“The IGIS’ annual report only confirms that the spy agencies can’t be trusted,” said Anna Thorby from Stop the Spies. “This report is effectively the state admitting what we already know: GCSB surveillance information is targeted by partner agencies, communications from New Zealand are intercepted, and ‘accidental’ interception of NZ communications by a partner agency does occur.
“The report particularly highlights failures of the SIS, this is not new. The SIS has a long history of breaking the law and surveilling anyone who dares to try and rock the boat.
“In this report the SIS is revealed to be badly managed with an inability to do one of its core activities, security clearances, in a well organised and fair way. The SIS also failed to follow the law when using its new visual surveillance powers, and even kept this failure secret from the Minister who was meant to be providing oversight.
“The IGIS’ annual report is meant to alleviate our concerns about the intelligence world, but in effect it confirms that the intelligence community operates in a world unto itself,” said Thorby.
“Despite consistent reviews over previous years stating that the intelligence agencies need to learn to follow policy and procedures and work within the law, the IGIS report highlights that nothing has changed: the agencies have difficulties following rules and regulations.
“The strengthening of the role of the IGIS was a ploy by the National government to deflect public outrage from the revelations of wide-spread surveillance by the intelligence agencies and NZ’s role in the Five-Eyes. But like the on-going Intelligence Review headed by former deputy-PM Michael Cullen and lawyer Patsy Reddy, it is all part of a PR exercise to ensure public faith in these agencies. This is confirmed in the recently published ‘top-secret’ in-coming Ministers brief:’…critically, we need to build public trust and confidence in the intelligence community.’
“Stop the Spies has adopted a no compromise position that these agencies should be disestablished. For us, these agencies are political police and the official revelations in the IGIS’s report only make that more stark. Moreover, these agencies are anti-democratic. They determine threats based on a set of assumptions about the legitimacy of the current system. The fact that a sitting member of parliament was a continued target of SIS surveillance shows just exactly how that set of assumptions plays out. Because when the state invokes ‘national security’ or ‘NZ security’ what it really means is the security of those who have power to maintain that power. It is a deeply political term – there is no politically neutral ‘national security’ – and under the current economic and political paradigm in this country, the continuation of security for some is at the expense of security for others.”
The Stop the Spies coalition calls for the closure of the GCSB, the closure of the SIS, and for New Zealand to get out of the 5 eyes.