Reaction to Key’s visit to Iraq

John Key plus a media contingent have spent an eventful three days visiting Iraq.

I presume there were good political and diplomatic reasons for doing this, considering the risks involved and the resources required. I don’t think strongly for or against the visit.

There was obviously a reaction to the news of the visit on Twitter. I haven’t bothered to look for it, but this was one journalist reaction:

OKAY LET ME JUST EXPLAIN THIS. The PM’s trip was SECRET. there was a MEDIA BLACKOUT. we are reporting it now bc he is NOT THERE ANY MORE.

christ on a tapdancing bicycle. i GET IT that some people do not like John Key or journalists but REALLY. WHAT ARE YOU LIKE?

i mean. MEDIA BLACKOUTS EXIST FOR REALLY GOOD REASONS. we are NOT TRYING TO KEEP STUFF FROM YOU. it’s bc HE MIGHT HAVE GOT ATTACKED BY ISIS.

This was some of the reactions:

He risked the lives of media & everyone else involved. Not to mention the cost. I have a family member in armed forces and they absolutely HATE it when politicians do these sort of things. They don’t want them to visit, because of the risks.

Which is why it’s kept secret. ok? i get that you don’t like John Key. but i’m reporting this stuff bc it’s my job.

I don’t care that it was a secret, I care that the jerk had the audacity to go in the first place, its appalling

John Key risked the life of someone I care abt today – that is UNFORGIVABLE Jessica, I don’t care how brave it makes Key.

And:

And that, right there, is you buying into the dramatic PR narrative they’re trying to push.

Thomas, that’s a really silly thing to say. and you know it. you think i have no experience with this stuff?

I think we all know, you included, that this was *exactly* the coverage they expected/wanted when they planned this visit.

It looks like in some way being a journalist can be as in the line of fire as a politician – and not just on a visit to Iraq.

Williams is political editor for RadioLive.

Hager reveals spying on China

The latest in a series of spying revelations from Nicky Hager focuses on How NZ and US agents plotted to spy on China.

A plot to spy on China is the most damning revelation from the Snowden documents.

I guess that’s relating to New Zealand. We’ve plotted to spy on China? I’m not very shocked. I’d have been shocked if it was revealed we’d never spied on China.

The files show how, under the John Key National Government, spying has been prioritised against China, New Zealand’s largest and most important trading partner.

A 2013 NSA document placed “collection on China” first on a list of targets monitored by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) on behalf of the NSA.

And not surprising that keeping an eye on China is a major priority.

Sure, revelations like this can cause some diplomatic embarrassment. But will they do any more than that?

China is known to be a major perpetrator of espionage on the global stage, and the US Government has repeatedly accused it of hacking into American computer networks.

Last year, China was linked to a hacking attack on a powerful New Zealand supercomputer operated by Niwa, used to conduct weather and climate research.

Wow, China do it too.

But the Snowden documents have shown countries in the so-called “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance – which includes New Zealand, the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia – are just as heavily involved in cyber spying and hacking.

Yeah. Shocking.

Thomas Beagle, Council for Civil Liberties chairman, said the leak of the documents was an important democratic step to allow a level of involvement by the people being governed. “We need to know these things because we can’t practice our diplomatic oversight without it. If we don’t know these things are happening it’s out of the realm of democracy.”

When it comes to ‘spying’ – foreign intelligence – there does need to be some transparency and scrutiny, but there also needs to be some secrecy.

He said other countries used a panel of trusted citizens as the oversight mechanism for intelligence agencies.

Which other countries? How effective is it? Without any details this is meaningless, it says nothing more than ‘New Zealand bad, other countries good’.

What needs to be asked is whether all these drip fed revelations are for the greater good or whether they are potentially damaging to New Zealand.

Hager and Beagle are unlikely to answer that.

The spy wolf is being cried quite a bit. Would we know if something truly concerning is revealed? The Government will be able to bat it off with “that’s just more Hager’.

If you’re watching the GCSB legisalation debate…

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