Media Link: The Slater/SIS/PM’s Office OIA debacle.

datePosted on 10:30, November 25th, 2014 by Pablo

Sometimes one has to speak bluntly but honestly about unethical behaviour within the NZ intelligence community. The revelations about the way in which an OIA request from a notorious right wing blogger was handled by the then Director of Security and Intelligence and the office of the Prime Minister in 2011 affords one such opportunity to do so.

Short of taking monetary or personal favours, this is official malfeasance of the first order and is corrosive of the professional integrity of the intelligence community. Shame on all involved.

9 Responses to “Media Link: The Slater/SIS/PM’s Office OIA debacle.”

  1. Anne on November 25th, 2014 at 18:57

    Two short paragraphs is all that was needed. Thanks Pablo. Shame upon shame indeed. And that includes the most “malfeasant” prime minister ever to grace these shores. Shame on John Key. He set the example and it trickled down through the ranks. Yet he remains in total denial over his role in this shabby, grubby affair.

    Richard Nixon comes to mind and his ‘malfeasant’ conduct didn’t end happily for him did it.

  2. aj on November 25th, 2014 at 21:13

    “Short of taking monetary or personal favours”

    Since this assisted a National election win, it is effectively a personal favour with monetary value to National’s backers. I never thought I’d see this type of criminal behaviour in New Zealand politics.

  3. chris diack on November 27th, 2014 at 10:08

    I don’t want to tell you how to suck eggs Paul but have you actually read the IGIS Report?

    First, the fact that there is a regular NZSIS Director briefing to the Leader of the Opposition is not of itself secret it is in the NZSIS Act 1969.

    Story appears in Southland times re Israeli spies in ChCh.

    Key first says no comment. Then later in the day says there is nothing in the story after investigation.

    Goff says Key handling of the issue is a mess and critically “I was never briefed about it”

    Key checks with the Director who says Goff was briefed.

    Key states publicly Goff was briefed.

    Goff gets his dander up and re-states that he was never briefed.

    The IGIS report finds that Tucker actually gave Goff the SIR on the issue. Tucker describes recalling Goff’s eyeballs traversing the first page while they were discussing something else. The Director believed that Goff was capable of doing two things at once (listen and read). The front page of the report says there is no issue with the Israeli tourists (that is probably why Goff could not recall it).

    Goff admits that it might have been mentioned in passing but not what he believes to be a “briefing.” He denies ever holding the document. (He was at the time accusing Key of being sloppy and forgetful and so is hoist).

    The IGIS accepts that Goff had the report in his hands but may not have read it. So the Director’s notation on the document that he read it was not determinative is should have said “shown” not “read”.

    So on the major factual point Tucker was probably right. The briefing worked the way they usually do – it is driven the by interests of the individual being briefed. Goff was not that interested in the Israelis as the report disclosed nothing in the story.

    What the IGIS found was misleading was that the paperwork released headed “Agenda” was not in fact a circulated to Goff meeting agenda, but rather an aide memoire for the Director for the meeting. Again it cannot be determinative of what Goff actually knows.

    She finds that Tucker should have explained that.

    His lack of judgement was to treat Goff’s statements as a reflection on his integrity and that of the NZSIS. (This is what made the OIA go at speed not The PMO).

    In essence because the director has a duty to brief and ensure the service remains politically natural Mr Goff is permitted to arguably misrepresent (probably through lapse of memory) what he was told for the sake of these two statutory duties: a briefing him and maintaining political neutrality.

    Actually Dr Tucker and the NZSIS comes out of this well not that you will read that in the media. Mr Goff/Labour would rather discuss Key and Slater than the core factual question.

  4. Pablo on November 27th, 2014 at 11:02

    Chris:

    I have read the entire report and stand by my assertions. As for the March 2011 meeting, Tucker did not give Goff the full brief that he gave the PM. He kept no record of his brief of Goff (there were no note-takers). The informality of the brief to the Opposition leader is problematic but is rooted in tradition, when the old boys in the political elite were all pals or school mates. Those times have changed.

    The IG found that Tucker and his senior staff (at least a half dozen were involved in the release of the edited and redacted briefing notes) deliberately manipulated the briefing notes in a way that made Goff look bad (hence the use of the word “incomplete” in her findings).

