Talk about stupidity and vindictiveness. The Government Communications Security Bureau is claiming from the Waihopai Three protesters $256.38 for the beer drunk by workers repairing the plastic dome at the spybase. Another invoice specifies $62.93 for savouries.
The total damages claim against the three protesters is over $1 million.
The court case will be micky mouse. The GCSB will outline its case in solemn tomes. Then, asked about the purpose of their dome, the GCSB will say: “can’t tell you, it’s secret”. That is, if they send any witnesses to the court, which they didn’t do in the first court case, when the three men got off a charge of “intentional damage”.
The “not guilty” verdict was not surprising after evidence to the court from whistle-blower Katherine Gunn. In 2003, while working at the British equivalent of the GCSB, she came across memo from the US National Security Agency (NSA) calling for the worldwide interception of communications of Security Council members to get ‘insights’ into where they stood on UN resolutions authorising an invasion of Iraq. The Waihopai station, as part of the integrated system run by the NSA, would have taken part in these interceptions, even though the Clark government was opposing any such invasion.
Some New Zealanders, like Waikato lecturer Ron Smith who I debated on Morning Report on Thursday, think it is great that we are helping America gather electronic intelligence. But there are many other Kiwis who would like us to take a more independent stance.
One cover story for Waihopai, which came up during the Morning Report debate, is that it is some version of Interpol specialising in tracking down terrorists. In reality the five-nation Echelon network, of which Waihopai is a part, is tasked with spying on other governments. Nicky Hager provided chapter and verse in his book Secret Power (1996) that GCSB analysts were focussing on Japanese government communications. Fourteen years later the target is probably China.
The Waihopai Three protesters say they are not scared of another court case because it will give them another platform to talk about the base and explain why it should not be on our soil.