Sunday, January 22, 2006

GSCB dripfeed cancelled

Archives NZ has rescinded permission for the Sunday Star-Times to quote anything further about the Lange Papers. Despite Archives NZ's attempt being described as a try in the first paragraph, the SST has wimped out and not published anything. It's not clear why they chose to do so, as s61 of the Public Records Act 2005 only covers the damage or destruction of the documents while s62 of the same act provides for a fine of up to $10,000. The answer probably lies in the regulations for the archives which don't seem to be up at the legislation website.

What we do get are two columns by Nicky Hager and Terence O'Brien. For all Nicky's alleged knowledge on the topic, he persists in making stuff up far beyond what the evidence says. Firstly he creates a strawman that people claim the Americans "severed intelligence ties" in 1985 when what the Americans actually did and said so at the time was that military ties were severed. Which is only the set-up to this:
The summaries withheld were those prepared by US military forces - which is not surprising since the US military, and especially US Navy, were most annoyed by the nuclear policy and did cut some military ties.
Gee. There isn't a chance that the actual announced policy of severance of military ties might have had something to do with this? And then there's this:
Why, then, did news go around the world of intelligence access being - in the words of defence chief Ewan Jamieson - "terminated"?
I daresay that if we were to go back to the original quote, we would find that Ewan was talking about matters for which he was responsible - namely military matters and not intelligence matters.

Later on, Nicky begings to show signs of desperation in analysing the report:
Most of the Tangimoana radio eavesdropping station's work was monitoring Soviet vessels in the Pacific for the Americans. The station also monitored Argentinian Navy and Egyptian diplomatic communications for Britain.
Most of the work was against Soviet shipping? Then how did we get the Japanese diplomatic traffic which was the most frequently reported target in the GSCB annual report? How does he know that spying on Egyptian diplomatic traffic was done for the British? Who were we spying on the South Africans and the Laotians for then? He continues to plumb new depths in illogic:
The head office intelligence analysts specialised in translating French government communications intercepted by the British and translating Japanese diplomatic cables and communications from friendly South Pacific nations intercepted by the US. A quarter of the radio eavesdropping staff were based at "JTUM" in Melbourne, helping a British/Australian operation against China.
The British have been right next to France for at least a thousand years. Despite this, they outsource their French intelligence work to us? I don't think so. And if a quarter of our staff were based at Melbourne spying on the Chinese then why isn't China mentioned anywhere in the report?

The other column by Terence O'Brien is not on line. He starts of by saying that it raises questions "about the nature of, and the reasons for spying by governments". But it seems not to have occured to him to draw upon his experience as a former NZ diplomat to answer the more interesting question of why we were likely to be spying on some of the targets on the list. Because he does not even begin to do that, his column merely full of words and punctuation, signifying nothing.