Joe Hendren

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Monday, November 22, 2004

More on SIS spying on the Maori Party

Over the weekend the Sunday Star Times printed further revelations about possible SIS monitoring of the Maori party, this time backed up by three former employees of our security services. One quit 'Operation Leaf' because he was disgusted at the surveillance of "decent, law-abiding , New Zealanders"

Spies Blow Whistle on SIS Bugging
Whistle Blown on Operation Leaf
We Could See it was for Dirt Collection

In response Clark said "I can say categorically that at no time in the past 5 years I have been the Minister in Charge of the SIS and Prime Minister have I ever been advised about anything happening in any other political party." (Press, 22/11/04) But note that Clark's denial does not say anything about her being advised about anything happening within the Labour party, such as during the period earlier this year when Turia was considering resignation. Turia says her phone was bugged during this time.

After consulting Parliamentary Services over the issue Turia asked a private security firm to investigate. The security firm had said at the time it was "unlikely" to be the SIS "because they would have far more sophisticated means of tracking a person's conversations, basically that they could have an arrangement with the telephone company to do that if it was serious".

Of course in order to do proper bugging the SIS would have required a warrant, and it is possible that the bugging occurred without one. So perhaps someone economised in more ways than one.

When the allegations first arose on Scoop, Turia said she accepted the word of Richard Woods , the SIS director, that the SIS did not spy on the Maori party. Thankfully, Turia is now calling for an inquiry.

As I pointed out in my post on the 13th of November, security services have previously got around prohibitions restricting their ability to spy on citizens of their own country by getting their mates in other Western security services to do it, so I was interested in reading that NZ SIS co-operated with Canadian security services during surveillance of a Maori academic based in Canada. There is a great advantage in such methods - deniability!
'SIS Employee/Spy': "Even before Leaf there had been other Maori related surveillance, I think the files and profiles of people from years ago, the progress they made, the overseas contacts etc all morphed into Op Leaf, I once heard a colleague mention a liaison with csis in Canada about some Maori academic there involved in stirring up shit with the natives of Canada, that was years before Leaf, so you can see that this is something the govt has always had a handle on."
Even if the claims are not true, I am afraid I do not find the offical reassurances reassuring. There are far too many holes in the explanations offered so far. Once again the case highlights the lack of real democratic oversight of security operations in New Zealand. And thats not even mentioning the foreign spybases such as Waihopai that transmit communications straight back to the NSA without any New Zealand oversight of the information (the infamous keyword system)....

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