Top spy job appointment needs transparency

Lack of oversight of New Zealand’s external spy agency the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), makes it even more important that there’s transparency around the appointment of its head.

John Key encouraged family friend and school mate Ian Fletcher, who he had kept contact with in recent years, to apply for the chief spy position. This is a position that is directly responsible to the Prime Minister, and one that lacks appropriate external oversight.

This relationship might be fine in a different Ministerial CEO appointment, one that is open to public scrutiny, such as the Official Information Act and thorough reviews by parliamentary select committees. However with the GCSB and the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), oversight is negligible, and in fact the Prime Minister and Chief Spy may meet without even their own staff or records being kept.

The spy agencies bosses hold two very powerful positions that New Zealanders must have full confidence in, and that need a fully transparent process of engagement with absolutely no risk of cronyism. This current appointment of John Key’s friend was not transparent, and the position should have been re-advertised if applications weren’t suitable.

The Green Party want better oversight of our spy agencies. We want the GCSB to be monitored by a parliamentary select committee and for a review of the SIS to see if its work would sit better with the police.

The handling of this appointment highlights why better oversight is needed for our spy agencies. The current system is not working.

101 thoughts on “Top spy job appointment needs transparency

  1. Sounds like more neo-liberal politics.. looking after their mates &/or jobs for the boys ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3 (0)

  2. The Green Party’s association with international communism needs transparency.

    I hope to God the GCSB is keeping a very close eye on Green Party treason.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8 (-4)

  3. “I hope to God the GCSB is keeping a very close eye on Green Party treason.”

    Me too. I haven’t had a wink of sleep since Lenin got off that sealed train. What’s he up to these days anyway? How come his nefarious activities aren’t reported in our biased leftist media?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 (+6)

  4. Parliamentary oversight is a joke to Key…He acts like a dictator and no one seems to be able do anything about it…Democracy in this country is almost dead!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6 (-1)

  5. ShonKey could defecate on the sidewalk, yet still have the polls and his debauched fans rate it as a stunning piece of art. . .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3 (+2)

  6. Ian Rennie, head of SSC who over saw the GCSB head selection process, has slammed Labour’s allegation of cronyism as “baseless” and is angered they would suggest that civil servants are venal and influence by politicians.

    Not just Labour, it would seem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3 (-1)

  7. Democracy in this country is almost dead!

    Democracy is alive and well. It’s the demos that is a bit dim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  8. Arana and photonz1’s acceptance of John Key’s version of the Kim Ditcom affair and the events involving the GCSB make monkeys of them both and destroy any lingering credibility they might have been granted through their comments on other issues here. Only fools or liars could hold the position they claim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3 (0)

  9. “Ian Rennie, head of SSC who over saw the GCSB head selection process, has slammed Labour’s allegation of cronyism as “baseless” and is angered they would suggest that civil servants are venal and influence by politicians.”

    Gosh, the guy who’s job it is to ensure correct processes are followed is angry that somebody would suggest they haven’t. Obviously he has nothing at stake and is a fair and neutral party in all this and we should take him at his word.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3 (+3)

  10. greenfly says “Only fools or liars could hold the position they claim.”

    Please let me know what position am I supposed to be claiming?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  11. Gosh, the guy who’s job it is to ensure correct processes are followed is angry that somebody would suggest they haven’t. Obviously he has nothing at stake and is a fair and neutral party in all this and we should take him at his word.

    So, someone asserts that the only reason this guy got the job was because he was a friend of John Key and that the selection board were all corrupt and some take that as the truth?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 (+2)

  12. What would any investigation show, anyway?

    Was this guy qualified. Yes.
    Did you deem him suitable for the role. Yes.
    Is that why you employed him? Yes.
    Did you employ him because he once met John Key? No.

    Riveting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  13. greenfly says “You know, wilful blindness to Key’s lying.
    That position.”

    That’s funny – you say I’ve claimed this position, but I haven’t claimed any position.

    It’s just another case of what’s going on in your head, and the real world, being two different things.

    You’ll find that happens when you get all hysterical about meaningless and inconsequential events.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  14. “So, someone asserts that the only reason this guy got the job was because he was a friend of John Key and that the selection board were all corrupt and some take that as the truth?”

    Rubbish – nobody has asserted that. It was asserted that there was a bias in the selection process, not that ‘this was the ONLY reason he got the job.

    “Did you employ him because he once met John Key”

    “Once met”? Are you really unaware that Key telephoned him to propose he apply for the job and had met him on several occasions over years?

