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GCSB welcomes Inspector-General's Report

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Director-General of the GCSB Andrew Hampton welcomes the finding by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security that Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) had no direct involvement in the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme 2001 - 2009 and was not complicit in any unlawful conduct.

As part of this investigation the Inspector-General has looked into the GCSB’s role and activities supporting the Cabinet mandated New Zealand deployment to Afghanistan as part of a United Nations mandated international coalition.

"These findings are testament to the professionalism, integrity and good judgement of the GCSB staff who provided intelligence support to New Zealand’s military deployment to Afghanistan," Mr Hampton said.

"I wish to take this opportunity to thank these dedicated men and women for their spirit of service to New Zealand, especially those who were deployed overseas and had to operate in often trying and dangerous circumstances, away from their loved ones for long periods of time."

The Inspector-General acknowledged the performance and judgement of the deployed GCSB staff, finding that the deployed staff performed their roles to the standards required. The report has however identified areas for improvement in the support, training and supervision deployed staff received.

"GCSB staff who go on deployment in support of New Zealand’s military make personal sacrifices to serve their country, and they deserve the best support, guidance and training we can give them."

"Much has changed in the 10 to 15 years since the deployments covered by the Inspector-General’s report," Mr Hampton said.

The Inspector-General states in her report (para 110) "The statutory regime has since changed, the agencies have improved their relevant support and training for staff and both current Directors-General acknowledge their responsibility to ensure compliance with New Zealand law."

"I have met with the GCSB staff who were deployed during this period," Mr Hampton said. "We discussed the Inspector-General’s findings and their experiences and I asked them to give me any further suggestions on how any future guidance and support could be improved."

The legal framework for co-operation between the New Zealand intelligence agencies and those of other countries, including Five Eyes partners, has been completely updated as a result of the Intelligence and Security Act 2017.

"New Zealand gains significant benefit from co-operation with international intelligence partners, especially the Five Eyes," Mr Hampton said. "We get access to intelligence that helps keep New Zealanders safe and secure, that we would not be able to generate by ourselves.

"All co-operation with international intelligence partners is governed by New Zealand law, including human rights obligations."

"I take this responsibility very seriously," said Mr Hampton. "The Director-General of Security and I wrote to the Inspector-General setting out our commitment to upholding human rights and she has included our statement in her report." (pg. 8)

Any cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies now needs to be in accordance with a Ministerial Policy Statement issued by the Minister Responsible for the GCSB and NZSIS. This includes completing human rights assessments of those countries.

The Minister has recently re-issued authorisations for co-operation with our Five Eyes partners based on updated human rights assessments, taking into account the Inspector-General’s recommendations.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is currently reviewing the Ministerial Policy Statement for co-operation with foreign intelligence agencies and the Inspector-General’s useful recommendations are being considered as part of this process.

The Inspector-General has identified a small number of intelligence reports held on GCSB systems that contain information from the CIA which may have been gained through the detention and interrogation programme. The Inspector-General has recommended a process for assessment and documentation of these reports before they are disposed of or sealed.

"In line with the Inspector-General’s recommendations GCSB has made sure these reports are no longer available for use while we work through the process she has recommended," Mr Hampton said.

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