Intelligence Services’ PR campaign
Our intelligence services have used the New Zealand Listener magazine for a nice touchy- feely PR campaign. Under the cover story Secrets & Spies we learn amazing things. Not only are the three agencies presently run by civil service career women. No, there is more. One is living in a 25 year loving lesbian relationship. One was as a teenager taken by her parents to an anti-Springbok march. One was in the 1970-is even a member of the Trotskyist Socialist Action League.
The journalist was clearly sucked in by a powerful woman ‘I rather cheekily ask whether I can have a look at the inner sanctum of the SIS, thinking it would be off-limits. “of course you can come to my office,” comes the spontaneous reply‘.
The whole backstory of the three women is revealed just to make us feel that the spymasters are people like us. Six years in the freezing works almost becoming the first female butcher. Daughter of 10 pound poms or of mixed Gujarati/Irish pedigree. Compared to the old ex-military / foreign service guard these women look more democratic and representative of the people than the ruling classes. Another image which the spies will want to portray. The more we think of them like us the more we will trust them that they exercise their immense powers for and not against us. However this look is as deceptive as everything else spies do.
On the other side of the world
“Edward Snowden wins Sweden’s ‘alternative’ Nobel prize” reads the headline of the BBC News. Whistleblower Edward Snowden received several standing ovations in the Swedish parliament after being given the Right Livelihood award for his revelations of the scale of state surveillance.
The awards jury, in its citation, said Snowden was being honoured “for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights” (Guardian).
Back to the New Zealand PR job
All three ladies are lawyers, which should already raise a warning sign. How do they answer the Listener’s question about the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden : Traitor or hero ?
Interestingly only the one in the supervisory role of Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security was positive by saying about Snowden’s impact “I think the fact that there are now these inquiries at a high level – such as what is this capacity for the collection of bulk data , how is it controlled – is a really good thing.”
The directors of the GCSB and SIS, who do the actual bulk spying for the US and on our Pacific neighbours and our own citizens ‘are less charitable’.
They still deny the fact ‘that the GCSB was monitoring willy-nilly the communications of New Zealanders‘. SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge tells the Listener seemingly with a bare face that :
If Snowden had genuine concerns, they should have been raised in a way that didn’t compromised the work of intelligence agencies “in the way it has … there were other ways he could have surfaced this information without putting it into the hands of countries that are not friendly to the Western alliance“.
Lies vs Facts
Kitteridge is undoing all her nice PR work by telling us a bare faced lie by creating the impression that Snowden had been ‘putting information into the hands of countries that are not friendly to the Western alliance’. (Picture: Traitor selling secrets to the enemy) You’d expect the head of a spy agency to be a professional lier like her US colleague NSA Director James Clapper lying under oath to Congress about mass surveillance of US citizens. However to tell lies so stupidly obvious to see for anyone who followed the Snowden revelations is another level.
Edward Snowden as any whistleblower had reached the point where he realised that raising his highly ethical, moral and constitutional concerns internally did not work and that whistle-blowing was his only option. Then all he did was to give information to US journalists working for the Guardian, which later shared it with other publications like the NY Times and the German Der Spiegel. They had and have full editorial control over what they do with the information without Snowden having anymore say in it. They over time published the Snowden files piece by piece only after careful considerations about any risk to national security. In the years since the first publications even the belligerent US spies have not been able to point to one single piece of published information from the Snowden files, which had jeopardised national security. You know how eager they would have been to provide proof for their claims.
Case in point was last week’s revelation about “AT&T’s ‘extraordinary, decades-long’ relationship with NSA” (Guardian), “AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale” (NY Times) or “Snowden-Unterlagen: AT&T half Geheimdienst NSA beim Ausspähen” (Der Spiegel) published in parallel by the three publications telling the same story of the telecommunications giant AT&T being complicit by assisting the NSA to spy on among others US citizens and the United Nations in New York.
Of course ‘countries that are not friendly to us’ read Western media rubbing their red hands in glee seeing their Western colleagues being caught redhanded breaking the law or act unethically while they are not (yet). If the unfriendly powers learned anything new then it must have been the sheer scale of Western mass surveillance. They will now enviously increase their own efforts to do the same to their citizens.
Trust restored in our spies ?
Despite the head honchos wearing bras these days the old ruling class male spy spirit from the bygone era of the cold war is obviously alive and kicking. I can understand that the spies under attack for having broken the law try the oldest trick in the book of spin called “dead cat” or “red herring”. Let’s not talk about the spies breaking the law with mass surveillance of us citizens. Let’s instead pull out a dead cat for everyone to talk about instead. Like how we learned about it: Whistle blower or traitor.
But do our top spies have to lie so blatantly ? Snowden is considered a hero around the world. Winner of among other awards the Swedish alternative Nobel Peace Price. They on the other hand or at least one of them is lying to us.
How can we trust people who lie to us ? Do you ?