Allegations re mass surveillance by NZ’s GCSB

Here are the articles published by Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden about mass surveillance of New Zealand citizens by spy agencies that form part of the FIVE EYES intelligence alliance.

These were released in the lead up to the anyway-you-look-at-it history-making event at Auckland Town Hall last night, ‘The Moment of Truth’ featuring Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, Robert Amsterdam, Kim Dotcom and Laila Harre. That’s viewable on youtube here.

Click to watch a video of the event at youtube

Click to watch a video of the event at youtube

I think it’s always good to read such documents carefully and consider their wording — and also the wording of any denials or contradictions. Take your time.

Click to read at The Intercept or PDF archive below

Click to read at The Intercept or PDF archive below

PDF of the Snowden article (600k)


Click to read at The Intercept or PDF archive below

PDF of the Greenwald article (950k)

I also recommend you read Andrea Vance’s analysis ‘Moment of truth’ – do believe the hype

Click to read at

Click to read at

Regular readers will know my views of suspicionless, non-targetted government surveillance. I oppose it.

I oppose it whichever ‘colour’ of government would seek to carry it out. That’s why with hundreds, thousands of other New Zealanders I marched down Queen Street in protest last year, why I attended public meetings and rallies and argued against it. And I will continue to. (Does that make me a ‘target’ for government surveillance? Dunno. What do you think?)

click to see other photos of the anti GCSB Bill march in Auckland 27 July 2013

click to see other photos of the anti GCSB Bill march in Auckland 27 July 2013

These revelations are deeply disturbing to me, even given the obvious double-talk and head-patting we were given by Mr Key over the expansion of spy agency powers in 2013.

– P

The turnout at July 2013's

The turnout at July 2013’s “Stop the GCSB Bill” protest rally near Auckland’s Aotea Square. Pic: Peter Aranyi. (Click to enlarge.)

O Mary!

U2 has been in the news lately … which reminded me of  Mary J Blige …

You really should watch this interview with Glenn Greenwald, despite the smears

It’s easy to fall for a rapid PR ‘framing’ response, especially from an experienced spin team like Prime Minister John Key’s media machine.

This comment seems a fair description of what happens:

click to read on Twitter

click to read on Twitter

Mr Key has been very quick with the personal attacks lately, hasn’t he?

He has repeatedly described Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald as a ‘henchman’. Does anyone remember Jason Ede, working in Mr Key’s Beehive office, feeding smears, Official Information, unflattering photos, leaked/hacked info from websites etc to attack bloggers Cameron Slater and David Farrar … to destabilise and discredit Mr Key’s political opponents? Now THAT’S a henchman!

Take the time to watch Glenn Greenwald’s interview with Lisa Owen on TV3’s The Nation, as I did this morning …

Click to watch at

Click to watch at

Greenwald has enormous credibility in my eyes. I guess that makes me a screaming conspiracy theorist. :-)

But remember this, from July 2013, around the time of public dissent about the GCSB Bill’s proposed expansion of state security/spy agencies’ power — to (legally) spy on New Zealanders:
With respect, Mr Key, you misjudge me.

But let me say this as clearly as I can: ‘Politically aligned or misinformed’? Actually Mr Key, no, I’m neither of those.
Expressing my misgivings and concerns as a citizen about some of the Government of the Day’s policies and actions doesn’t automatically make me (a) ignorant or (b) a supporter of the National Party’s political rivals.
Not just ‘No’, Mr Key. ‘Hell no!’ (With apologies to Harper Lee.)

John Key plays the man, not the ball. Again

Mr Key seems quick to disparage Rodney Harrison QC by name. That is the prime minister’s MO, as I have observed before. He does that. It’s one of the traits people point to when seeking to compare John Key with Sir Robert Muldoon. Another example: John Key threatens Human Rights Commission funding.

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John Key working the phones “at length”

click to watch/read at

click to watch/read at

I was struck tonight by TV3 Political editor Patrick Gower saying on the news that he’d just got off the phone from a conversation “at length” with National Party leader John Key — Mr Key was, apparently, intent on countering the claims by Glenn Greenwald that the GCSB had undertaken mass surveillance of New Zealanders — something that Mr Key said hasn’t happened, and had earlier said would be a cause for his and GCSB head (and Mr Key’s school friend) Ian Fletcher’s resignations .

That substantial story has some way to run, and we’ll see what documents Glenn Greenwald releases on Monday as part of Kim Dotcom’s ‘Momemt of Truth’ … and how credible Mr Key’s ‘freshly de-classified’ rebuttal evidence will be.

