The Two-Faced John Key And The Hapless Andrew Little

- John MInto

Poor John Key. It must be hard for a Prime Minister to keep up a far-fetched façade for as long as John Key has in denying GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) involvement in mass surveillance of New Zealanders. Confusing and confounding the public with smelly red herrings is a normal part of his job but when Key has to explain again and again, because his previous dishonesty has been exposed and new obfuscations are needed, it gets tedious and frustrating. 

In the face of incontrovertible evidence that the GCSB conducts mass surveillance of our Pacific neighbours and sends the unprocessed data direct to the US National Security Agency (NSA) the Prime Minister was properly rattled. He offered no counter argument or evidence but instead delivered strident attacks on the messengers – Nicky Hager in particular – who were exposing his various fabrications.

Faced with calls for his resignation because he’d previously said he’d resign if claims of mass surveillance by the GCSB were proven Key then created another. It’s not mass surveillance says Key – it’s mass collection of data! Like a burglar who says it’s not theft – its relieving people of burdensome property, Key is a two-faced manipulator of language. You have to respect his gall and the ability of the mainstream media to sell his line to the rest of us. In the normal course of politics a Prime Minister would be held to account for such lies and dissembling but Key has two important factors on his side.

Media & Labour Key Allies On GCSB Spying

Firstly, the mainstream media have poo-poohed the latest revelations of mass surveillance of Pacific nations. Wedded as they are to US-dominated global capitalism they say it tells us nothing we didn’t already know and we should just shrug our shoulders alongside John Key and move on. Leave it to the GCSB and the NSA to keep us safe. Yeah right! So aside from widely reporting the Prime Minister’s incredulous bluff and bluster there has been little deeper analysis.

Secondly, and just as important to Key’s position, is that Labour has precisely the same policy and Labour Leader Andrew Little’s comments have simply added to the smokescreen John Key is doing his best to create around this issue. In my lifetime the Labour Party has been as tightly wedded to unquestioned support for US global surveillance as National. Even when the rift over access to New Zealand ports for US nuclear warships came to a head in the mid-1980s under Labour, and the US directed heavy criticism of New Zealand’s position, the flow of surveillance information to the US continued untroubled. It was under a Labour government that the Waihopai mass surveillance spy base was commissioned to ensure the New Zealand “deep state” kept up business as usual with the NSA.

So while Labour expresses muted concern at indiscriminate mass surveillance it has no policy alternative to National. The best it would come up with during the 2014 election campaign was support for a “security review” to ensure the GCSB was following the law. In other words: business as usual. And after the latest revelations of mass spying on our Pacific neighbours Labour Leader Andrew Little was given a private briefing by the GCSB and emerged to tell us that as a result he is “more assured about the activities of the GCSB”. What a pathetic comment.

Later in 2015 the Government will conduct a security review of our intelligence agencies with Labour on board and we can be absolutely assured the outcome will ensure the GCSB can continue to provide unfettered support for global mass surveillance by the US. We owe a huge debt to people like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Katharine Gun and Nicky Hager* who have exposed global mass surveillance and in whose interests it operates. It is over to us as citizens to act on it. *All of those names will be familiar to readers, except maybe Katharine Gun. See Bob Leonard’s review of “The Spy Who Tried To Stop A War: Katharine Gun And The Secret Plot To Sanction The Iraq Invasion”, by Marcia and Thomas Mitchell, in Peace Researcher 39, January 2010, Ed.


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