    However you are right – nobody is going to actually admit to bias. Which is why we have processes and don’t rely on people saying “Oh no, I wouldn’t do something like that”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  15. Agreed, photo. It’s meaningless and inconsequential that the prime minster didn’t tell the truth because what he says never has much actual content anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  16. Rubbish – nobody has asserted that. It was asserted that there was a bias in the selection process, not that ‘this was the ONLY reason he got the job.

    Bias? In a job selection process? My God! Someone call Reuters! Perhaps we should select job candidates by ballot.

    “Did you employ him because John Key suggested he apply for the job? No”.

    End of inquiry.

    It’s just another political beat-up. The only purpose of an inquiry is to keep the matter in the media longer. All that does is increase people’s contempt for politicians who use public money as a marketing exercise to further their own agendas.

    Would you people PLEASE get on with solving REAL problems for this country and stop playing endless, childish, silly games.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 (+2)

  17. “Would you people PLEASE get on with solving REAL problems for this country and stop playing endless, childish, silly games.”

    If you think its a silly game, perhaps you should stop wasting your own time talking about it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3 (+1)

  18. Sam – you’ve still to explain all the hysteria.

    All that’s been said so far is someone Key vaguely knew and who was suitable for the job got it, after being interviewed by a panel who is not being accused of being biased.

    The worst I’ve heard so far is that Rennie should have called him instead of Key, because otherwise a certain groups of people would get all hysterical.

    And that’s proved to be accurate.

    It’s just like the teacup saga apparently being the most important headline news on the planet for two weeks.

    Like then, most people will see it for what it is – mass hysteria about nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  19. Our PM (Pinocchio Minister) has a nose as long as his arm, but Arana and Photonz1 want to whistle a merry tune about something else, anything else, because they are Key-flunkies and support the telling of lies as necessary and acceptable. This huge flaw in their character makes monkeys of them and their views on anything at all. Entirely untrustworthy, both.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  20. Any one with a keen interest in contemporary NZ politics knows for certain that Key has been untruthful about the Kim Dotcom saga and this latest ‘news’ about Fletcher.
    Arana and photonz1 know that is the case, but will do all that they can to avoid admitting that it is. What does that make them? Why won’t they come out and make a definitive statement about the central issue, Key’s dishonest claims and behaviour? Why do they continue to throw up red-herrings etc, rather than address the elephant in the room? Are they stupid? Probably not. That leaves dishonest. I believe they are, both.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  21. greenfly – keep your hysteria up – you’ll pop a vein any minute now.

    If there is ever a real issue, you’d better look at getting some heart pills real quick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  22. “The worst I’ve heard so far is…”

    So you haven’t heard, photonz1, that New Zealand’s Prime Minister is being accused, across the information media web, of telling lies. That’s why you don’t regard it as something worth commenting on. Very John-Key of you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  23. Gosh, I really can’t see what all the hysteria is about? All that has happened is that the prime minister wore a blue tie – why do people keep going on and on about this? Or is the concern that he had a pie for lunch on Thursday? I just don’t get it.

    I just keep putting the telescope to my blind eye and can’t see a thing…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 (+3)

  24. I wonder what the next scandal will be?

    John Key encourages school leavers to work in the public service. Some of them do.

    Someone call for an investigation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  25. The next scandal? It’ll be further revelations about Key’s untruthfulness.
    You’ll steadfastly ignore that one as well, Arana, because you condone lying, as demonstrated by your concentrated avoidance of discussing it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  26. The reaction is revealing.

    A reasonably well-paid job is a “huge deal” for some on the left and something they don’t feel they could get on their own merit, whereas on the right it’s just – you know, a reasonably well-paying job. It seems to me, given his past, that the guy is clearly qualified for a number of well-paying jobs. If he didn’t get this, he’d get another.

    What’s the issue, again?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5 (-3)

  27. ou’ll steadfastly ignore that one as well, Arana, because you condone lying, as demonstrated by your concentrated avoidance of discussing it.

    I condone lying?

    I thought you were ignoring me, anyway. That didn’t last long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4 (-3)

  28. Arana says “I wonder what the next scandal will be?”

    Apparently it’s rumoured that he had breakfast with Fletcher….twice….since 1983.

    And Key only admitted having a coffee with Fletcher, but when the truth comes out, it turns out he actually had tea – not coffee – he was telling lies again.

