In the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attacks, Simon Bridges wants to expand the powers available to the NZ security community when it comes to search and surveillance. He apparently believes that resurrecting “Project Speargun,” a 5 Eyes/GCSB 2013 effort to place a meta-data mining probe into the Southern Cross fiber optical cable connecting NZ to the world (via LA), would have prevented the attacks. He seems to not realize that Project Speargun was not fully abandoned but superseded by newer technologies, and that it would not have prevented the domestic terrorism attack in any event because it was foreign focused and used algorithms to reflect the concerns of NZ’s 5 Eyes partners (which were not focused on violent white supremacism).
He seems to think that the cyber-security program Cortex (designed to protect NZ firms and government agencies from hacking attacks) was somehow linked to Project Speargun (as some sort of inner-outer perimeter system). Yet the two are completely separate projects. As Leader of the Opposition Mr. Bridges sits on the Intelligence and Security Committee and gets regular briefs from the SIS and GCSB Directors, so the confusion and attempt to resurrect Project Speargun reflects a fundamental disconnect.
It also seems odd that a leader of a center-right party founded in part on classic liberal principles in defense of the right to privacy and the primacy of civil liberties would decide that there is political mileage to be gained by calling for more intrusive State powers at the expense of individual rights. Cynical opportunism, perhaps?
I was interviewed by RNZ about his comments. My observations are here.
After doing the interview and listening to Mr. Bridges remarks once again, it seems to me that he is a special piece of work. So I decided that the best thing I could do was honor him with a tweet from the consulting firm (which among other things does political leadership analysis). Here it is:
“When it comes to Simon Bridges calling for enhanced powers for NZ spy agencies, he is like a guy who says that he needs a telescope because his binoculars don’t work well enough, only to find out that the lens caps are still on the binoculars.”
Thank you. I have had a few rough days. Your post brought a smile, and slight snigger to my face.
He really is the “fall guy” in any comedy act.
It’s true that the existing legal regime was sufficient to stop the Christchurch shooter. The only real problem is the police and intelligence agencies incompetence.
In another case of people who should know better being shown to be completely wrong do you have any comment about this article?
Yes the report was underwhelming and therefore a disappointment to people like me. But it will not be to the rightwing media which did as much to whitewash all the indictments and convictions that resulted from the investigation as did the liberal media with regard to seeing treason at every step of the way. But for the moment Drumpf and his minions won, and won pretty big at that. It looks like Bob Barr was chosen correctly. Time for me to cry in my beer.
It remains to be seen if there are state level prosecutions or legal follow ups stemming from the investigation once or if the full report is published. It is hard for me to believe that this is the absolute end of the story, but then again I have been wrong before.
Indeed, the problem wasn’t too much or too little intel powers, but the intel powers looking up all the wrong alleys. It’s a bit like cops focusing on weed users while ignoring the burglars.