Is Waihopai helping the US spy on the UN?

The latest Wikileaks documents on US spying on the UN are going to make it harder for our government to justify the Waihopai spy station.

Waihopai’s main task is to intercept global communications for the US National Security Agency (NSA). The Wikileaks documents inform us that the US has been blatantly violating international conventions with its detailed spying on UN figures, from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon down.

The information sought on UN leaders included personal passwords and encryption keys, credit card numbers, and “biometric information on UN Security Council permanent representatives”. Maybe Waihopai has helped the US get some of these details.

A lot of the information sought was clearly to advance American foreign policy aims, not New Zealand’s. One question posed is why should Waihopai be collecting information for the US on “plans by UN special rapporteurs to press for potentially embarrassing investigations into the US treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay”, to quote a Guardian summary of US directives contained in the documents.

The Guardian says the “operation targeted at the UN appears to have involved all of Washington’s main intelligence agencies”, presumably including our GCSB’s Big Brother, the NSA. The secret “national human intelligence collection directive” was sent by Hillary Clinton in July 2009 to 33 embassies and consulates, presumably including Wellington. We can assume it was implemented by the US Embassy staff here, particularly those with FBI, CIA and NSA assignments.

A lot of the documents are embarrassing governments, particularly in the Arab world, by showing they were more supportive of US foreign policy than they were admitting to their own people. I wonder if any of the Wikileaks documents shows this also applies in New Zealand? We’ll find out soon enough.

38 Comments Posted

  1. Thanks for the link Joe Buchanan.

    The argument of Lyons way back then to not have Well’s speak his mind about Hitler and Mussolini is not dissimilar to the argument about WikiLeaks divulging information now. As one free man to another, I applaud our right to say so.

  2. Diplomacy is a disgusting game. “Diplomats” need to grow up and stop this playground behaviour of slagging off authority figures in private and toadying to them in public. The whole Wikileaks affair would never have happened if diplomats simply adopted a straightforward/plain language talking style in public or private. Diplomatic language has become a way to avoid offending dictators, to avoid upsetting idiots by pointing out the bloody obvious, and to perpetuate the power of ruling “elites”. The consequences of this game for society are huge.

    Black and others suggestion that letting the public in on the game is irresponsible reminds me of a previous NZ Minister from the 60s – can’t remember his name – who observed that foreign affairs was really too important and complicated for the public to be involved with, or of Aussie PM Joseph Lyons attack on HG Wells for daring to speak out against Hitler (——-10–1—-0payton+in–)

    (And my daughter has some idea how to grow beans and no idea who the PM is. Perfectly reasonable given she can observe and I can explain how and why beans grow, but she’s never seen Key and I am at a loss to explain how and why governments exist to a five-year old. Black just wants a complacent public who can’t scrutinise government and whose kids rote-learn supposed “important facts”).

  3. black is a total reactionary…

    ..prehistoric even….in some of her views..

    ..garth george-lite…as it were..

    ..expecting sense from her is like expecting it from…

    ..i dunno..photonz..?


  4. In the December 11-17 2010 issue of the Listener Joanne Black says:

    “The WikiLeaks disclosures are irresponsible and dangerous”, apparently because there is a difference between what one says in private and what is public.

    How exactly does such a resounding statement of intent towards governments keeping secrets become resolved by applying a personal dynamic? I’m at a total loss to see how a personal situation applies to a public figure. WikiLeaks has not divulged personal information has it? I’m not too interested in who they sleep with you know. It has divulged information concerning a public undertaking, which was conducted on behalf of the people. In fact there seems to be no actual writing skills applied by Joanne apart from regurgitation. Where’s that spew bucket, I feel another technicolour yawn coming on.

    She thinks it’s good that diplomats aren’t diplomatic. Oh FFS! What the hell is this lady on? Could she be more crass or endemic of a failed mentality worshiping a failed system that is trying to hold on with every trick in the book? They’re called diplomats for a reason lady!

    Then she follows up with the highlighted paragraph:

    It’s nice to know that cables can be intemperate, salacious or judgemental, and can betray confidences or reveal the use of clandestine sources.

    Some big words there which actually contradict what was previously stated. I guess she gets paid lots to use big words.

    And then: The cost of this disclosure may increase the risk of global destabilisation.

    Mother of all Gods! The sky might fall on our heads. I’m going back to bed to cry about it. The evil terrorists are going to get me… where’s my Prozac.

    The only way that this disclosure might “destabilize” things on a global scale is if people actually start doing something about these horrendous people in places of power. I’m not talking about terrorism either, just the fact that this information might make some people, wake up to the fact that the governments are horrible! The information, is not a further stimulation for terrorists, they are motivated enough already. That’s what much of your tax dollar goes towards. Unless you want to label all right thinking individuals who are enlightened by this information as terrorists, stay away from the propaganda huh!