    Greenfly’s histrionics brigade will want a snap election over that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4 (-1)

  29. Yes, these food-based scandals are getting a little ridiculous….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3 (0)

  30. D’ya think Key’s been lying, Arana? Photonz1? D’ya? D’ya?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  31. greenfly says “D’ya think Key’s been lying, Arana? Photonz1? D’ya? D’ya?”

    About what?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  32. What’s the issue? What’s Key supposed to be lying about? Why the fuss about somebody getting a job…

    Hang on? We’re you talking?

    La la la la la.. I’ve got my fingers in my ears and I can’t hear you!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  33. Sam asks “What’s the issue?”

    Good question.

    The PM has the final say who he wants for the GCSB job, and there’s a big conspiracy because he picked someone he wanted.

    Sam asks “What’s Key supposed to be lying about?”

    Another good question. Nobody knows.

    There’s been lots of “liar, liar pants on fire” but everyone has failed to come up with what the lie is supposed to be.

    Sam asks “Why the fuss about somebody getting a job…”

    Another good one. As a political commentator said today, it’s got about as much substance behind it as the wind.

    Everyone will forget about is in a few days, just like most people can’t actually tell you anymore why there was such a big fuss about teapot-gate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2 (-2)

  34. Photo, Arana, your position, dog’s balls, sticking out like.

    Denialissssstsssss*

    *Said with a sneer

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  35. “What’s Key supposed to be lying about?”

    “Another good question. Nobody knows.”

    OK let me try and explain this in very simple terms. He was asked about his relationship with Fletcher and maintained it was very limited. Later he admitted having several recent contacts. He also said he had forgotten he made a call to him. This sounds hard to believe.

    If the prime minister doesn’t tell the truth, and misleads parliament, its hard to be confident he isn’t lying in other areas.

    Do you get it now? Really, you could go and read the newspapers to find these things out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  36. Sam – so from your insipid answer, it’s obvious you still can’t come up with any Key quotes that are lies.

    greenfly says “Photo, Arana, your position, dog’s balls, sticking out like.”

    translated – “I’m still all hysterical, but no, despite screaming about lies, I’ve failed repeatedly to find any.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  37. At first Key said: “Iain Rennie, state services commissioner recommended him to me… I rang [Fletcher] and said ‘look, you know, you might be interested.”

    Asked again who first brought up Fletcher’s name, Key replied: “Iain Rennie put it to me.”

    Later on, he was asked again who first mentioned Fletcher. “I would have mentioned it to him, I’m sure.”

    When pressed to clarify if he first suggested the name to Rennie, he said: “I’m sure I probably would have.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8500613/Spy-boss-got-job-after-call-from-PM

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  38. solkta tries to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    Iain Rennie ALREADY knew very well who Ian Fletcher was.

    So much so, that he even stated on TV tonight that he was so impressed with Fletcher, that has been interested in recruiting him into the NZ civil service for MANY YEARS.

    In case you didn’t understand that, Rennie has wanted to recruit Fletcher into the NZ civil service for MANY YEARS.

    So who remembers who mentioned him first in a conversation years ago has the relevance of a pea – which coincidentally is the size of the brain you’d need to think this is a major issue.

    The left are so caught up in trying to score points over trivialities, that they’ve failed to realise that they’re accusing Key of interfering in an appointment where HE legally has the final say on who he wants in the position.

    It’s a bit like saying he’s interfered in who he wants as a cabinet minister.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3 (-2)

  39. It’s a bit like saying he’s interfered in who he wants as a cabinet minister.

    Quite obviously not worth trying to discuss this with photo. He just can’t seem to understand the difference between the Government and the Civil Service. Quite fascinating to see the blurring between Neoliberalism and Fascism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  40. Both photonz1 and Arana believe Key has been entirely honest throughout the Dotcom and now Fletcher sagas.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ahhhhhhh…

    …be still, my spinning bullsh*t detector.

    *Sings
    Arana and photo,
    snuggled up to Key
    Bee-ewe-ell-sh*t-eye-en-gee

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  41. solkta says “He just can’t seem to understand the difference between the Government and the Civil Service.”

    You show ignorance that there are civil service positions (i.e. head of the GCSB) where the PM’s job is to have final say on who he appoints.

    greenfly says “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ahhhhhhh…
    …be still, my spinning bullsh*t detector. *Sings Arana and photo,
    snuggled up to Key Bee-ewe-ell-sh*t-eye-en-gee”

    I often wonder if you really are a middle aged adult on a public council, or really just a juvenile high school kid (or perhaps you’re just off your face).

