US discussion – Rice unmasked

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‘Intelligence’ and politics (the opposite of intelligence) in the US continues to get murkier. Can the world’s greatest democracy (that’s how they have described themselves) survive the rot that is apperent on both sides of the growing divide.

Wall Street Journal: Susan Rice Unmasked

On the matter of who “unmasked” the names of Trump transition officials in U.S. intelligence reports, we now have one answer: Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s national security adviser.

A U.S. intelligence official confirms to us the bombshell news, first reported Monday by Bloomberg, that Ms. Rice requested the name of at least one Trump transition official listed in an intelligence report in the months between Election Day and Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Ms. Rice received summaries of U.S. eavesdropping either when foreign officials were discussing the Trump team, or when foreign officials were conversing with a Trump transition member. The surveillance was legally authorized, but the identities of U.S. citizens are typically masked so they cannot be known outside intelligence circles. Ms. Rice asked for and learned the identity of the Trump official, whose name hasn’t been publicly disclosed and our source declined to share.

The news about Ms. Rice’s unmasking role raises a host of questions for the Senate and House intelligence committees to pursue. What specific surveillance information did Ms. Rice seek and why? Was this information related to President Obama’s decision in January to make it possible for raw intelligence to be widely disbursed throughout the government? Was this surveillance of Trump officials “incidental” collection gathered while listening to a foreigner, or were some Trump officials directly targeted, or “reverse targeted”?

The Democrats are badly tainted by this. But they are not alone on that count.

None of this should deter investigators from looking into the Trump-Russia connection. By all means follow that evidence where it leads. But the media have been running like wildebeest after that story while ignoring how the Obama Administration might have abused domestic surveillance for its political purposes.

Americans deserve to know the truth about both.

And then what? Trump and the White House will carry on ignoring convention and truth regardless.

And the Republicans and Democrats look torn been trying to destroy their opponents and self destructing.

Trump v. US ‘intelligence’ agencies

I’m sure it’s been said before that US Intelligence is an oxymoron. They have somewhere around 20 intelligence agencies for a start (including the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces), with conflicting jurisdictions, and with rivalries and a lack of systems that prevents comprehensive consolidation of intelligence.

US intelligence agencies have long clashed with their democracy, notably in the Nixon era. Recently Director James Comey inserted the FBI into the presidential election, quite possibly swinging the result.

There have been controversial claims by multiple intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the presidential election, and that Donald trump’s campaign team had ongoing contact with Russian interests.

And now that Trump is president things seem to be getting worse, with ongoing leaks from intelligence agencies that conflict with and and undermine the presidency.

There are some claims that intelligence agencies won’t tell Trump things for fear of their methods being passed on to Russia.

Salon covers much of this in Trump vs. the Deep State: This death match of American political power will forever change history -President Trump escalates his battle with the U.S security apparatus.

The firing of Gen. Michael Flynn has popularized the concept of the “Deep State” across the political spectrum.

Breitbart’s Joel Pollak attacks the disloyal “Deep State #Resistance” to President Trump, while conservative pundit Bill Kristol defends it.

“Obviously [I] strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics,” Kristol tweeted Tuesday. “But if it comes to it, [I] prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

Glenn Greenwald is more even-handed: “Trump presidency is dangerous,” the Intercept columnist tweeted Wednesday. “CIA/Deep State abuse of spy powers to subvert elected Govt is dangerous.”

And the conflict is deepening. The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump wants to bring in Wall Street billionaire Stephen Feinberg “to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies.”

The idea is reportedly provoking “fierce resistance” from intelligence officials who fear it “could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.”

They describe ‘Deep State’:

The Deep State is shorthand for the nexus of secretive intelligence agencies whose leaders and policies are not much affected by changes in the White House or the Congress. While definitions vary, the Deep State includes the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces.

The leaders of these agencies are generally disturbed by Trump’s cavalier treatment of their intelligence findings and particularly worried about contacts between Trump’s entourage and Russian intelligence officials.

There are known facts plus many claims and accusations that are at least partially unsubstantiated.

As Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire noted, the undisputed facts are accumulating:

  • Multiple U.S. intelligence services believe that Russian operatives, at Putin’s directions, tried to help Trump get elected. The FBI is investigating contacts between Russian officials and at least three people connected to Trump’s presidential campaign: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone.
  • There were “continuous” contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officials. At least some of the claims made in a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence official have been confirmed, though none of the more salacious details.
  • Trump has had many financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, as shown in an investigation by the American Interest.