    She then goes off on an education rant that has nothing to do with WikiLeaks. Having a dig at Charles Chauvel (Labour Environment Spokesperson) who thinks we should educate our children about the environment and teach them how to grow food. To this she replies: “shouldn’t they be able to name the prime minister before they are taught how to grow runner beans”? For crying out loud lady! It’s better to know how to feed yourself than to know the name of the person who has meant you can’t.

    Then: “And it’s plain to me that what might have saved them was the ability to read and write, ahead of having watched An Inconvenient Truth three times before they reached fifth form”.

    Can’t they learn to read and write and watch some movies as well? You plain old haggis! Your fascist right wing philosophy is bordering on the insane. Learn to write yourself before you start in on the young.

    It’s old fashioned thinking Joanne Black; get with the times.

    Furthermore: Dismissing the fact that people were mourning the 29 who had died at Pike River mine because three Tokelauan boys were found is downright disrespectful. Try not to drink so much when you write your editorials. Maybe you might sell more Listeners that way.

  5. “John Carter says “NZ goes on and on about Anzac day and remembering the fallen”

    Which is a complete load of bullshit… rather than making up complete rubbish, attirbuting it to someone, just so you can rant against something that was NEVER said.”

    Um, he “attirbuted” it to New Zealand, Photo, not “someone”.

  6. BJ – if Interpols arrest warrant is because of the rape, then I agree.

    Even if he is guilty, you have to question how many rapists around the world jump to the top of Interpols most wanted list.

    If they want him for distributing private corrspondence that he has illegally aquired, then in my view they probably have a good case.

    Though to press serious charges, they should be required to show that he has has caused significant danger or harm to people.

  7. John Carter says “NZ goes on and on about Anzac day and remembering the fallen”

    Which is a complete load of bullshit.

    Anzac day – never mentioned

    WWI – never mentioned

    Remebering the fallen – never mentioned

    Repeasted over and over as you claim – utter rubbish.

    Time to comment on what people ACTUALLY say, rather than making up complete rubbish, attirbuting it to someone, just so you can rant against something that was NEVER said.

  8. Photonz, Todd

    The State Dept. leak came IMHO from a leak, not a hack. As in someone or several someones looked at what was passing through their hands and decided that it was more important that the world know about it than that they keep their job and stay out of jail. It is in clear when it is written and read on someone’s computer… it is easily done from the inside.

    …and I too tend to discount the charges laid against him as a frame. I have direct experience with State lying-for-practice… not secondhand… and I hope that Assange makes it through the DDOS and persecution. He has to have known this would be coming though. Here’s hoping he prepared thoroughly.

    As for what was said about various leaders and nations… that is hard to fault, as it is important that the evaluations of individuals and nations be honest.


  9. Toad; you are right Julian is being fitted up!!!

    Anyway there is always a spare bed at my house the offer is out there!!!!

  10. photonz1

    Nothing is secure, so effectively you’re saying no one, anywhere should be allowed to blah blah blah!

    Well considering I have a friend and colleague who helped develop the SIS electronic system to be secure and I have considerable knowledge in electronic security myself, I’m wondering if you know what you’re talking about photonz1… again?

    There are many systems (usually internal) that are completely secure and not just in specialized areas. You can develop systems that are secure and it’s fun. It’s an applicable development issue, not an overall germane issue, especially within the context we’re talking about… Government security. Not enough money to develop proper security… yeah right! They’re obviously stupid if they allow their information to be hacked, but it’s more likely to be divulged through internal dissemination. That’s not the issue though…

    You’re ignoring that the people, who have a vested interest in making sure that they’re represented properly and cordially, employ those Government’s. They have a legal right to know where their tax money is going. They’re entitled to know if the people they’re voting for are idiots!

    If you ask me, everything the World’s Government’s do should be transparent. Secrets are used to control and instigate and continue war. A machine that must be shut down, dismantled and reconfigured. If we as a species put as much effort into space travel as we did war, we would probably be living on other planets by now. Secrets are warmongers best friend. The truth will set us free. If you think the secrets that have been divulged should have been kept, please let me know why?

    Learn from the past or be doomed to repeat it.

  11. Photonz1 sayeth…Like the ramping up of tensions between countries, which is more likely to bring countries closer to war.

    Sigh! NZ goes on and on about Anzac day and remembering the fallen… but why or why do we keep forgetting why they fell!?

    The first world war started as an assassination of an imperialist dictator / invader by a freedom fighter.

    This unwound through an interlocking network of SECRET treaties between countries spiralling ever out of control into a global total war that none of the citizens had signed up for or intended.

    Fresh air and sunlight on diplomatic secrets are A Good Thing. Remember The Fallen. Never Again!