    You’re obviously still hysterical – enjoy it while it lasts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  42. “Sam – so from your insipid answer, it’s obvious you still can’t come up with any Key quotes that are lies.”

    Well, Photo, I’ll have to leave it at that. I presume you are just being blindly loyal to your hero, rather than genuinely hopelessly naive when it comes to detecting falsehood (which kind of suggests you don’t take telling the truth too seriously, anyway).

    But in case it is the latter, if you ever want to buy the Golden Gate Bridge, feel free to drop me a line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  43. Sam says “Well, Photo, I’ll have to leave it at that. ”

    That’s a big back down when you’d think it would be so easy to quote all those lies you’ve been going on about.

    The Civil Service has been wanting to recruit Fletcher for years, and the most damming thing you can come up with is Key has met him a few times over the years.

    Do you realise how pathetically weak your accusations are?

    Not to mention you’re happy to use slander and innuendo to destroy a top civil servants reputation, even if they’ve done nothing wrong, in the hope you can score some cheap political brownie points.

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  44. Remember the moment during the television interview when Key said,
    Sqeeeeak!“?

    Right then, he wasn’t lying.

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  45. I’m certainty looking forward to Key’s next political scandal, which will involve a pizza, a delivery boy, the exchange of cash, and a tip.

    We must have an investigation.

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  46. Arana says “I’m certainty looking forward to Key’s next political scandal, which will involve a pizza, a delivery boy, the exchange of cash, and a tip. We must have an investigation.”

    We don’t need an investigation. Apparently he made a strange verbal noise which is proof of 100% guilt these days, whatever the crime was.

    North Korea has threatened nuclear attack on the States, Southland may lose thousands of jobs – but what’s the most important headline news here?

    According the greenfly – “Sqeeeeak!“?

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  47. Lets see… I looked for about 10 seconds and found a statement about Sky City. Doesn’t mean there will be more pokies. Sure. One has to work through the obfuscation.

    Key does not tell you the truth. As a New Yorker I find his ability to fool New Zealanders a bit disheartening… can so many of you be THAT gullible?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  48. BJ – proof that Key is telling lies about the Fletcher appointment is that you think he lied about Sky City?

    Wow – such strong evidence.

    Pizza anyone?

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  49. “Do you realise how pathetically weak your accusations are?”

    You mean the ones you keep ignoring or the ones you cite?

    “Not to mention you’re happy to use slander and innuendo to destroy a top civil servants reputation, even if they’ve done nothing wrong, in the hope you can score some cheap political brownie points.”

    Complete bullshit. Find me a single thing I’ve said to Fletcher’s discredit.

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  50. Sam says “Complete bullshit. Find me a single thing I’ve said to Fletcher’s discredit.”

    You’re insinuating Fletcher was chosen for reasons other than he was the best person for the job.

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  51. John Key, Ace Money Trader,sharp as a tack, finger on the pulse of International Finance, forgets things on a regular basis.

    “strange verbal noise”? Nah, it was a squeak squeeeeeeeeeak! followed by a porky.

    Forgot that he’d rung the successful candidate for the position of Head Spook. It is the kind of thing you’d forget, photonz1 argues, despite your reputation for … go to start of comment.

    If you hold your nose, you too can swallow bullsh*t with the same casual air that photonz1 does.

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  52. The PM can’t be expected to remember every employment-related issue, especially those 18 months ago.

    In any case, the Prime Minister – any Prime Minister – gets final say of who gets appointed head of GCSB, anyway.

    Storm in a tea…..pot.

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  53. The Prime Minister – any Prime Minister – is required to tell the truth in the House, anyway.

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  54. So Arana, you believe that the Prime Minister forgot that he phoned Mr Fletcher to suggest that he apply for the Head Spook position, a position he in fact won, and even when asked in the House about the role he played in Mr Fletcher’s fortunes, he forgot that he’d made that call?
    Are you seriously expecting us to believe:
    a. that Key forgot
    b. that you believe that he forgot?

    Your “The PM can’t be expected to remember every employment-related issue…” argument is pish. No one claims what you refute. Your strawman seems soooo clumsy and desperate.

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  55. “You’re insinuating Fletcher was chosen for reasons other than he was the best person for the job.”

    No I’m, not. He may well be. What I’m saying – not insinuating – is that the process was shonky and that the PM lied about his role in it. Simple.

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  56. Sam – you’ve expressed the issue succinctly and I get it.