As a result, the intelligence agencies are withholding sources and methods from the president out of fear they will leak to foreign powers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Senior officials are also leaking the results of the ongoing investigation into Trump to reporters at The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The leaking of classified information, which Trump welcomed during the 2016 campaign, is indeed a felonious violation of the law, although it has been standard procedure for Washington power players since the passage of the National Security Act in 1947.

It is a serious threat to US democracy, and a serious threat to Trump’s presidency:

Vanity Fair calls the crisis of Trump’s presidency Watergate 2.0. The historical analogy is apt because the Watergate scandal that engulfed President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s was also a struggle between the White House and the intelligence agencies. But today’s crisis is more accurately described as Trump vs. the Deep State.

It is the death match of American political power and it will determine the fate of Trump’s troubled presidency.

It could be said that Trump is a serious threat to his presidency and to the US, but his clash with ‘Deep State’ is particularly ugly, and is likely to make more of a mess of US democracy.

More on ‘Deep State’:

Labour supports spy bill

Labour say they will support the Intelligence and Security Bill being introduced to parliament this week through the first reading and intend to push for some improvements at committee stage.

This is a sensible and responsible approach.

It is important that all parties work together to ensure we end up with the best protection possible but keep the best protections possible for privacy of individuals.


Better balance needed in Intelligence Bill

Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party

Andrew Little

Leader of the Opposition

Labour will support the NZ Intelligence and Security Bill to select committee so the issues can be debated nationwide and important amendments can be made, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.

“The legislation controlling the work and scope of New Zealand’s Intelligence and Security agencies needs to be updated so they can adapt to a rapidly changing environment and new challenges. However this must be balanced with the privacy and rights of all New Zealanders.

“The Cullen Reddy Review showed that amending legislation is necessary. While we will support the Bill at first reading, it does not get the balance quite right. I have confidence changes can be made at select committee which is why Labour will support the Bill at first reading.

“There are concerns in the Bill that Labour wants to see addressed. The definition of National Security must be amended at Select Committee following a national debate. At present the definition is too broad and must be narrowed down to actual threats to security and government.

“It is also concerning that the legislation appears to have ignored a number of the protections for personal information suggested by the Cullen Reddy Review. These are vital and must be a part of the legislation. In today’s world it is too easy to ignore privacy concerns and we have seen what happens in the past when protections aren’t clear.

“Labour is supporting the Bill through its first reading in good faith that these changes can be made. These will result in a better piece of law that gets the balance between security and privacy right,” says Andrew Little.

Intelligence and Security legislation

The Government is introducing a bill to Parliament this week as a result of the review done by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy.

I think this is potentially a good move, as long as they get the right balance between improved security, improved transparency, and protection of privacy for the vast majority of New Zealanders who are not a threat.


Intelligence and Security legislation introduced

Prime Minister John Key today introduced a bill to update the legislative framework and improve the transparency of New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies.

The New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill 2016 is the Government’s response to the first independent review of intelligence and security presented to Parliament in March 2016 by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy.

“At the heart of this Bill is the protection of New Zealanders,” says Mr Key. “We have an obligation to ensure New Zealanders are safe at home and abroad.

“Therefore it is vital our agencies operate under legislation which enables them to be effective in an increasingly complex security environment, where we are confronted by growing numbers of cyber threats and the rise of terrorist groups such as ISIL.

Mr Key says the Government has accepted the majority of recommendations put forward in Sir Michael and Dame Patsy’s independent review.

“The bill is the most significant reform of the agencies’ legislation in our country’s history,” says Mr Key.

“It clearly sets out the agencies’ powers, builds on the robust oversight for the agencies we introduced in 2013 and establishes a new warranting regime.

“At the same time, it protects the privacy and human rights of New Zealanders.”

Key aspects of the legislation include:

  • Creating a single Act to cover the agencies, replacing the four separate acts which currently exist.
  • Introducing a new warranting framework for intelligence collection, including a ‘triple lock’ protection for any warrant involving a New Zealander.
  • Enabling more effective cooperation between the NZSIS and GCSB.
  • Improving the oversight of NZSIS and GCSB by strengthening the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and expanding parliamentary oversight.
  • Bringing the NZSIS and GCSB further into the core public service, increasing accountability and transparency.