But Patrick Gower’s disclosure of an ‘at length’ phone conversation between the PM and TV3’s political editor reminded me of something Patrick’s  predecessor/Jedi master Duncan Garner disclosed in June on RadioLIVE: that when he was TV3’s political editor John Key rang him almost every night of the election campaign towards the end.

Duncan said it was in the context of the controversy over the Teapot tapes. Listen:

Duncan Garner reveals John Key rang him almost every night of the 2011 election campaign
MP3 file

So, I asked Patrick Gower if he was hearing from John Key in a similar fashion:

click to read on Twitter

click to read on Twitter

And, as you can see, he said no.

I have no reason whatsoever to disbelieve Patrick. (He is, in my opinion, one of the good guys — as contentious as it may be for me to say that. I like him.)

So that’s interesting … eh?

– P

High Court serves a mixed bag for PR attack blogger Cameron Slater

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz. Better for all sorts of reasons.

Here are some relevant excerpts of a High Court judgment* released today on the vexed question of “Can PR attack blogger Cameron Slater hide his clients’ names from someone suing him for defamation by claiming his extensive campaign of PR hits were ‘journalistic’ in nature and heck he is entitled to ‘source protection’?”

Basically, the judge has allowed Cameron Slater and his website to be regarded as ‘news media’ and a ‘journalist’ (Congratulations) but prevented him from claiming ‘source protection’ in the defamation case he’s facing.

Slater must comply with discovery in the normal way and answer interrogatories, because Judge Asher rulled  it is in the interests of justice that his ‘sources’ be disclosed.

I don’t know if Justice Asher reads my blog (unlike Nicky Hager, who I know does) but see also [149](c) (and [138]) in the judgment which back up my comment in ‘Part of the news media? or a “PR blog” dedicated to “destroying” reputations?‘:

Whatever Cameron Slater says, my own observation of the campaign leads me to see it as the outworking of a vendetta — I don’t know whose. At question is: Was its motivation personal or was it ‘professional’?

It’s interesting how problematic Cameron Slater’s attempt to find refuge in ‘journalism’ is proving.

142-148_Slater_v_Blomfield Continue reading →

Media as power tools. Whether to expose the collusion, or not?

I closed my post last night ‘Returning to the scene of the crime (or How I fell for Jason Ede’s spin)‘ with these words…

“There’s a conversation to be had about how journalists use and get used by ‘sources’ like Cameron Slater and David Farrar. It’s a discussion that’s been around for a while but most recently given impetus by Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics … it needs to carry on.
We need to talk about it.”

Click to read at

Click to read at

So it was fascinating to read this on today:

Hager ‘avoids shaming’ journalists

by Oliver Dunn
Investigative writer Nicky Hager said he kept some journalists out of the dirt in his latest book Dirty Politics in hope of a cleaner future.
In a small Wintec lecture theatre, Hager let student journalists pick his brain about investigative journalism and his book.
During the intimate Q and A, Hager talked about the Kiwi journalists named in his book.
“If you see a name of a journalist in the book, they are the ones I don’t think have done anything wrong, they’re just incidental to the story. Every journalist who had been taking stories in dodgy ways from David Farrar, one of the bloggers, or Cameron Slater or from the prime minister’s office, I actually left their names out. I decided not to do the journalists basically.”
All apart from Rachel Glucina, who Hager described as “despicable”.
Although Hager highlighted the problem of media being played by Slater and others, he also said he understood the demands of the industry.
“I think that a whole lot of people had done things which were dodgy and wrong. In other words they knew that the prime minister’s office was feeding them information and you could get really easy stories.
“You were being used but it was giving you another headline in a job which is very busy and competitive, where people want to get stuff, so there’s a ton of horrible temptation to keep being an outlet for Cameron Slater and people.
“The people I’m talking about are in the press gallery, senior journalists. Basically I didn’t want to humiliate them, I wanted to give them room to think again and do it differently. That was the reason. Because we’re a small country and there are only going to be the same senior journalists the year after and the year after that, so let them change their minds on it.” …

Hager is right about the temptations of working in the intensely competitive environment of the press gallery and political reporting generally. The pressure on reporters to get a ‘scoop’ or an ‘angle’ can be astonishing. It can and does lead to misjudgements when dealing with politicians and their flacks cynically ‘feeding the chooks’ — to cite Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s adage, referred to* in my post ‘In the service of the 9th floor[Sorry, fixed dud hyperlink] about another recent example of OIA glove-puppetmastery/manipulation of the press gallery e.g. “the extraordinary alacrity with which the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) fulfilled recent Official Information Act (OIA) requests for dirt on Aaron Gilmore”.