    I think people are becoming aware that though he’s very good at avoiding being pinned down for this kind of behaviour, our Prime Minister is making fools of us by exploiting our gullibility. Most New Zealanders weren’t expecting to have the wool pulled over their eyes by someone as cheerful as John Key, but as they sense that that’s just what is happening, they’ll get tetchy :-) Many already are.

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  57. So Arana, you believe that the Prime Minister forgot that he phoned Mr Fletcher

    Sure. The PM would talk to thousands of people and can’t be expected to remember every conversation at the drop of a hat.

    The PM gets to make final selection on that role anyway, so what’s the issue?

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  58. Many already are.

    Not National voters, and those are the voters Key counts on.

    The left can bang on as much as they like, but they’re only talking to themselves. You would have thought they would have learned by now that attacks on Key don’t work.

    National didn’t win the election by attacking Helen Clark.

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  59. You’re holding your nose.

    One can only wonder what you’re holding :)

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  60. Same strawman, same desperation. I’ll plod through it. No one expects the Prime Minister to remember every conversation he has had. Every one expects him to remember ringing the man who became Head Spook. It’s not an every day conversation. Only the most devoted Key fan-girl could convince herself that Key had genuinely forgotten that call. Remember at the “drop of a hat”, hardly, he was being questioned in the House. Questions are put to ministers in advance. The subject of Fletcher’s appointment was well flagged. You are dancing on a pin’s head and it’s looking very uncomfortable for you.
    If you genuinely don’t know what the issue is, read Sam’s 3:03 comment – he’s set it out very clearly for you.

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  61. Every one expects him to remember ringing the man who became Head Spook

    I don’t. Perhaps he mentioned it to a few likely candidates over the years.

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  62. I’m holding my line, Arana, because I believe it is correct.
    Putting a smiley face after a lewd comment doesn’t erase your lewd thinking.

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  63. Sam and greenfly – despite numerous requests, you’ve both failed….and failed…..and failed .. to give us the quote from Key that you say is a lie.

    Without those quotes, the total summation of your posts amounts to nothing more substantive than “liar, liar pants on fire”.

    And if you do have quotes, and it’s about who thought they did or didn’t make a phone call a year or two ago, your argument will still be severely lacking in substance.

    Key could call his brother for the job (if he has one), and if he is the best qualified to do it, he should get it.

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  64. Gordon Campbell sorts it (and casts light on the pin-head dancing of photon and Arana)

    At this point, the Ian Fletcher affair risks getting lost in the‘angels on pinheads’ detail that fascinates the Beltway, and bores the pants off everyone else. What remains clear is that Prime Minister John Key intervened and changed the selection process for a spymaster’s job that – for very good consitutional reasons – is supposed to be kept at arms’ length from political interference. On this occasion, Key not only held a ‘brainstorming’ session about possible candidates with Iain Rennie, the person running the candidate selection process but took it on himself to solicit an application from someone he knew personally. Key needs to admit that was wrong, and should apologise for his actions, at the very least.