“As I have said before, we are keen to get broad political support for this legislation,” says Mr Key.

“The Government takes its national security obligations very seriously. New Zealanders can be assured we are taking careful and responsible steps to protect their safety and security.”

The Bill has been introduced today. The first reading will be on Thursday.

For more information visit https://www.dpmc.govt.nz/ins

No mass surveillance

The First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand  looked at whether mass surveillance was being carried out by the GCSB.

The report  concludes that there is no mass surveillance.

It was clear to us from our discussions with GCSB staff and from the GCSB’s own internal policy documents that these restrictions are interpreted and applied conservatively.

Far from carrying out “mass surveillance” of New Zealanders, the GCSB is unable to intercept New Zealanders’ communications even where it is for their own safety.

For example, the GCSB would be unable to analyse the communications of a New Zealander taken hostage in a foreign country unless it was assisting the NZSIS, NZDF or Police under their legislation.

That’s unlikely to change the minds of security and surveillance critics. Green co-leader Metiria Turei:

The GCSB had already been “quite liberal and loose” with their existing activities, and they should not be given more powers until it was clear they would follow the law.

That’s the opposite of what the report found.

Here are relevant references from the report.

1.11   In New Zealand, there has been considerable debate in the media about whether the GCSB conducts “mass surveillance” of New Zealanders. Having spent some months learning about the Agencies’ operations in detail, we have concluded that this is not the case, for reasons we discuss below.  However, there is a degree of scepticism among the New Zealand public about the Agencies’ activities.

In a survey carried out by the Privacy Commissioner in 2014, 52 percent of respondents were concerned about surveillance by New Zealand government agencies. We received a number of submissions from people who did not see the need for intelligence and security agencies at all and considered there was no justification for the government intruding on individuals’ privacy.

Does the GCSB conduct “mass surveillance”?

3.34  As we discussed in Chapter 1, there has been some debate in the public arena about whether the GCSB conducts “mass surveillance”. In light of this, we considered it important to describe what the GCSB does and does not do. While we cannot go into as much detail as we would have liked given the classified nature of the GCSB’s operational activities, we hope what we can say will inform this debate in a useful way.

3.35  “Mass surveillance” is a term that can be understood in a number of different ways. In this context it is important to distinguish between communications that are collected by GCSB systems – for example, its satellite interception station at Waihopai – and those that are actually selected and examined by an analyst.

3.36  The reality of modern communications is that it is often not possible to identify and copy a specific communication of interest in isolation. If a particular satellite might carry a relevant communication, the GCSB cannot search for that communication before interception occurs. First it needs to intercept a set of communications, most of which will be of no relevance and will be discarded without ever being examined by an analyst. This is the haystack in which the needle must be found.

3.37  Even this “haystack” represents only a tiny proportion of global communications. The GCSB conservatively estimates that there are over 1 billion communications events every day on the commercial satellites that are visible from Waihopai station. These represent approximately 25 percent of commercial satellites that match the Earth’s rotation (although signals cannot always be secured even from those satellites that are visible). We were told the proportion of those 1 billion communications that are actually intercepted equates to roughly one half of a bucket of water out of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

3.38  To find the “needle” (or the communications that are of intelligence value), the GCSB filters intercepted material for relevance using search terms. Only those communications that meet the selection criteria are ever seen by an analyst. The GCSB has internal processes in place toensure analysts justify their use of each search term and record all searches for the purpose of internal audits and review by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

3.39 Given these controls on what information can actually be examined by analysts, in our view the GCSB’s ability to intercept sets of communications does not amount to mass surveillance. That term suggests a kind of active monitoring of the general population that does not occur. It would neither be lawful nor even possible given the GCSB’s resourcing constraints.

3.40 Capacity acts as a check on all signals intelligence agencies, although it is particularly pronounced for the GCSB given its comparatively small size. It is simply not possible to monitor communications (or other data) indiscriminately. Professor Michael Clarke, the (now retired) Director-General of the UK’s Royal United Services Institute who convened the 2015 Independent Surveillance Review, referred to this when giving evidence before the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill:97 The other great safeguard is the sheer physical capacity. One will be astonished at how little [intelligence agencies] can do, because it takes so much human energy to go down one track. The idea that the state somehow has a huge control centre where it is watching what we do is a complete fantasy. The state and GCHQ [the UK’s signal’s intelligence agency] have astonishingly good abilities, but it is as if they can shine a rather narrow beam into many areas of cyberspace and absorb what is revealed in that little, narrow beam. If they shine it there, they cannot shine it elsewhere. The human limitation on how many cases they can look at once is probably the biggest safeguard.

