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Intelligence Alliance Binds NZ To US War Machine

Covert Intelligence Alliance Binds NZ To US War Machine

By Murray Horton

Let's give credit where credit's due. It was commendable that Warren Tucker, the Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) made its first ever public statement (January 31). News coverage of his unprecedented article focused on him being "personable, friendly and outgoing". But, with the greatest of respect, it is not about the GCSB Director, no matter how admirable his qualities.

His defence of the Bureau was robust but extremely short on details. A number of points require comment. He mentioned the 2003 GCSB Act. The Bureau was created in 1977, apparently by Executive fiat. From 1977 until 2003, it was literally an outlaw agency. The 2003 Act was only passed to rectify the increasingly contradictory position in which it found itself in relation to several other Acts.

He states that the GCSB only spies on foreigners, not on New Zealanders. This sounds fine in theory. But more than once the Anti-Bases Campaign has written to it, and Ministers, to ask what happens if one party to an international communication intercepted by the GCSB is a New Zealander. We have always been met with a refusal to answer the question.

Dr Tucker makes the sweeping claim that NZ's membership of the top secret UKUSA Agreement (between the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ, to divide up the world for the purposes of electronic and signals intelligence-gathering) gives us access to the inner sanctum of power in the US and Britain. Leaving aside the fact that we pay Ministers and diplomats to gain that sort of access, not spies, his claim identifies the problem exactly.

The GCSB's being part of a global network of intelligence agencies and spybases - Waihopai and Tangimoana, in NZ's case - ties this country right into the axis of warmongers whose nuclear ships and ANZUS Treaty we got rid of 20 years ago, and who constitute the main threat to world peace by their practice of illegally invading and occupying other peoples' countries. Dr Tucker has hit the nail on the head, except that he thinks this covert intelligence alliance with Bush, Blair and Howard is a good thing. An awful lot of his fellow New Zealanders think the exact opposite.

Dr Tucker's argument can be boiled down to "trust us, what we're doing is in the national interest, but we can't tell you anything about what it is that we actually do". Secrecy is so very convenient. His article was necessitated by the outrage generated by the inadvertent release of the GCSB's 1985/86 Annual Report among the papers of the late David Lange.

That listed just who it was that the Bureau was spying on 20 years ago - the list included any number of friendly countries, including Pacific neighbours. Most damningly, it also included the United Nations. Why would New Zealand be spying on the UN? How could that be in our national interest?

As was revealed in the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US National Security Agency (NSA, the Big Daddy of all the GCSB's Big Brothers) systematically spied on the UN. So, the answer is that spying on the UN is in America's interests, and that the very junior NZ spy agency in the covert alliance is simply doing what it is told. Nothing has changed in 20 years, the UN is still a prime target for US intelligence and, doubtless, little old New Zealand is still doing its bit.

Dr Tucker's claim that the GCSB doesn't spy on Kiwis can be taken with a grain of salt too. Let's just look at who its bigger partners in the UKUSA Agreement have been exposed as spying on. In Australia, the Defence Signals Directorate admitted that it intercepted communications between Australian unions and the captain of the "Tampa", when that ship carrying rescued boat people was denied access. Mike Frost, a veteran operative of Canada's Communications Security Establishment (whom we toured through NZ in 2001) has written a whole book about his spy career, revealing that he and his colleagues routinely spied on Canadians. Right now, the NSA is embroiled in scandal with the revelation that it has been illegally spying on Americans since 2002. But they must be terrorists, right? Actually, US court papers revealed one target group to be a Quaker peace group that holds protests at NSA headquarters.

His claim that the GCSB acts in NZ's defence would be more credible if it had played any role in detecting or preventing the murderous 1980s' bombing of the "Rainbow Warrior" by French intelligence, or the fraudulent acquisition of NZ passports by Israeli intelligence agents only two years ago. Both cases caused major ruptures in NZ's international relations and involved foreign spies being imprisoned here. But the GCSB played no role in the resolution of either. Its priorities are dictated elsewhere.

NZ is nuclear free and out of ANZUS, Iraq was the first American war that we didn't join. But that hard won independence is fatally compromised by our continued membership of this covert American-led global intelligence alliance. The Bush Administration has proclaimed intelligence to be the key component of its war strategy.

The Waihopai spybase is New Zealand's biggest contribution to all American wars. It is staffed by New Zealanders and paid for by NZ taxpayers but, in all but name, is an American spybase. That base alone, and the GCSB, ties NZ into the American war machine. The US military has a shoot first, think about it later policy. This, combined with a large number of civilian deaths due to "faulty intelligence" in Iraq, Afghanistan and, most recently, Pakistan, means that New Zealanders, unknowingly, have the blood of innocents on our hands.

We call for the closure of the Waihopai and Tangimoana spybases, the abolition of the GCSB, and an end to NZ's covert ties with the American war machine. Only then will we be truly independent.

Murray Horton is the spokesperson for the Anti-Bases Campaign.


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