    Yesterday, Rennie himself mentioned a cautionary precedent of sorts – the ministerial interference in the appointment of Clare Curran to a job at the Environment Ministry in 2007. Keep in mind the difference in scale here. One was a job doing work about the environment; the other is running the country’s main spy agency. Yet back then, National MPs felt that such intervention was outrageous, and especially if it involved phoning the applicant. Here’s how Gerry Brownlee painted the picture in a press release back in 2007:
    Mr Brownlee says the full text of the inquiry [into the Curran appointment] shows a worrying culture of politicisation in the public service, to the point that few seem to understand how bad it has become…David Parker even rang Ms Curran himself to say he’d put in a good word for her.
    Even David Farrar at Kiwiblog has been critical, and has pinpointed one of the reasons for concern:
    I think it is unfortunate the Prime Minister phoned Ian Fletcher to suggest he applies…a phone call from the PM soliciting the application would carry weight with the State Services Commission.
    Exactly. If and when Ministers send such a signal as to a preferred candidate that inevitably tips the scales. That’s one reason why Ministers are supposed to keep their noses out of operational matters, and the choice of who is to run the GCSB is the Mother Of All Operational Matters, one would have thought. That kind of finger on the scales intervention on behalf of a particular person is why the then-ACC Minister Nick Smith got suspended from Cabinet for a few months last year. Key claiming that he couldn’t initially remember phoning Fletcher is not only implausible but is almost beside the point: the call should never have been made, but (as yet) Key seems blissfully unrepentant. Which suggests that unless there is an inquiry by the Auditor-General to tell him otherwise, he’s likely to do it again.
    Incidentally, one would love to know how Key described the job to Fletcher in that mid- 2011 phone call. Since Fletcher has allegedly been hired for his experience as a “change manager” rather than for his (non-existent) military signals expertise, that indicates Key already felt in mid 2011 that the GCSB needed a thorough organisational shake-up? If so, on what grounds? Because the need for the Kitteridge review supposedly emerged only in 2012. There’s a kind of retrofitting of Fletcher for the job going on right now. And that too, needs to be investigated. What was Fletcher told at the time about the nature of the job?
    Of course, there is a plausible alternative theory for Fletcher’s selection. In mid 2011, the operation against Kim Dotcom was already being put on the rails. With that in mind and with a surveillance role for the GCSB envisaged, did the government wish to install a friendly face in the top role at the spy agency, rather than a ‘by the books’ military person who might raise picky objections to the GCSB involvement, which has turned ojut to be illegal. But….that theory would cast doubt on Key’s assurance that he first heard of the joint Police-FBI home raid (on the flamboyant millionaire living in his electorate) on the day that it happened. And we all believe that one, right? Right?
    Which raises a final point – if Fletcher wasn’t told beforehand of the looming Dotcom operation, when did he first learn about it and how was it brought to his attention? Did someone take him aside and say “Look Ian, we know you were told this job is about military signals traffic and stuff that you know nothing about, but don’t worry, we’ve got that covered for you. But well…there is this OTHER small thing. We’re also engaged with the FBI in a surveillance and swoop on a German Internet millionaire living in the PM’s electorate. You OK with that, Ian? At morning tea the other day Bob, the courier chap said that he thinks this surveillance might be illegal, but don’t worry, we’ve got that covered…”
    Plainly, an inquiry by the Auditor-General is now needed to restore some degree of public trust in the role of the GCSB. On the side, maybe the Auditor-General can tell the executive why it should keep its nose out of sensitive public sector appointments.

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  65. Andrea Vance pins Rennie as well:

    OPINION: It came more than a week too late. But State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie finally fronted up to answer questions on the controversial GCSB appointment.

    He grumpily issued a late-night statement on Wednesday, riled by accusations that qualified candidates were ditched at the last minute in favour of Ian Fletcher.

    But that didn’t explain why he – a supposedly apolitical civil servant – told only half the story when he released a statement on March 28.

    As is predictable when someone is forced to answer questions (rather than choose what they want to address in a press release), Mr Rennie has now admitted more than he was comfortable with.

    Contrary to what was claimed by the Government (and earlier by Mr Rennie himself), there WAS something abnormal in this selection process: Prime Minister John Key himself called Mr Fletcher. Mr Rennie conceded he was surprised. Other things weren’t quite as Mr Key has painted. It was he who ultimately rejected the short list, not Mr Rennie, although the SSC boss advised that none of the candidates was up to scratch.

    Mr Rennie says he has never been pressured by ministers. Why then did he feel it necessary to leave out crucial details: that Mr Fletcher was the only candidate interviewed, that he applied only after a call from Mr Key?

    Mr Rennie also failed to adequately explain why the position was not readvertised when the short list was rejected. And why he – a busy man – took a list of people he didn’t want to employ to the prime minister – also a busy man.

    His defence on hiring a civil servant with “change management” experience rather than military or defence experience is intriguing. Clearly, the Government had decided on a GCSB shake-up long before the Kim Dotcom spying scandal highlighted deficiencies.

    Questions remain, and both Mr Key and Mr Rennie have shown themselves unwilling to give straight answers.

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  66. Oh, I see now photo, now the problem is that I referred to what Key said, but didn’t dig up the exact quotes (which have been all over the media) and you therefore can’t understand what we are talking about?

    Well, we could split hairs infinitum, but I’ve got a chicken to pluck and window frames to paint, so I’m afraid I can’t you’ll have to live in suspense.

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  67. greenfly – keep scoring those own goals – Gordon Campbell totally stuffs up from his very first paragraph.

    “for very good consitutional reasons – is supposed to be kept at arms’ length from political interference.”

    Wrong – the head of GSCB is one of three civil service jobs (out of tens of thousands) who ARE APPOINTED BY THE PRIME MINISTER.