  12. Todd says “If you can’t be sure that your system of communication is secure… don’t use it to call people feckless!”

    Nothing is secure, so effectively you’re saying no one, anywhere should be allowed to have any private communication that can’t be published.

  13. Who has a right to keep their private correspondence private, and who has lost their right to keep their private correspondence private?

    In this context, we are not dealing with “private” or perhaps “personal” correspondence; we are discussing correspondence made as part of one’s paid for occupation, in one’s line of work, which is a different thing.

  14. Rape allegations against Assange could well be a honey trap! But I wouldn’t like to speculate further.

    It is more likely Blackwater ops will undertake the hit. Hopefully Assange’s large profile will make them reconsider such action and he has a good enough lawyer to make any legal challenge fail. It’s a dangerous game to play though and open assassination is not the only tool in their belt.

    Showing up the worlds Governments for the clowns they are, turns that clown posse into a retribution filled drunken mob. Which effectively shits all over the notion that there is any freedom of speech without a huge price to pay. Showing up big business turns them into a trained assassin with one thing on their minds.

    So what are your rules for private correspondence Todd?

    If you can’t be sure that your system of communication is secure… don’t use it to call people feckless!

  15. Based on my own experience, the US State Department lies for practice and the possibility that there is stuff in the leaked documents that was INTENDED to be leaked (disinformation) is high.

    Which means that no matter what we finally see it would be very wise to be rather more skeptical than usual about what we see.

    Whether the net effect will be positive or negative… will depend a lot on what we DO see.

    Speculation is not useful.

  16. Todd says “If you can’t say something to a persons face, don’t say it at all.”

    Nice in theory. But we live in the real world.

    At international meetings there are always manners and protocols and diplomacy that smooths the way for relationships and agreements between countries.

    If everyone said exactly what they think, then countries would end up more and more antagonised with each other. Just because you think your wife looks bloody awful in that dress, do you tell her every time she wears it?

    Governments aren’t appointed by the people – 50,000 people work directly for the NZ govt who were never voted for. Only the polititians are appointed, and that’s less than 1% of govt.

    So what are your rules for private correspondence Todd?

    Who has a right to keep their private corespondence private, and who has lost their right to keep their private corespondence private?

  17. Yes, a pretty good achievement in a macabre kind of way. I just hope that Julian Assage isn’t killed by the CIA or FBI. Shooting the messenger so to speak. This would effectively shut down freedom of speech, which has little relevance to international politics apparently.

    These countries Governments damage their own relations and undermine their own administration. It has very little to do with the whistle blower.


    There’s probably barely a person on the planet who wouldn’t be embarrassed if the communications they intended to be private were published for all to see.

    If you can’t say something to a persons face, don’t say it at all.

    And of course the great irony is that many people who have previously been strongly against interception of private communication are now strongly for publication of private information.

    The difference is obvious. Governments are appointed by the people, who “presumably” have a right to know about their mechanisms and conduct, government’s have no business to be snooping in the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

  18. Agreed, Drak.

    And there are the rape allegations against Assange as well. While I am reluctant to ever dismiss rape allegations totally, ones that are made against a man whose avowed principles are totally anti-misogynist and are made in the circumstances of him threatening the secrecy and corruption of world leaders tends to lead me, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to believe that powerful forces are attempting to set him up and discredit him in that regard.

  19. Toad; I am just glad that they are leaked and that 257,287 are in the hands of the 4th estate and I am glad that the 1% is out there.

    That leaves Wikileakes 257,067 to sift through; some are going to be rubbish, or out of date and some of it may be legally questionable and Wikileakes may have to hire a team of experts to sort it out.

    Julian Assage has had death threats and Wikileakes has only been in open operation since 2007 which is a remarkable achievement. I think western government intelligence agencies need to back off a bit and give them space.

    Otherwise they may all be assassinated and that wouldn’t be of any use at all.

  20. sprout asks “What do you see as the dangers Photonz1?”

    The potential dangers are many.

    Like the ramping up of tensions between countries, which is more likely to bring countries closer to war.

    Damaging relationships between friendly countries and allies.

    Potentially giving very useful information to terrorist organisations, and unfriendly countries.

    Causing mistrust between all countries.

    Wikileaks is effectively political tittle tattle – gossip for diplomats. There’s probably barely a person on the planet who wouldn’t be embarrassed if the communications they intended to be private were published for all to see.

    If there is something that is seriously in the public interest to publish, then the leaks might do some good.

    But if the main purpose of many of the leaks is primarily to embarrass people, then the motovation needs to be questioned.

    And of course the great irony is that many people who have previously been strongly against interception of private communication are now strongly for publication of private information.

