Saturday, January 21, 2006

Paul Buchanan analyses the GSCB report

In this week's listener, Paul Buchanan has a (not online) one page analysis of what the GCSB report reveals. However a promising byline "reveals more secrets than first realized" turns out to be a false advertising as the bulk of the article is bereft of insight. For example, he writes:
[T]hat 20 years ago [...] New Zealand had the ability to selectively designate eavesdropping from very remote targets - witness Egypt being one of New Zealand's spying targets
He fails to realize that we were monitoring Egyptian diplomatic traffic meaning that transmissions from an Egyptian Embassy are most likely being described. And where is the nearest Egyptian Embassy? Remote Canberra. I was more impressed that we could monitor South African military communications. He then states:
The entities targeted by New Zealand mentioned in the Lange papers - Japan, France, the Phillipines, Pacific Island States, Vietnam, the UN, the USSR, South Africa, Laos and Argentine Naval Intelligence - reflect US and UK strategic concerns in 1986 rather than those of the Lange government
What was the strategic concern that required us to spy on Laos? Why the US and UK so concerned about Vietnam but not Cambodia? If we could spy on Japan then why not China? It's clear that he doens't have a good idea of what might have been going on in 1986 to make reasonable guesses as to why were we spying on some of the odder targets. And lastly, he writes:
"But it's noteworthy that the larger intelligence patrons had New Zealand monitoring [...] French electronic transmissions, presumably because they did not want to risk the diplomatic fallout of direct spying on supposed allies or friends."
If he had actually read the Sunday Star Times report then he would have found out that we relied "heavily on [British] GCHQ acquisition and forwarding of French Pacific Satellite Intercepts". Now if the GCHQ are giving us French transmissions then it follows that they are not at all concerned that about being caught spying on them!