    He thinks a position where the Prime Minister can pick whoever he wants, should be independent from the Prime Minister. What an idiot.

    greenfly says “Michelle Boag! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

    No you idiot – left wing media commentator and ex Labour spin man Brian Edwards. He was ridiculing how stupid the “scandal” is, and how people who think every detail from years ago should be remembered by MPs are delusional.

    As he said – when he worked for Labour, ministers and prime ministers suggest people for jobs ALL THE TIME – always have.

    Sam fails yet again to find any quotes, so squirms a bit then waffles on again.

    At least there’s one positive thing about the whole issue – it clearly shows who the conspiracy loons are.

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  68. Editorial, Southland Times

    OPINION: Knuckleheads that we are, John Key has put the news media and the Opposition on notice not to come to him seeking quick answers on what he’s done in the past.

    He wants time to get his story str . . . sorry, to prepare the sort of detailed and researched replies that would satisfy the excruciatingly close examinations that are then applied to them.

    Like whether they are truthful.

    Mr Key’s professions of forgetfulness are themselves becoming damagingly memorable, but this latest move is a bad tactical error.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/opinion/8516215/If-memory-serves

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  69. That wasn’t squriming, it was sarcasm.

    I could spend quite some time digging up the exact quotes you ask for and what would be the result? You’d then write numerous posts splitting hairs abiout what was said, what was meant, how it’s a storm in a teacup, that it will soon be forgotten (funnily enough, lot’s of us haven’t forgotten Helen Clark’s evasions and falsehoods, even when the actual issues were minor), etc. etc. so what’s the point?

    If you wanted to you could easily find the exact quotes yourself. I don’t have endless time to argue with you.

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  70. Sam says “blah blah blah”

    Which translates to …”yet again, I’ve failed to back up my claims”

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  71. greenfly – I had a great laugh at your Southland Times Editorial.

    What an idiot.

    He says the GCSB appointment should have been done by the civil service – when it’s the Prime Ministers appointment.

    And delusional as well. He thinks the PM should be able to remember phone calls, even when they are 10,000 – 20,000 calls ago.

    As left wing media commentator Brian Edwards says, you’d have to be “absolutely stupid” to think anyone can remember tens of thousands of phone calls.

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  72. I love your style, photonz1 – thrash on against the current of the patently obvious. I just see you, in my mind’s eye, watching Key being interviewed about his ‘forgetfulness” and not understanding his body language, his devious half-answers and his squeaking. It must seem strange to you, that so many others know in an instant when someone is lying, yet you don’t pick up a single clue. How confusing that must be! Everyone going, haw! as Key scrabbles about for cover, and you thinking, whaaaa???

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  73. Tracey Watkins has been smitten with Key since forever but today she writes:

    “When he was asked if he had had any contact with Mr Fletcher since his school days Mr Key said he could not recall any particular occasions. And when he was later asked what role he played in the appointment, Mr Key responded: “Only that the state services commissioner came to me with the recommendation.”

    It wasn’t just that Mr Key misspoke. He was asked the question in various ways and the basic thrust of his response didn’t waver.

    You can play the semantic game all you like, but ultimately it boils down to one thing. By any acceptable yardstick, those answers were simply not true.

    Mr Key’s subsequent explanation, that he forgot, also stretches credulity.”

    (But not photonz1’s cedulity, oh no! :-)

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  74. greenfly – you miss the fact that everything you think is a big deal has zero relevance – none at all – zip, nada, nothing – the PM can appoint whoever he wants to. It’s his job to appoint whoever he wants.

    So all your conspiracy theories end up looking like some pathetic attempt to score points – which is exactly what they are.

    In a months time, no one will even remember what the fuss was about.

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  75. The point Photonz, isn’t that Key IS NOT telling the truth. He’s a politician, so I don’t as a rule EXPECT the truth. Being able to lie convincingly is a Job Requirement for successful politicians in a democracy like ours. That’s serious, not a slur on any politician. Success is predicated on votes and power and voters are a very diverse lot. Brutal honesty is not something that wins a lot of votes.

    OTOH, there are minimum standards of behaviour that I expect from politicians, like not lying unnecessarily. As you point out, this one wasn’t NECESSARY, was he doing it for practice or from habit… or did he simply not even consider telling the truth? Also not doing more damage than necessary, and that’s the crux of the issue with him and National in general.

    The offensive thing though, isn’t HIS actions or behaviour. It is the gullibility of a lot of people here in NZ, which would not I think, last long in the Big Apple. Key could NOT get one past a New Yorker.

    They might but their gullibility would not… and the lessons are expensive.