3.41 We also observe that there are currently restrictions on the GCSB’s ability to intercept the private communications of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. These restrictions apply to New Zealanders anywhere in the world, not just those in New Zealand. It was clear to us from our discussions with GCSB staff and from the GCSB’s own internal policy documents that these restrictions are interpreted and applied conservatively. Far from carrying out “mass surveillance” of New Zealanders, the GCSB is unable to intercept New Zealanders’ communications even where it is for their own safety. For example, the GCSB would be unable to analyse the communications of a New Zealander taken hostage in a foreign country unless it was assisting the NZSIS, NZDF or Police under their legislation.

 

 

 

Intelligence and security review

The report of the First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand was released today.

Stuff reports: Spy agencies explainer: What you need to know about the report into spying laws

What’s this spying report about?

Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy have published their independent report on the laws that cover New Zealand’s spy agencies – more specifically, whether they’re fit for purpose or need changes.

What have they said?

There are 107 recommendations, but the main one is a new law to cover both the SIS and the GCSB. The agencies are currently covered by various pieces of legislation dating as far back as the 1960s, and Cullen says having one law for both agencies will eliminate the confusion and contradictions that are stopping them from working together more effectively.

Reactions:

What do our politicians think about the report?

Key has been fairly complimentary, saying it makes “some very valid points” about improving the balance between national security and the public’s right to privacy.

Labour leader Andrew Little says he “certainly sees some sense” in having one law for both agencies, but he has some concerns about how far the GCSB’s powers will be expanded, as well as proposals to provide the agencies with greater access to government agencies’ databases.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei is scathing about the report, saying the recommended changes would represent “one of the most significant erosions in New Zealanders’ privacy that we’ve seen in modern times”.

And…

So, what happens next?

Key says the Government will take a look at the recommendations and speak to Labour about what the two parties could back together.

Any new legislation would be put forward by July, although the Government wouldn’t necessarily adopt every proposal, and the law would go before a select committee so the public could share their thoughts.

Key is keen to win cross-party support, and Little’s initial comments seem to indicate Labour could back some form of new law, which would provide a comfortable majority.

More pressure against mass data collection

The New Zealand public was assured that no mas collection of communications was done by the GCSB. This didn’t stop speculation and claims that mass collection was being done, in large part due to the revelation that Five Eyes partner the USA carried out mass collection.

It was believed by some that this data was then available to our GCSB, despite assurances only specifically targeted people were investigated under legal warrants.

This has changed now, as NZ Herald reports in NZ to face pressure over mass collection of telephone data.

A decision to stop the mass collection of Americans’ telephone data will put pressure on New Zealand intelligence agencies to stop any similar programmes operating here.

Last week the US House of Representatives voted to end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records through the USA Freedom Act, which was already backed by the White House.

The bill, which only affects people within the US, would empower the agency to search data held by telephone companies on a case-by-case basis.

It was re-confirmed that mass collection didn’t happen here.

Rebecca Kitteridge, director of the Security Intelligence Service, yesterday told the same conference that mass surveillance did not take place.

“We do not live in a surveillance state where everything you do online is reported – at least not by the Government. So, please enjoy the freedom that the internet gives you – you are free to click on whatever you want on your device, and you won’t pop up on our system.

“Typically we get our leads through our interaction with the public, and information provided to us by other agencies.”

In a speech Peter Dunne says the US change will put pressure on the Security and Intelligence review that starts this year,

In a speech to a privacy and identity conference in Wellington, Mr Dunne said it was crucial that there were robust systems in place to protect the privacy of personal information from a “coercive or prying” state.

“Last week, the United States House of Representatives voted to stop the mass collection of Americans’ telephone data by the National Security Agency.

“I suspect New Zealanders would have a similar view about their telephone records, and that there will now be pressures on our intelligence agencies to stop any mass data collection programmes they have underway, especially if it is being made available on an indiscriminate basis to other countries.”