  21. Photonz1-Admittedly I haven’t seen all of the leaks but those that have been published should only cause red faces as the US is revealed as a subversive manipulator of international affairs. This revelation will only confirm what many people had already thought and may even stop a repeat of what happened in Iraq. The US has a long history of interfering in other countries’ affairs and manipulating political outcomes. These leaks may reveal some future plans and force their Secretary of State and Government to use proper diplomacy.

    What do you see as the dangers Photonz1?

  22. @dbuckley 10:31 AM

    Not just about exposing liars, but also about exposing apologists for corruption:

    Having exhausted the topic of Kyrgyzstan, [the Duke of York] turned to the general issue of promoting British economic interests abroad. He railed at British anti-corruption investigators, who had had the “idiocy” of almost scuttling the Al-Yamama deal with Saudi Arabia. (NOTE: The Duke was referencing an investigation, subsequently closed, into alleged kickbacks a senior Saudi royal had received in exchange for the multi-year, lucrative BAE Systems contract to provide equipment and training to Saudi security forces. END NOTE.) His mother’s subjects seated around the table roared their approval. He then went on to “these (expletive) journalists, especially from the National Guardian, who poke their noses everywhere” and (presumably) make it harder for British businessmen to do business.

  23. dbuckley – sorry – I lumped your comments in with sprouts whih was maybe a bit harsh.

    However none of us have any idea of what’s even in the documents, let alone what effect they will have yet.

    Yes – there will be good and bad, but the truth is none of us know how much of each will come out.

    Any guess is nothing more than wild speculation based the effect of 249,750 documents, despite having no idea of what their subject is, what they say, what nationality they are, and who said it.

  24. No photonz. My position is not ideolgical, if you’d been paying attention you’ll know I don’t suffer from ideology; I march to the beat of my own drum.

    I don’t think there is “no problem”, and I accept there is risk (probably quite significant risk) in this process; I used the word “danger” in my post, which is a long way away from “no problem”. However, I think that on a balance of probabilities of what little (and it is very little) we know so far that there will be more “good” comes out of this than “bad”, and more than that, the “bad” will fall on those it deserves to fall on.

    The leaks are about exposing liars: Liars will then have to account for their lies to the people who pay their salaries and placed them in a position of representing them. I think that is democracy in action.

  25. dbuckley says “I think that this release is a really good thing, even despite the dangers that such a release may create”

    sprout says “I cannot see any danger to innocent people through Wikileak’s actions”

    So after reading the 250,000 documents not all released yet, finding out who the people are who are involved, you’ve come to the educated conclusion that there is no problem? Amazing.

    Or is that just a good example of coming to a conclusion based on your ideology rather than based on evidence?

    I think there will be some really good aspects to come out of the leaks.

    But there is huge potential for catestrophic effects as well. If the can of worms is opened, truth is no one really knows what the potential far reaching effects will be.

    There is likely to be some really good info for terrorist groups.

    And there is high potential from ramping up tensions with unstable countries like Iran which could make attacks or even war far more likely than it was previously.

    No doubt there will be some good aspects from the leaks, but to rule out potential negative effects without even the slightest idea of what the 250,000 documents contain is really blinkered thinking.

  26. The sad thing is that leaked documents often reveal what many people believed was happening but was staunchly denied. I cannot see any danger to innocent people through Wikileak’s actions, just some battered and bruised reputations of some whose high moral ground will be somewhat lower.

  27. Yep drak, but I’m still a bit grumpy that Wikileaks has to date released only 220 documents, which is less than 0.1% of the total they have.

    I know that releasing 257,287 documents in one day is information overload and would result in the significance of many being missed.

    But surely they could do better than just 220 in the first day (and none from the US Embassy in Wellington yet)!

    At this rate Iran may have been nuked to oblivion before they or we see the last of them.

  28. Well all I can say is that Julian Assange is a hero!!!! And so is his Wikileakes staff.

    keep it up folks!!!!

    There may be a lot of contradictions as to what really is and what we hear on the corporate media.

    I mean who is the real villain on the Korea front North or South? Who are the realvillians in the middle east? Palistine or Israel?

    Information like this may totally change peoples perception of the political world.

  29. Where theres smoke.. theres usually fire or even a huge blaze ?

    What else are ‘our politicians’ keeping from, ‘we the people ?’


  30. Although I’ve yet to read any of this stuff, after a period of deliberation, I think that this release is a really good thing, even despite the dangers that such a release may create.

    These documents provide insights into what our governments are actually doing, and not talking publicly about; this will improve transparency, certainly in the short term. Longer term is, or course, another matter.

  31. It was before Waihopai’s time, but the GCSB has been spying on the UN since the 80’s, as revealed by the leak of the GCSB briefing paper with Lange’s papers. Spying on the UN doesn’t seem to be a particularly new thing for US aligned countries.

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