Blog Link: Slater/Key/OIA/SIS–irrefutable proof of the PM’s lies.

Not that readers of KP will need much convincing, but Selwyn Manning has written a decisive essay on why the PM is lying about his involvement in the Slater/SIS/OIA fiasco. To do so he uses the State Services Commission’s guidelines for the release of sensitive information. The question now is twofold: 1) should NZ trust an individual as PM who overtly involves himself in political dirty tricks such as those uncovered by Nicky Hager? 2) should NZ trust a PM who repeatedly bald faced lies to the public on matters of considerable import?

As the saying goes, we may be stupid but we are not idiots.

Anyway, read the proof for yourself.

19 thoughts on “Blog Link: Slater/Key/OIA/SIS–irrefutable proof of the PM’s lies.

  1. So what part of “I was in Hawaii and was not phoned about this” don’t you understand? The PM has even offered up his phone logs so that this can be verified. Of course, your semi-knowledgable interpretation of crown law is much more important than actual fact, isn’t it?

  2. MacDr,:

    For a medical professional you sure seem to have some basic comprehension difficulties. And if your tone is indicative of your bedside manner with patients that do not unquestionably follow your line of advice, well…perhaps they need a second opinion.

    Let me rephrase this as simply as possible for you. It is the 21st century. In the 21st century even national leaders from the most primitive of countries have electronic access to the home office. This can be done over secure or insecure channels, both private and official. It can be done in a variety of ways–land line, official secure cellphone or email, private cellphone or email, etc. Depending on the platform used, the contents of any particular communication can be destroyed, modified or deleted afterwards.

    If you had read the article you would see that Key had to sign off on the OIA. Under SSC rules Tucker had no choice but to pass it by him–not his office, but Key personally. This could be done face to face or over the range of communications listed above.

    In retirement Tucker may take the fall, but as an active public servant with more than 20 years in the intelligence field, it is highly unlikely that in 2011 he would have played so loose with the SSC rules even if he was annoyed with Goff for questioning his version of events regarding the March 2011 briefing.

    So stop being so partisan and silly. Your smile and wave boy is a liar, and a pathological one at that. I will leave it for others to determine if he is also corrupt and/or a crook.

  3. If you are worried about reading,comprehension, then before you get too excited about yet another silver bullet that will finally finish off Key, you should first be a bit more critical in your review of Selwyn’s report.

    He’s made a significant error in his interpretation of the SSC guidelines, and overhyped things in general which means he has put 2 + oranges together and got a flamingo, or a FLOCK NO LESS.

    He says

    Beyond this, the Government’s guidelines are promulgated, or formally declared, by the Prime Minister’s office itself. The State Services requirement stipulates: “Attention is drawn to the guidelines promulgated by the Prime Minister’s office on consultation between Ministers’ offices. Essentially these provide for the Private Secretaries and Press Secretary in each office to be responsible for the managed release of Official Information Act requests by Ministers’ offices.”

    he then says that this creates “a REQUIREMENT (sic) for all public servants of ministries, departments and intelligence agencies to be bound by. ”

    It does nothing of the sort. It is used as a helpful example of how you could manage a consultation through a co-ordinator. It specifically says there is no set procedure. And in the case of the SIS OIA, the section is irrelevant because it was a departmental OIA while the quoted section is about “the managed release of Official Information Act requests by Ministers’ offices.”

    If he has got a relatively simple bit of reading comprehension so wrong, how can you be sure the rest of it be the gamechanger you claim?

    This is reinforced when he dresses it up in self important phrases like “INFORMATION THAT I HAVE ACQUIRED, sourced from the State Services Commission” (ie it’s on their website where anyone can read it); and

    “states in black and white the tight guideline requirements that must be followed whenever the SIS informs a Prime Minister of any pending release of sensitive intelligence information.”

    Well it does nothing of the sort. Never mentions the SIS. Its a guideline not a rule. It specifically says there is no set procedure. but apart from that, he’s batting 1000.

    For reference, the full section says this:

    “B. How to consult?
    There is no special procedure for consulting with a Minister or another department regarding an official information request. Departments may wish to develop their own procedures for such consultation. One possibility might include nominating an Official Information Act officer to be responsible for co-ordinating any Official Information Act requests and to act as a point of first contact for other departments seeking to consult.