Asked after his speech if he believed mass collection programmes were operating here, Mr Dunne told the Herald that the recent US action raised questions that should be addressed in an upcoming review of our intelligence agencies.

“I think in context of the intelligence services review, that American decision becomes pretty relevant. If it is illegal in the United States to gather that data…then, you have to say, if it is being gathered in New Zealand – and that’s an open question – and provided, you can’t have it both ways,” Mr Dunne said.

“You can’t say it’s illegal here [in the US] to provide this data about our people, but it’s not illegal for you [New Zealand] to provide data about your people to us. I think that is the question I am raising, and I think that’s something the review needs to consider.”

The review:

Next month a wide-ranging review headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Michael Cullen and lawyer Dame Patsy Reddy will examine both the SIS and GCSB.

The first regular review of the agencies, it will examine the legislative framework governing them, and consider how they are placed to protect New Zealand’s interests and security.

It would be good – and essential – to clarify the issue of how partner countries could assist with data gathering. As far as I’m aware it would still have to comply with our laws and only be done under warrant in specific circumstances.

Cullen and Reddy to lead GCSB/SIS review

A requirement of the intelligence and security legislation passed in 2013 was that reviews must be done every 5-7 years, and the first of these reviews is due to start this year. It has just been announced that Dame Patsy Reddy and Sir Michael Cullen will lead the review.

Cullen is ex Deputy Prime Minister and has served as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Reddy is a barrister and solicitor with over 20 years of corporate governance experience.

Intelligence and security agencies review – Terms of reference

The purpose of the review, taking into account that subsequent reviews must occur every 5 – 7 years, is to determine:

  1. whether the legislative frameworks of the intelligence and security agencies (GCSB and NZSIS) are well placed to protect New Zealand’s current and future national security, while protecting individual rights;
  2. whether the current oversight arrangements provide sufficient safeguards at an operational, judicial and political level to ensure the GCSB and NZSIS act lawfully and maintain public confidence.

The review will have particular regard to the following matters:

  1. whether the legislative provisions arising from the Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters legislation, which expire on 31 March 2017, should be extended or modified;
  2. whether the definition of “private communication” in the legislation governing the GCSB is satisfactory;
  3. any additional matters that arise during the review as agreed by the Acting Attorney General and notified in writing in the NZ Gazette.

When determining how to conduct the review, the reviewers will take into account:

  1. the need to ensure that a wide range of members of the public have the opportunity to express their views on issues relating to the review;
  2. the need for the law to provide clear and easily understandable parameters of operation;
  3. the Law Commission’s work on whether current court processes are sufficient for dealing with classified and security sensitive information;
  4. previous relevant reviews and progress towards implementing their recommendations;
  5. relevant overseas reviews to identify best practice in areas relevant to this review, including oversight arrangements;
  6. that traditionally, signals and human intelligence have been carried out separately and the Government does not intend to consider merging those functions within a single agency.

Media release on the appointment of Reddy and Cullen:

A respected Wellington lawyer and a former Deputy Prime Minister are to lead the first regular review of New Zealand’s security and intelligence agencies.

Acting Attorney-General Amy Adams announced today that she intends to appoint Dame Patsy Reddy and Sir Michael Cullen to carry out the review.

“This will be an important and challenging review, and I’m pleased Sir Michael and Dame Patsy have agreed to lend their expertise to the task. They bring complementary skills and experience to the role. Sir Michael is a former member of the Intelligence and Security Committee and has knowledge of national security issues. Dame Patsy has extensive governance experience and legal expertise,” Ms Adams says.

“The GCSB and SIS have a crucial role in protecting New Zealand’s interests and it is vital that New Zealanders have assurances that they have a clear and appropriate legal framework to operate within.

“Regular reviews help ensure the law keeps up with changing risks to national security, while protecting individual rights and maintaining public confidence in the agencies.”

Ms Adams says she has asked the reviewers to ensure members of the public have the opportunity to express their views.

“It’s important that members of the public have a clear understanding of the functions of our intelligence and security agencies, and the oversight and safeguards that apply to their work.”

The review will look at the legislative framework governing the agencies and consider whether they are well placed to protect New Zealand’s current and future national security, while protecting individual rights. It will also determine if the current oversight arrangements provide sufficient safeguards to ensure the GCSB and NZSIS act lawfully and maintain public confidence.