    Expensive for NZ too.

    Basic? Even if you are a poli you need to stick as close to truth as you can. With National’s policies though, there are few opportunities to speak honestly and openly about anything.

    So maybe it is just a habit.

    Don’t expect me to trust him… ever… with anything.

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  76. photonz1 – you are attributing someone else’s argument to me. I am only claiming one thing – that Key is not being honest with us. It’s very obvious to me. Seemingly, you cannot detect lies/misdirections when presented with them by your Prime Minister. That’s odd. Bjchip’s ‘New York’ comments ring so true to me. How you can’t pick up on the squeaking, the dead-fish eyes and so on, I’ll never know. It’s as plain as the nose on his face. (I’ll bet you rise to that subtlety. You are capable of reading innuendo when you want to. In the case of the PM, you just don’t want to.)

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  77. *sudden realisation – I’m red/green colour-blind (didn’t know, it was a bolt from the green) and miss simple signals, like blushing. Photonz1 is clearly ‘message-blind’ and can’t spot a shyster.
    That realised, I’ll stop tormenting him.

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  78. greenfly – as Brian Edwards said – you have to be completely stupid to think because someone forgets something that they’re telling lies about it.

    Especially when it is just one out of tens of thousands of calls – pretty much all of them important.

    Secondly, whether Rennie or Key was the first person to suggest Fletcher (Rennie said he’s wanted him for years), has about as much importance as whether Key remembers whether he had tea or coffee on a particular day 2 years ago.

    He is ALLOWED to have whoever he wants – it’s HIS appointment – not teh civil services.

    However you should be given marks for both your dedication, and desperation, to making up a conspiracy when it doesn’t actually exist.

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  79. photonz1 – Key didn’t forget.
    I feel mean debating this with you, given your disability. Please don’t make me do it!

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  80. greenfly says “Key didn’t forget.”

    Keep it up greenfly – it’s amusing.

    You’re claiming he lied to try to hide something he’s perfectly within his rights to do. In fact it’s his job to appoint the head of GCSB.

    Or do you mean he lied about whether he had coffee or tea for breakfast two years ago, because it was so fundamentally important that no one knew.

    That would be terrible. A coffee scandal to go with the tea and pizza delivery.

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  81. BJ says “Don’t expect me to trust him… ever… with anything.”

    With all due respect, as someone of the far left who regularly makes extreme attacking statements about the government, your trust of the PM has less than zero relevance.

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  82. “Did you involve yourself with the selection of Mr Fletcher, Mr Key? ”

    “Nah.”

    “Did you personally ring Mr Fletcher, Mr Key.”

    “Oh, yeah!”

    Spot the un-true moment.

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  83. greenfly “Did you involve yourself with the selection of Mr Fletcher, Mr Key? ”

    Duh!!!!

    It’s the PMs job to appoint the head of the GCSB.

    Key’s description of “knuckleheads” of those who think there is some scandal when it IS HIS JOB to make the appointment, could not be more apt for you greenfly.

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  84. greenfly – are those the real quotes?

    Or just something you’ve made up, but then try to mislead people by using quotation marks to pretend they are real?

    My bet is they are fake and you’re just trying to mislead people.

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  85. Photonz – The PM appears to be working for someone other than the people of New Zealand. That’s OK if he is a Banker, or a Lawyer.

    If he is the Prime Minister it is treason.

    The appearance that he is working for someone else is pretty much constant and has been for the past 4 or so years. No decisions that I see in his history that actually preserve our environment or improve our economy. Just attempt after attempt to open up mining and drilling and destruction. Attempt after attempt to sell off assets at prices a tenth what they are worth. Attempt after attempt to open up NZ to foreign exploitation through unbalanced trade. To sell out to Sky on pokies to get a convention center… to Petrobras…

    You go on and enjoy your blind faith in him.

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  86. Key’s own lies have caught up with him over this and the whole GCSB/Kim Dotcom debacle stinks to high heaven.

    Having been caught out with his own dishonesty Key now wants all questions that he might be asked submitted in writing, presumably so he can get his bullshit story straight and not be caught out contradicting himself so badly in the future.

    Danyl has a fairly good time-line on events here

    http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/conspiracy-theory-of-the-day-gcsb-timeline-edition/

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  87. Real, photonz1? Only Pinocchio knows!

    They are “Key” quotes.
    Make of them what you will.

    It hurts me to exploit your blind-spot so. Please desist from making a dill-pickle of yourself.

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