Intelligence Sources Say SIS
By Selwyn Manning – Scoop Co-Editor [Abridged]
Thursday, 11 November
2004, 10:22 pm
Scoop Exclusive: Intelligence
sources have revealed the New Zealand Security Intelligence
Service (SIS) has launched a major covert operation
investigating the Maori Party, co-leader
Tariana Turia, its members,
networks and associates. Intelligence information came to
light on Monday November 1st amidst speculation that
political fallout from an inquiry into John Tamihere’s
taxation affairs could have resulted in his resignation not
only from Cabinet but also from Parliament. The later event
would have forced a by-election in his Tamaki Makaurau
Spies blow whistle on
ww.sundaystartimes.co.nz SUNDAY, 21 NOVEMBER
By ANTHONY HUBBARD and NICKY HAGER [Abridged]
A group of dissident spies has launched
SIS, saying it has misused its powers by bugging law-abiding Maori for
political intelligence. The SIS's Operation Leaf, they say, has
used to find "dirt" on individuals, and intelligence about iwi
divisions, finances and Treaty claims. Now they question the service's
leadership and strategy.
Spies have never before broken ranks in New Zealand. Now three have
done so and say they have evidence of a scandal. Their claim that the
SIS has bugged "decent, law-abiding New
Zealanders" has been made many times by liberal and left-wing
activists. But now, for the first time, the accusation comes from
within the intelligence community. Their testimony also shows
disagreements about the SIS' strategy and
its operation, and about its handling of major issues such as the Zaoui
affair. Some also criticise the leadership of SIS director Richard
Woods. This, too, is unprecedented news from inside the castle. It
seems not all is well in the kingdom of secrets.
"Peter", one of the spies interviewed in an Asian capital, said he
broke the SIS code of silence because he felt guilty. His work on
Operation Leaf - a widespread bugging operation against
Maori individuals and organisations - had been a burden on his
conscience and he felt "cleansed" by speaking about it. He seemed in
conflict about his role as whistle-blower. On the one
hand, he remains a "loyal New Zealander" and a supporter of the
service. But he says he was disgusted when told to bug ordinary people.
He offered to apologise to the Maori whose computers he had targeted.
He had grown up in the area, he explained, and had friends in the Maori
community. Remarkably, the people whose computers he claims to have
bugged agreed to co-operate with the newspaper and not to divulge his
real name. The iwi organisation allowed the newspaper to do a thorough
search of its accounts and computer records. Invoices and diary entries
provided a paper trail of all Peter's work on home and office computers
over three years...
The claims about Operation Leaf raise acute issues of accountability.
SIS operatives have been involved in infiltration of Maori gangs as
part of a campaign against organised crime. But Peter says the net was
spread much more widely: well beyond legitimate targets suspected of
sedition. He believes there is potential for Maori groups to be
The three spies seem cynical about SIS accountability systems.
all attempts to call spies to account through parliamentary committees
or watchdogs like New Zealand's inspector-general of security had
failed. Secrecy could not co-exist with accountability...
There is also division about the orientation and leadership of the
which he says is far too deferential to the larger western intelligence
agencies, especially the Americans and the British...
One of the operatives says the SIS told him to start an email
correspondence with Maori activist Whititera Kaihau, a leader
Ngati Te Ata tribe of Manukau...
The spies claim that the SIS targeted politicians and those active
the Maori Party. Peter says he was told by the SIS to cultivate a
MP. Another intelligence source says he was told in mid-2002 that
another Maori MP was a "hot target" - SIS jargon for someone being
bugged. Maori Party leader Tariana Turia,
interviewed by the
cast no light on the matter. However, she did say that in about March
this year she had had trouble with the phone in her ministerial
house... When allegations surfaced on the Scoop website that the Maori
been bugged, Richard Woods had spoken to Turia twice, once on the phone
and once in person, assuring her the allegations were untrue. He also
told her that he had spoken to Prime Minister Helen Clark and
she had issued her statement calling the claims "laughable".
"I said, 'Well, I hope it is laughable, Richard'," Turia said. She had
accepted his assurances.