While other reviews have examined aspects of New Zealand’s national security system, such as the 2013 PIF Review, the 2012 Kitteridge review and the 2009 Murdoch review, this will be the first review to look at the broader legislative framework and oversight of the agencies.

The first review will begin in June 2015 and be completed by the end of February 2016. The reviewers will carry out the review independently and report directly to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee. Future reviews will occur every 5 to 7 years.

The terms of reference for the review can be found at: http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/i/intelligence-and-security-agencies-review

Biographies of the reviewers

Hon Sir Michael John Cullen KNZM (MA, PhD)
Sir Michael is a former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister. While in government he held several ministerial portfolios including Minister of Finance, Attorney-General, Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Deputy Prime Minister. He is also a former member of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Since retiring from Parliament in 2009, Sir Michael has served as Deputy Chair and Chair of theNew Zealand Post Board. He was appointed to the Constitutional Advisory Panel in 2011, overseen by Hon Bill English and Hon Dr Pita Sharples. He is also currently the co-chief negotiator for Ngati Tuwharetoa and advisor for a number of other Iwi.

Dame Patricia (Patsy) Lee Reddy DNZM (LLM)
Dame Patsy is a barrister and solicitor with over 20 years of corporate governance experience as a non-executive director of Telecom New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Sky City Entertainment Group, New Zealand Post and Southern Petroleum New Zealand.

She is currently Chair of the New Zealand Film Commission, Deputy Chair of New Zealand Transport Agency, Independent Director of Payments NZ Ltd and Active Equity Holdings Ltd, and Chief Crown Negotiator for Treaty Settlements in the Bay of Plenty region. She was lead reviewer for several Performance Improvement Framework reviews of government agencies. She also has significant experience in the arts and not-for-profit sectors.

Dame Patsy has previously been a member of the New Zealand Markets Disciplinary Tribunal and a partner in law firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. She has also lectured in the Faculty of Law at Victoria University of Wellington.

Dunne demands transparency on Security review

Peter Dunne supported a review of our security legislation in his opening speech for the year in Parliament yesterday, asking for public engagement, openness and transparency.

This is not a political issue; this is a New Zealand issue. We are talking about New Zealand’s security interest—New Zealand as a nation—our domestic security and our international security.

It is not a game of political one-upmanship, but a game of ensuring that those who operate in that very peculiar world are accountable, are transparent, and have very clear lines of operation that Parliament has ordained for them.

Full draft transcript:

There is one other area that the Prime Minister touched on that is also extremely important, and I think we can actually start to make some progress.

There is to be a review this year of our security legislation. I think that is good. It is proper. But it needs to be conducted in a transparent and open way, and there are two steps I think that need to be taken sooner rather than later.

The review has to be established by 30 June this year. I think the form of the review needs to be made public well before its establishment, and I think the draft terms of reference need to be published and socialised around this House in the first instance and more broadly before they are adopted.

This is not a political issue; this is a New Zealand issue. We are talking about New Zealand’s security interest—New Zealand as a nation—our domestic security and our international security.

It is not a game of political one-upmanship, but a game of ensuring that those who operate in that very peculiar world are accountable, are transparent, and have very clear lines of operation that Parliament has ordained for them.

Last year the then-director of the Government Communications Security Bureau gave an extraordinary speech where he spelled out the objectives of his agency as he saw them. One of them was advising the Government on military strategy.

That is not the role of an intelligence agency.

It might be the belief of those who like wearing trench coats and walking around in the shadows and what they think is the role of an agency, but it is not the role of a responsible agency today, particularly against the backdrop of the revelations that people like Edward Snowden have made and various other whistleblowers around the world have shown about the way in which these organisations operate.

No one is actually saying you do not need them. Everyone seems to be saying they need a more open and accountable environment.

Some of the Greens and fringe left activists may disagree that no one is actually saying you do not need them.

The review this year provides that opportunity, and I sincerely hope that the Government takes the chance to ensure that what arises is a robust, credible set of organisations that can meet both the test of public scrutiny and the test of time, because increasingly as tensions grow, the challenges that they will face in terms of providing credible, independent intelligence to the Government of the day will also grow.

If there is any doubt about the competence of that, then I think we are in a very sad way.

Some things must remain secret and be done in secret, but it is essential that the New Zealand public has confidence in our security legislation and in our security services.