    She also characterized Tucker’s behaviour as “unprofessional,” to which I would add unethical.

    She said that Tucker and the senior staff had trouble understanding that the OIA request from a blogger should be treated no differently than that of the media, which I find hard to believe given their collective experience in the public service and intelligence community. If you read from about page 52 through page 75 of the report, as I have, you will see a long list of damning actions by the SIS management team. Again, basic ethics and institutional integrity were compromised.

    Tucker told the PM’s Deputy Chief of Staff at least 3 days before Slater’s OIA request that he was going to release the edited brief in response to the furore over it. The deputy chief of staff told the scumbag Ede, who got on the phone to the sociopath to spell out word for word what he should say in his OIA request. At the same time the SIS ignored all other media OIA requests about the briefing notes.

    Tucker may not have known that the weasels in the dirty tricks cadre were going to have a field day with the tampered brief (a violation of the public records act, BTW), but I am being generous in saying that because as the head of intelligence he just might have had a clue about what was going on in the PM’s office and the use of private email addresses and FB private messages by Ede and others in government to conduct their scheming and plotting while avoiding the OIA coverage of official government communications.

    Be that as it may, Tucker presided over the illegal spying on 88 Kiwis while head of the GCSB. He had his hand in the Urewera fiasco and the Dotcom raid. His track record is mixed at best and this latest revelation suggests that his integrity is something only he believes he has. What is clear is that he served his political masters well–and that includes Helen Clark–but at the expense of the public interest.

    You might benefit from seeing this: http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/sis-boss-admits-no-record-goff-receiving-spy-briefing-4340822.

    As for me sucking eggs, well, I am too polite to respond in kind.

  5. chris diack on November 27th, 2014 at 13:27

    Oh dear you glide past the SIR (the five page report) on the Isrealis that she finds Mr Goff saw but may not have read (despite Tucker remembering his eyeballs moving accross the first page). Goff denies holding it seeing it or reading it.

    You are focussing on the OIA not the core factual dispute.

    The briefing as as good as the Leader of the Opposition (or any other senior MP) want to make them.

  6. Anne on November 27th, 2014 at 16:18

    The briefing worked the way they usually do – it is driven by the interests of the individual being briefed. Goff was not that interested in the Israelis as the report disclosed nothing in the story.

    So, who do you think you are kidding here Chris Diack?

    This is the former Foreign Affairs minister who, together with Helen Clark some 2/3 years sooner, had handled the case of the two Mossad spies who came here to steal NZ passports. After having pleaded guilty in a court of law, they were sent back to Israel with their tails between their legs and Clark and Goff received an official apology from the Israeli government.

    At the mere mention of the two words, ‘Israel’ and ‘spies’, Goff’s ears would have been flapping so hard they may well have fallen off!

    Perhaps that is why the former SIS director chose to ‘disguise’ the incident in the first place. He didn’t want to have to pick up the pieces of the floor!

  7. Anne on November 27th, 2014 at 16:22

    The briefing worked the way they usually do – it is driven by the interests of the individual being briefed. Goff was not that interested in the Israelis as the report disclosed nothing in the story.

    So, who do you think you are kidding here Chris Diack?

    This is the former Foreign Affairs minister who, together with Helen Clark some 2/3 years sooner, had handled the case of the two Mossad spies who came here to steal NZ passports. After having pleaded guilty in a court of law, they were sent back to Israel with their tails between their legs and Clark and Goff received an official apology from the Israeli government.

    At the mere mention of the two words, ‘Israel’ and ‘spies’, Goff’s ears would have been flapping so hard they may well have fallen off!

    Perhaps that is why the former SIS director chose to ‘disguise’ the incident in the first place. He didn’t want to have to pick up the pieces off the floor!

  8. Psycho Milt on November 27th, 2014 at 18:29

    You are focussing on the OIA not the core factual dispute.

    For the excellent reason that Tucker’s unethical handling of OIA requests, the PMO’s involvement in that unethical activity and Key’s subsequent denial of it are the actual issues at hand. Goff and Tucker’s disagreement over a briefing is a matter of concern only to them.

  9. paul scott on November 27th, 2014 at 20:40

    We don’t care Pablo, we are sick of it. We want effective surveillance and to see the defeat of a mad religion which would kill your family. Shoot first question later.

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