    Attention is drawn to the guidelines promulgated by the Prime Minister’s office on consultation between Ministers’ offices (attached). Essentially these provide for the Private Secretaries and Press Secretary in each office to be responsible for the managed release of Official Information Act requests by Ministers’ offices.

    NOTE: Communication is the key factor which will assist in consultation.”

  4. Thanks Insider.

    That is a much better critique than the good doctor’s, although I must say that you sound much like Key and his minions when you write of “guidance” rather than requirement. That is akin to differentiating between the letter and the spirit of the law, in this case violating the spirit via a rigid interpretation of the term “guidance.” More to the point, do you really believe that Key would not be aware at all of such a politically sensitive and potentially controversial OIA request being granted in such an expeditious manner, and that his office did not consult him on it before approving the release of the briefing notes in question?

    I trust Selwyn’s judgement and his sources on this one. He is not in the habit of engaging in spurious speculation, so I doubt he simply consulted the SSC website and just spun his own yarn. Should he read this he can directly answer your rejection of his argument.

  5. I deliberately didn’t argue the guidance issue as there are lots of nods and winks around “guidance” that make it more than that.

    he said it was in black and white but only quoted the ssc so i don’t have anything else to go by

  6. Ps, i think key leaves a lot of things up to staff. Remember English didn’t tell him about signing off warrants. In some respects it’s refreshing if that’s the case. I suspect he left it to eagleson and the sis on this, as it was essentially a political issue not an intelligence one.

  7. insider..OIA has strict terms viz. 20 Working days. Therefore refernce to release xa & has been implied by Selwyn. Without reading his analysis Warrren Tucker was a public servant that did dot his ‘i’ & cross his ‘t’s’. I know his discipline .. he would have tripled checked his action points before engagement. 100%.

  8. Chris

    i really didn’t understand your comment. Not sure what the 20day limit has to do with things.

    tucker absolutely followed the ssc guidelines based on what I’ve read. Selwyn is claiming tucker was absolutely required to physically inform key directly. Selwyn’s provided no evidence for that requirement.

  9. Insider:

    I agree that Key leaves a lot to staff. That is a deliberate way of achieving distance, and thus plausible deniability, on contentious issues and decisions. But I would argue that matters of intelligence are simply too important to leave to staff. A Minister ofTourism can do that. A Minister of Security and Intelligence can and should not. Therein lies the problem with Mr. Key.

  10. A few ‘fixers’ appear! There is a rather longer play here if Nicky Hager’s performance in Auckland tonight is anything to go on.

    He avoided cheap shots and intimated the answer to the “Dirty” strategy of putting downward pressure on public participation in politics through a climate of fear and loathing via cynicism and pessimism is the exact opposite–more, and informed, citizen participation.

    Key is running on reserve tanks on this one, the SSC guidelines could lead many a ‘reasonable person’ to conclude John Key might be a most suitable name for a pet snake.

  11. Pablo delegation is just sensible line management. We expect far too much of our leaders when we demand 20/20 foresight of absolutely everything that might happen around anything. It’s corrosive of the separation of powers in our democracy.

    you need to get away from seeing this issue as an intelligence one. It was political pure and simple. The intelligence issue was well and truly in the public domain. The document in question had been appropriately redacted and declassified by sis for public release. It was no longer an ‘Intelligence’ document. As such, it was entirely reasonable for a trusted political staffer to make a political decision. Other ministers’ staffers make similar political decisions every day. This was not an interception warrant.

  12. I get tired of this whole plausible deniability line from government officials, I don’t care what end of the spectrum they come from.

    I grow tired of ministers denying responsibility whenever their ministry fails, then trying to take credit for anything positive. If Ministers aren’t accountable when things go wrong I have to wonder why they attract a Ministerial fee. No oversight, no accountability, just what are they elected for then?

    Given that the National Party is the standard bearer for the private sector and enterprise, I have to wonder why CEO pay is so high if really it’s always someone else lower down the chain who is responsible when shortcomings are uncovered.