Certainly, in this case it seems clear that Mr Gilmore is being ‘thrown under a bus’ or ‘hung out to dry’ or [insert crucification/execution metaphor of your choice here] by his former colleagues. An OIA request fulfilled with such speed is a rarity. The last one I can recall was when the then boss of the SIS Warren Tucker apparenty wanted to land a punch on then Opposition leader Phil Goff and fast-tracked an OIA response to a request by right wing lapblogger, activist and National Party mouthpiece Cameron Slater. (see: SIS boss’s slow resignation letter + Slater says enuf!)
The newshounds of the poltiical press, by skirting around their information sources for the Gilmore skeletons (i.e. not telling us it was the Prime Minister’s Office or the National Party whips ‘feeding the chooks’) risk being seen as little better than, in effect, the same pliant political tools as Whaleoil and his fellow propagandist David Farrar.
I’d love to see some reporting of the double-dealing and poltiical discpline being brought to bear on the errant list MP by his ‘boss’ John Key, and how it’s being managed. Has there been such reporting? Point me to it, if you see it, please.

I respect Nicky Hager and I respect the reasoning he’s offered for avoiding “shaming” “senior journalists in the press gallery” by not disclosing their dubious dealings with the deceitful Cameron Slater and David Farrar. That’s his call.

The risk is that by not exposing it, the cosy collusion will continue. And that seems like a high price for a democracy to pay … unless we truly do buy the line that this is ‘politics as normal’.

What do you think?

This is also true of former Press Gallery journos ... (cough)

This is also true of former Press Gallery journos … (cough)

– P

* And here: Media bias: In the eye of the beholder

Returning to the scene of the crime (or How I fell for Jason Ede’s spin)

crime sceneAs I ‘confessed’ in my reaction to Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics, I fell for the deceptive spin on the extraordinarily rapid ‘service’ National Party attack blogger Cameron Slater was given on his 2011 OIA request for SIS briefing notes.

The Prime Minister’s office’s role in this ‘hit’ on then Labour leader Phil Goff is revealed in Dirty Politics … and is now the subject of an investigation by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

I apologised via this blog post to Martyn Bradbury (and, actually in person to a somewhat startled-looking Bradbury at Nicky Hager’s public meeting a few days later on 27 August) for rubbishing his conspiracy theory about the politicisation of the SIS:

As it turns out, it now looks like that was a Prime Minister’s office black-op ‘hit’ on Goff, using Cameron Slater.
So I fumbled that, and didn’t get close enough to the heart of what was [allegedly] really going on. Also, I scorned the often febrile blogger Martyn Bradbury for his ‘hallucinations’ and ‘vitriol’ about the SIS-OIA matter. I owe Martyn Bradbury an apology for that. This is it: Sorry Martyn. It looks like you were right about this and I got it wrong.

Honestly, it seemed too far fetched to me at the time. How naive of me.

So … how could I be so dumb?

Thinking about it, that was back in the days when I would meet Cameron Slater now and then for a coffee and a catch-up. Unlike some, I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of that contact, nor worried in the slightest if my e-mails or messages back & forth with him are ever published. I’m serious.

I didn’t go ‘undercover’ or pretend to be a different person holding different views. I was/am open about where and when I disagree with people, even friends. Sometimes that leads to tension, even broken relationships, but I figure it’s better to be honest.

As I explained to Cameron Slater’s wife when she (irrationally) tried to give me a hard time in the whale oil blog comments after one of those meetings in October 2011:

Hi Juana,
I perfectly understand why you might be offended by some of my public criticisms of Cam’s activism, his campaigns and vendettas. Sorry, he’s a big boy, and he plays the blogging game pretty hard and personal himself.
I hope I don’t get him in trouble, but our meeting yesterday was the third or fourth we’ve had since August when he approached me “for a catch up sometime for a bit of advice”. See:
Cam is one of the best networkers I know. He’s also, as I said somewhere obscure, someone who *engages* — which is the way forward, IMO. We have some history he and I, a mutual ‘enemy’ … and I like to think, we share a mutual respect.
You allege, among other things, that I am being somehow dishonest or two-faced with him. That’s not the case. I am profoundly critical of some of Cam’s actions, statements, targets and tactics — and I am completely open with him about that. It doesn’t mean we don’t get on. It doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other.
Cheers, Peter

Palmers Garden Centre

Palmers, Pakuranga

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what led me to buy the spin that ‘a sharply focussed OIA request for documents already on the SIS director’s desk’ explained the amazingly fast response Cameron Slater got to his OIA request, while others (real journalists like NewsTalkZB’s Felix Marwick who is still chasing the story) were brushed off.

