Is anyone actually surprised to hear (via Snowden, Greenwald, Dotcom et al) that NZ has its metadata spied on by the USA? I’m certainly not. The US relishes it’s position as a superpower, and it didn’t get to be a superpower by handing out cupcakes. It knows what is happening in the world because it listens carefully to what is happening on the airwaves. It spies on its own citizens to detect domestic terrorism, it spies on its allies (Angela Merkel found her phone bugged by the USA – it won’t be the only one), it certainly spies on the Russians and the Chinese, it spies on the English, and with a dodgy little two-bit country like ours, that is not as pro-Uncle Sam as it could be, it certainly spies on us.
So do other countries. The Chinese spy on us. The Russians spy on us. the Israelies spy on us. The French spy on us. The British spy on us. Probably even the Aussies spy on us. It’s all just standard governmental practice, played amongst the big boys. A more interesting question might be: who do we spy upon? No one? Don’t be naive. Someone? Yes, but who? The Ozzies? The Brits? The Yanks? Yes, we probably have some low level spying ability in all those countries, and they all know that we do. It’s more interesting to speculate whether we have spies amongst the “enemy” nations of China and Russia. Or any of the mad houses of the Middle East.
The real question here, that Key is fervently denying, is whether we spy on us. Key clearly believes the answer is no. DotCom clearly believes the answer is yes. Snowden, the only person in the world to publicly speak on this, clearly knows that we do. There is a fascinating interview with Snowden in a recent Wired magazine, which goes right into the man and his background. He’s no dummy. He has had access to all the highest levels of spydom, and seen things we will never see. The US are after him because he dared to speak the truth. They never said he was lying – they know he speaks the truth. Therefore, if he says that we spy on ourselves, then there is no reason not to believe him.
So what to make of JohnKey? Still vehemently denying that the fairly obvious happens…. To my mind, there are two valid scenarios. One: that John Key knows we are being spied on, and is lying about us not being spied on. But why should he tell the truth to TV 3 et al? It’s not like it is a formal inquiry, where he is under oath (it was only under the oath in a formal inquiry that the truth came out in the US, after all). It’s standard practice for Governments to deny that certain things relating to National Security are / are not happening. whether we like it or not, as our Leader, John Key is paid to lie to us on a regular basis, something he does quite well, as evidently some people will believe him, and he is likely to be re-elected next week. all those times when he says “Ackshirly, I’m not really worried about that” or “I have no recollection of that conversation” or my favourite “I just spoke about afternoon tea with John Banks” – yes, the chances are quite strong that each and every time, he was lying. And I’d fully expect him to do that – it’s his job. And if Cunliffe was elected, he’d have to do the same.
The other scenario is more interesting, and is therefore: John Key does not know we are being spied upon, and therefore fully believes that we are not being spied upon by us. That could explain the “honest John” image he tries to portray. If we are to believe Sir Humphrey at all, or House of Cards, then we can understand that Ministers get lied to by their Ministries on a regular basis. Would you honestly believe that the GCSB would get all the way down the “how to spy on the Kiwi population” road, and then abandon it? If they had already done their homework, and found out how, and found a reason why, then why would they decide to abandon it, just because some here today, gone tomorrow prime minister decided to have cold feet? And again, they can deny it, they can lie to us – heck, they don’t even ever have to talk to us!
So then the question becomes: why would they spy on us? They’re welcome to read my emails, I don’t care – if they wanted to, they could find out the IP address of Maximus, but again, they have no reason to state that publicly. Their evidence of spying on us seemed quite obvious from the Urewera raids in 2002? when seemingly “evidence” of terrorist activity was uncovered. Yes, Police intelligence was also used, but there is no reason to think that only one agency was involved. In a similar manner, I’d be annoyed if they weren’t actively sniffing channels for evidence of the moronically fanatical Islamic State aficionados that are undoubtedly in our midst. We know there has already been one, and that he has been killed – there is only one thing certain, and that is that there will be more. And personally, that’s why I’m quite happy for the spy agencies to trawl endlessly through our emails and phone calls. If they can sniff out and snuff out those IS sympathisers in our midst, then it’s worth every cent.