of the role of SIS.
      “My file illustrates the main function of the SIS over the years, which hasn’t been to track down criminals (which the Police do quite well) but to spy on political dissenters.”

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  19th January 2019

        During one of our interminable restructurings and regular flushings of business-world jargon that washed through my department we inevitably wound up with in-house versions of templates for running a SWOT analysis over just about every idea the management or pollies came up with:

        Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats

        In the context of these (some of the things subjected to SWOT analyses were pretty bloody ridiculous but a hallmark of our swinging door professional managers was going overboard on any management concept the CEO heard and wanted brought in immediately to make everything train wreck they created work properly) a Threat could be a somewhat innocuous thing, just something that could be a minor problem needing a mitigation.

        Fortunately we had detailed Risk Identification and Management templates as well so a lot of time and thinking went into how we could mitigate possible impediments or objections to plans that were sometimes less of a discomfort than having go through a ridiculously extensive checklist to mitigate a threat that wasn’t really much of a threat.

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  19th January 2019

        Well, I’ve just had a read of the Spinoff article. I can see how Locke’s got a valid complaint about the way he is described in documents – when even the director of the NZSIS says it was inappropriate, it was.

        But there’s a helluva lot more information NOT in that Spinoff article than there IS and so we have bugger-all context for anything referred to.

        I take your point Noel that in seeming to suggest that he thought the SIS’s job was to track down criminals he is either dumb – or he’s stirring his usual anti-security agencies pot for some reason that is not yet completely clear.

        In his December report, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes described the state spying on critics of deep-sea oil drilling, like Greenpeace, “an affront to democracy”
        Wasn’t that in relation to Thompson and Clark, that private investigation and security firm that every department and its dog seemed to be using for all sorts of spying on dissenters and complainers?

        A bit dodgy of him to be trying to confuse readers into thinking SIS and GCSB’s role is the same thing. I dunno, maybe we should keep an eye on him. What’s he up to these days?

        Reply
      • Blazer

         /  19th January 2019

        To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”things that make you go…hmmmm.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  19th January 2019

          Who can’t we criticise?

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  19th January 2019

            Jews.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              What? You do. And I criticise the Zionist ones stealing more and more Palestinian land & provoking them so as to attack them and suppress them frequently.

            • Blazer

               /  19th January 2019

              yes but you must be anti semitic ,a holocaust denier or a PLO /Hammas ..sympathiser!😂

            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              Nope. None of the above. PLO became the authors of their own and Palestinians’ misfortune. Utterly hopeless situation now. No idea how to communicate with the rest of the world and the fundamentalist Islamic shite Hamas spouts is anathema even to other Arabs now. Only works on the Iranian theocrats. And even their own Iranian people are fed up to teh back teeth with them.

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