Because, I not only bought it — I’m not trying to wriggle out of that — I folded it into my ‘SIS director Warren Tucker is mighty pissed off with Phil Goff’ theory … recounted in this post on 7 August 2011: SIS boss’s slow resignation letter + Slater says enuf!
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Cameron Slater’s extraordinary attempt to gag the news media [FAIL]


WO whaledump order p1

Click to read today’s order (PDF 200KB)

PR attack blogger Cameron Slater has failed in his bid to stop the news media reporting material from his email and Facebook accounts.

He has, however, succeeded (perhaps) in silencing ‘Rawshark’ — the hacker who so clinically distributed evidence to support the allegations and narrative of Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics.

Cameron Slater, the book alleges, was immersed in dirty dealings and cold-blooded political smear campaigns against National Party and opposition party figures, as well as carrying out commercial ‘PR hits’ for lobbyist Carrick Graham and ‘political strategist’ Simon Lusk.

The fact that Rawshark had — almost as a hand from the grave —  already passed his/her remaining ‘whaledumps’ on to genuine news media organisations (see below) — whose journalists remain unrestrained by the desperate PR attack blogger’s injunction application — greatly reduces the potency of today’s High Court action.

It was, in effect, little more than an expensive (QC-sized) fizzer.

Rawshark/Whaeldump riding off into the sunset.

Rawshark/Whaeldump rides off into the sunset, his work among us done.

In my opinion it’s a sensible and wise strategy for a leaker/whistleblower to feed information (however obtained) through ‘establishment’ media — just as Edward Snowden did, carefully selecting the media ‘outlets’, and as Wikileaks did initially via The Guardian , The New York Times and Der Spiegel.

This has the effect of ‘laundering’ the information through the news media’s (imperfect) ‘public interest’ filter.

In my experience, only the most callow and yellow journalists report prurient or needlessly private details. Rags like NZ Truth and other ‘reprobates and pond scum’ (™ Mike Hosking)

Cameron Slater and ‘mental distress’

I’ve been relatively circumspect about this issue. I’ll tell you why:  I don’t want to be part of a ‘pile-on’ effort that pushes Cameron Slater over the edge.
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The escape of exnzpat, Part 24

Travelers in the String World

Taking control of the Eidolon’s body, the Magus climbed from the bed and, ignoring the golem, stepped into the snow.  It was cold.  Treacherously cold, and she immediately insulated the Eidolon’s feet from danger and warmed her body.  “Snow?  How could it be snowing?” the Magus thought, looking through the eyes of Lester’s Eidolon.

How could this be?  The string of the dragon could not possibly lead here.  They should be in the Shadow Lands.  What was this place?  Where were they? Continue reading →

Matthew Hooton’s assertions re the Prime Minister’s Office

hooton‘Explosive’ is one of those words that gets kicked around in politics and political reporting to the point where it’s almost lost its meaning.

But it’s not an exaggeration to describe right wing spin doctor and self-declared National Party loyalist Matthew Hooton‘s performance on RadioLIVE this morning as incendiary. He effectively called Prime Minister John Key ‘dishonest’, said the PM’s office and chief of staff Wayne Eagleson is implicated in the Dirty Tricks scandal (viz. the SIS-Goff-OIA affair) and more, described Jason Ede’s black-ops brigade as ‘acting under orders’.

And in a fiery exchange, he described former National Party President (and present-day apologist) Michelle Boag as ‘a hack’ with ‘no political views’ who is ‘all about is defending a government that has behaved in ways that [are] literally indefensible and you know it’ …

Listen for yourself.

UPDATE: The ‘fiery exchange’ has now been highlighted as a RadioLIVE editor’s audio pick here.

Available on demand at dial up Sunday 10am.*

Click to listen at Radio LIVE

Click to listen at Radio LIVE (archived below)

* I’ve archived it here too (audio player below) because RadioLIVE only keeps 7 days audio available and I’ve noticed sometimes Mediaworks launders its talkback station’s audio feed when things get … contentious.
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Sean Plunket comes around on the Watergate comparison (‘Dirty Politics’)

Sean Plunket-logoHere’s RadioLIVE talkback host Sean Plunket from this morning — thinking his way through the prickly situation revealed in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics … and finding the comparison to Watergate and the dirty tricks orchestrated from Richard Nixon’s office is actually apt.