Citizens targeted by SIS
says paper's spy story 'a work of fiction'
www.sundaystartimes.co.nz SUNDAY, 21 NOVEMBER
By ANTHONY HUBBARD and NICKY HAGER [Abridged]
The SIS has been involved in a widespread
and probably unlawful
campaign to infiltrate and bug Maori organisations, three spies have
told the Sunday Star-Times. They provided a detailed
description of a top-secret programme called
Operation Leaf, a major SIS campaign targeting a variety of Maori
organisations and individuals over several years...
The Star-Times' six-week investigation of the spy claims has taken us
to Australia and Asia, where the men were interviewed. Their
allegations suggest the SIS is going well beyond its
role which allows it to spy on New Zealanders when the country's
security is at stake through terrorism, espionage, sabotage and
attempts to overthrow the government by force.
A week ago, when hints of the SIS Maori spying story leaked to the
Scoop news website, Prime Minister Helen Clark responded that "any
rational reading" of the NZSIS Act showed the suggestion was
"laughable". She pointed out the act prohibited the SIS from
out surveillance of anyone "engaged in lawful advocacy, protest or
dissent". When told this newspaper had carried out an extended
declined an interview, saying through a spokesperson that she never
commented on security matters...
Clark is the minister in charge of the SIS and signs all
interception warrants. However, the operations described in Leaf appear
to have used surveillance techniques that did not require formal
warrants and therefore reporting to the minister and parliament. It is
not clear that Clark would have been informed of the existence or the
scale of Operation Leaf.
One of the three operatives spoken to by the Star-Times says he was
directed to win the confidence of senior people in the Maori community
and to gain access to and bug their computers. Over about three years
he covertly collected "thousands of pages of documents" from the
computers and passed them to his SIS "handler" - a woman called
The operation targeted groups and individuals, from known radicals and
people with criminal records to respected regional leaders, iwi
organisations and Maori politicians...
Until October 1, 2003, SIS operatives could covertly access other
people's computer systems without obtaining a SIS interception warrant.
It is not clear whether warrants were obtained for the Leaf operations
after that date.
The Operation Leaf spies say they were instructed to profile Maori
leaders and gather intelligence on their internal iwi business,
negotiations with government, Waitangi claim processes, inter-tribal
communications and more - as well as keeping an eye out for "dirt".
They were not told whether the intelligence they gathered was passed to
the government or how it was used.
NZ Herald 22.11.2004
Prime Minister Helen Clark has labelled as a "work of fiction" a
newspaper story alleging the Security Intelligence Service improperly
spied on Maori organisations and individuals. She said in Chile at the
Apec summit that SIS director Richard Woods
had told her the articles published in yesterday's Sunday Star-Times
The Sunday Star-Times said the spies
had claimed the Maori Party was
also a target, confirming an earlier report on news website Scoop. Mrs
Turia, who had not believed the earlier Scoop report, said yesterday
that she was stunned by the revelations. She would take legal
today about the legislation governing SIS
activity, and would also discuss the issue with other Maori leaders...
Green list MP Keith Locke backed the call for an inquiry,
saying the allegations showed the SIS was going way beyond its
mandate and was engaged in "political harassment". "The SIS has no
justification in spying on Maori organisations whose only crime is to
disagree with Government policies."
Auckland Council for Civil Liberties president Barry
Wilson said parliamentary oversight of the SIS was inadequate. Parliament's
intelligence and security committee was simply a "rubber stamp" for the
SIS's activities, he said...
Party calls on Inspector General to investigate SIS
Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party
‘I have today, written to the
Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Retired
Judge, Hon. Paul Neazor, to ask him to initiate an immediate
inquiry into the allegations made about the activities of
the Security Intelligence Service’, co-leader of the Maori
Party, Tariana Turia, said today.
‘There are too many
serious questions left unanswered. New Zealanders take for
granted that our freedom to live in an open democracy is a
basic standard of living for our nation’ said Mrs
‘These latest allegations suggest that ordinary New
Zealanders, Maori New Zealanders, are having their basic
human rights infringed upon’.
‘The Prime Minister’s
response that the allegations are a ‘work of fiction’, or
‘laughable’, is not sufficient to allay the concerns of
every-day, decent law-abiding citizens, that they too, will
not run the risk of coming under SIS surveillance if they
join the Maori Party, or happen to belong to an Iwi that
opposes a Government that legitimises theft’ said Mrs
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