Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Russel Norman knocks Key for six

Who pays the GCSB?

The PM John Key is running scared: His shaky platform has been exploded and exposed by a frontal attack by the political opponent Key fears most.

Key has insulted him in and outside the house, suggested that he return to his native Australia, called him communist, a mad greenie, and lover of all things left. He even suggested in a tantrum that this person would flee to the hills if confronted by a terrorist.

The person that led to the shiver that now runs up Key’s spine…is of course Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman. And he has got Key in panic mode. 

This dynamic leader of the ever growing Green Party tossed a question at the Prime Minister during question time on Tuesday. The question was so powerful and so powerfully expressed that Key was reduced to a stuttering Muppet whose strings had become entangled by the puppeteer who was manipulating Keys limbs.

His question in the House yesterday asking if the NSA subsidize the GCSB as they do in Britain with the GCHQ was met by a stony ‘neither deny nor confirm’ from the Prime Minister.

Because the question was asked in the house the PM couldn’t make a quick call overseas to seek permission to answer the question honestly. He had to buy time, time to get directions, not unlike a motorist lost in a strange city and not knowing in which direction to turn. Let’s follow the question and Keys muddling answers:

Dr Russel Norman: Does the GCSB receive funding directly or indirectly from the Government of the United States?

After a distinct hesitation:

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is not in my interest or the national interest for me to answer that question. I do not think any Minister responsible for the GCSB would do so.

Labour’s Trevor Mallard noticed the hesitation and reacted:

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order Mr Speaker. There is a long-term tradition in this House that a member’s interests—and the Prime Minister has said it is not in his interests to answer the question. He can say it is not in the national interest, but we know it is not in his interests already.

The Speaker then attempted to protect his leader, as he always does:

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister, I think, stumbled over the first words as he started that answer. He said that it is not in the country’s interest for him to continue to answer that question, and that is a perfectly satisfactory answer.

Russel Norman now on the front foot continued;

Dr Russel Norman: Does that mean that the Prime Minister will not deny that the GCSB has received funding from the Government of the United States?

After a clear hesitation;  

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. It means that it is not in the national interest for me to discuss those matters.

Russel Norman now fires a lethal round:

Dr Russel Norman: Does the Prime Minister believe it is right or, indeed, lawful for the GCSB to receive funding from a foreign Government without informing this Parliament?

Key now attempts to move the question off course:

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, the member should be very careful about jumping to any conclusions. It is not in the national interest for me to discuss those kinds of matters. But what is really interesting is that 24 hours before we finally pass the GCSB legislation, that member does not even have a question on the matter.

Russel Norman moves in for the kill:

Dr Russel Norman: Does the Prime Minister believe in the basic principles of parliamentary responsibility for the Government’s finances—that is, Parliament must know when the Government receives funding—if so, how can an agency like the GCSB receive money from a foreign Government without Parliament knowing?

The PM is saved by the bell…and retreats while he seeks support from overseas;

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not saying it is or it is not.

This from the Daily Blog:

Russel Norman’s increasing confidence in Parliament yesterday wasn’t the caffeine sugar high of the latest Roy Morgan Poll showing a large drop for National and a large jump for Labour and the Greens, it was the slow burn of a politician who is now reaching his zenith as a Alpha political predator. His question in the House yesterday asking if the NSA subsidize the GCSB as they do in Britain with the GCHQ was met by a stony ‘neither deny nor confirm’ from the Prime Minister.
That means that the NSA probably does subsidize the GCSB.
I think we are seeing a new kind of control system being exported by the United States. Propping up a dictator with paramilitary death squads is very 1970s and damages the tourism brand, so a new product is being tested out. This model sees America equip and empower domestic intelligence agencies and directly influence how that agency operates and what it targets.
The fear generated by the War on Terror has given every intelligence agency the justifications they need to grow.
Over the last decade, funding for the SIS increased by 250% to $41 million in 2012. It now employs 232 full time staff. Over the same period of time, the GCSB increased its funding by 174% to $63m in 2012, and now has 294 staff.
And what about the intelligence agencies you’ve probably never even heard of?
The Organised Crime Intelligence Unit, Financial Intelligence Unit, Strategic Intelligence Unit, National Bureau of Criminal Intelligence, Identity Intelligence Unit, Threat Assessment Unit, Police Terrorism Investigation and Intelligence Group and the Special Investigation Group. They’ve all been given vast new surveillance powers despite very few prosecutions in NZ for any of the things these agencies are supposed to guard against.
We have seen a mass ramping up of agencies that can spy on their citizens so when Russel Norman asks if the NSA is subsidizing the GCSB to spy upon it’s own population, Key’s neither confirm nor deny answer simply isn’t good enough.
Who do our intelligence agencies work for? Wellington or Washington?

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