  13. It is clear to even the most casual observer that Pablo has no management experience. He thinks that the only reason a manager would delegate is to distance himself from dirty dealings. In fact, even in a relatively small office of 30 people (the size of the PM’s office), the manager cannot be expected to know every single action taken by his staff. It is the manager’s job to set the parameters for action, to establish goals and to track their accomplishment, not to personally supervise each employee. But Pablo cannot be expected to know this, since he has zero experience of managing subordinates… although unsurprisingly this does not prevent him from commenting with a self-appointed air of authority.

  14. Ted: We can blame Reagan for perfecting the plausible deniability tactic. Like so much else he did, it is ruinous to good governance but copied everywhere scoundrels are in power.

    Bazarov: You are either being disingenuous or just plain ignorant. Political management is significantly different than corporate management, and that should be obvious to even someone like you. That is why, among other things, public administration and public policy are not taught in business schools. Issues of accountability, transparency and political sensitivity in democratic governance differ greatly from corporate management practice, so your parallel is bogus. Plus, on politically sensitive issues of intelligence basic competency requires Ministers to make the final call on decisions. This is not an area where you just set parameters and let your staff make the call. It is glaring obvious you have no clue about public service management.

    As for me, you are also wrong. I may not have the corporate management experience that you seem to think is the holy grail, but have in fact occupied roles as a supervisor of staff on more than one occasion, including while in US government service.

  15. In the current system anything that is even likely to cause some stress, upset or embarrassment is always cleared upstairs before it move on and out. The culture in govt is such that this is something that all departments instil in their staff to one degree or another. Even if Key didn’t sign off on it directly he would have been informed what was going on.

    The real issue is not in the detail but as noted above how those at the top do not have to take responsibility for any negative outcome by claiming plausible deniability or through a lower waged scapegoat.

    In NZ it has to be a total uproar before anybody really cares and thats where the problem lies, corruption has crept in because we have allowed smaller and lesser offences to go unchecked and now we are finally starting to see and get gross abuses of power.

    Pablos point about the vertical and horizontal are correct but setting it in academic terms does remove the level of disgust and loathing that is required to make this an issue of note for any length of time.

    Dirty Politics will go away, scandals fade and people get let of the hook. Until someone is actually be sent to jail or properly punished for this kind of behaviour nothing is going to change as the message is clear. “You can get away with it!”

    And thats not a negative or defeatist tone thats the message that is being articulated day after day in the media, courts and elsewhere; name suppression, the afore mentioned toothless parliamentary enquires and reports etc. Asking a cancer to condemn itself is not going to happen. Such things need to be removed by an external agency or option.

    A compliant lethargic citizenry is far more the cause of the rot here than some greedy politicians; Who believes that any PM or minister is not out for themselves or at the least willing to bend the rules to help one of their own. Kiwis have happily voted for these people year after year and time after time yet there is continual surprise among those who watch it all that this is something new.

    I dont Back National in the least but the idea that Labour (or any other party) would not stick their noses in the trough given the laxity in comment from the body politic at lesser abuses seems somewhat distanced from the day to day.

    We spend 30 minutes once every three years doing our part and then get upset when those left unattended behave the way they do.

    Id take the “cynical’ tag if I had not lived in countries where corruption was so gross that it was eating the nation whole yet the populace was outraged enough to go out and try and do something about it and not wait for the system itself to mysteriously correct it.

    Democracy in NZ is more of a casual lifestyle option that an actual living thing and declining voter rates and high level flagrant corruption going unchecked clearly indicate that.

    Dirty Politics might make a good read and cause some headlines but unless its going to lead to those abuses to be not only exposed but also stopped it is just a good read, a safe cathartic read for those who dont really want to see the process change but do want to feel their opinion is justified.

    And before I get labelled with the blood and revolution tag I am not necessarily advocating that or such means. What I am advocating is that unless a populace is willing to actively participate in its society (beyond once every three years) then it has little say in what goes on or who does what in their name.

    The high water mark for that kind of sentiment in this country is the Springbok tour where things were such that it did galvanise a nation and it did produce something beyond hand wringing and complaining. Its achievements were less measurable because it was a situation outside NZ that was the real issue but it stands as a point where people did get up and get out.

    The question is why don’t Kiwis really care now? In part because all of this is existential to so many people in this country. So the PM did something that may be corrupt? That his and his government’s methods are unsound? Surprise, surprise! Unless we are willing to do more than demand change then we cant expect change.

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