So, it turns out that the GCSB were involved in the Dotcom raid - and that they were acting unlawfully in the process. An inquiry has been ordered, and the matter is now before the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. But given that its the Prime Minister's own department, there is also going to be political accountability through Parliament. Here's a few obvious questions the opposition might want to ask tomorrow:
- Did the Prime Minister sign a warrant to intercept Kim Dotcom's domestic communications? The announcement of an inquiry says that the interceptions were conducted "without statutory authority". It is unclear whether that is because it was done without a warrant - making it a crime punishable by two years imprisonment - or whether it was because there was a warrant but it was invalid.
- If there was a warrant, did it state that it would involve the interception of the domestic communications of a New Zealand resident? If so, then that raises a host of questions. As noted above, the GCSB are specifically barred from spying on kiwis. Key should not have signed such a warrant, and the Director of the GCSB should not have offered it.
- If there was a warrant, and it did not state that it would involve the interception of the domestic communications of a New Zealand resident, did the Director of the GCSB mislead the Prime Minister, or did GCSB staff mislead the Director? Its possible the spies lied to the Prime Minister to get their warrant. If so, we need to know at what level it occurred, and whether it is a common practice.
- Will the report of the inquiry be made public? This is vital for public confidence. Serious crimes have apparently been committed. it is vital that the public can see that there has been proper accountability and that proper steps will be taken to prevent them from happening again.
- When the inquiry reports back, will the Prime Minister read the report? Pretty important to get him on the record about this, given his behaviour over John Banks.
Meanwhile, this just adds strength to the argument that spies should not be involved in any way in law enforcement. They simply have the wrong mindset for it, and the existence of these powers encourages the police to try and use them as a way of bypassing the restrictions we apply (with good reason!) to them. Its time we amended the law to ensure that powers are separate, and police and spies do not try and do each other's jobs.