Sean Plunket acknowledges the need for a high level inquiry into the matters raised in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics.
MP3 file

“The book has been a catalyst …the parallel in terms of a sanctioned dirty tricks brigade is there…”

Sean Plunket admits it’s taken him a while to see the implications of Dirty Politics.
MP3 file

Nicky Hager’s public meeting in Auckland last night

Hager panorama DSC09471-1703w

Author of ‘Dirty Politics’ Nicky Hager addresses a full-to-overflowing Mt Eden War Memorial Hall 27/8/14.
(click to enlarge) Pic: Peter Aranyi

Nicky Hager was in Auckland last night, at a public meeting called to give people the opportunity to hear from — and question — the author of Dirty Poltiics, book the author said is about ethics.

Quite a good turnout (about 350-400) but I was surprised at the absence of MPs (did anyone notice a single MP?) in contrast to the anti-GCSB Bill public meeting last year.

I understand video coverage of the meeting was live-streamed, so eventually there’ll be an archived video of it online. Let me know if you spot it and I’ll link to it here. (UPDATE: see below) I took some notes which I’ll add to this post later.

Hager public meeting flyerSir Ted Thomas was excellent and spoke very warmly about Nicky Hager, then offered his analysis (as a retired judge) of the ‘public interest’ justifications for the invasions of privacy which reporting the content gained from the leaked emails, messages etc entailed.

Nicky Hager explained the considerations he took to remove private, non-relevent items from the material, and how he weighed those issues. He described leaking as a ‘safety valve’.

Hager’s talk was earnest and very reasonable in tone, i.e. not rabble-rousing. Just as he does in his book, he encouraged his audience to participate in politics — which he said is NOT the same as dirty politics

Participate in politics. Otherwise we leave the field to the nastiest and most unscrupulous.
Politics is the sum of the actions of everyone involved.
Help build up the news media. Those of you who are bloggers, don’t imitate the attack blogs.
Understand the politics we’re fighting and participate — participation is the antidote.

More to come.

UPDATE: Here you go … via Vincent Eastwood

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Read it and weep. Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’


Nicky Hager‘s important new book Dirty Politics – How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment is out (and quickly ‘sold out’ in some places).

The information in Nicky Hager’s book exposes — and for some of us, confirms — our worst fears about the grubby activities being undertaken by nasty, dishonest people to manipulate politics in this country.

Honestly, it is disgusting to read what they’ve been doing, and how they talk about it among themselves. That’s strong language, I know, but read the book and consider these matters for yourself. Hager has made the Preface of his book available here at

I’ve just finished carefully reading it. Work obligations aside, I’d decided I wouldn’t comment on the book here at until I had read it all (including the detailed endnotes) partly to avoid fulfilling this:


Besides frequent feelings of disgust and outrage about how dishonest, devious, cynical and downright nasty some of the players in this dirty game have been, I have come away from reading Dirty Politics feeling glad that I’ve opposed them and been a thorn in their side — even if in only a small way.

Regular or occasional readers of The Paepae will know that for years I’ve tried to shine a light on some of the dark arts operators exposed in Hager’s book. I’ve criticised their actions, their deceit, their twisted ‘logic’, ‘morality’ and double standards. I’ve highlighted their abusive, fixated, relentless bullying and smears. And, as it turns out, I had fingered their hidden commercial PR, political propaganda activities and agenda.

Balack-ops-300wA number of the characters exposed in Hager’s book have been the subject of scrutiny here …

… as I’ve discussed their propagandising and smear campaigns.
Looking back, I knew they were ‘dirty’ and I’m bloody glad I repeatedly hassled them for their deceit and manipulation.

Jason Ede, cast in the book as the PM’s ‘black ops’ staffer, almost doesn’t feature at all here on The Paepae. Just one mention: Deceitful “PR blog” questions worth considering. That says a lot about the spin doctor’s determination to keep his actions on behalf of his masters hidden, below the radar. (Well, until now.)
Wayne Eagleson, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, features only on the periphery. I mentioned him around media management (vomit) at the ill-fated Urban cafe ‘cup of tea’ stunt with John Banks, and in relation to spying on Fairfax’s Andrea Vance around the Kitteridge report leak. I’ve always liked Wayne, since he was Rob Eady’s offsider in Jim Bolger’s office.
Sarah Boyle doesn’t appear here. Maybe she should. Continue reading →

Nice ‘Fancy’ spoof — ‘Ponsonby’

from 2014 Auckland Law Revue featuring Miriam Moore.

Robin Williams RIP



What can one say about Robin Williams that hasn’t been said in the last 24 hours?

I loved him, what I knew of him from his work.

His brittle, manic side seemed always near the surface — but so too, even nearer and unmistakable, was his sensitive, heart-warming, generous, warm and encouraging side.

Robin Williams inspired me.
Farewell. Rest in peace.

– P