Rob Hosking at NBR on spying

So.?It seems we have a spying agency which, we learned today, spies on foreigners.

If anyone is surprised, let alone shocked, by this, they really are too gentle a soul for this cruel world.

Spying on foreigners is pretty much what comes on the label when you set up a spying agency. It?s what they do.

Unless you thought David Lange’s Labour government set up the Government Communications Security Bureau to run the country?s pest destruction boards, or to play Farmville on their neat new computers, what on earth did you think the agency has been doing?

The fact GCSB is spying on ?friends?? First, those friends have some rather dubious friends and matters such as money laundering of criminal and terrorist activity are key parts of law enforcement these days.

Remember when one of our “friends” performed a state sanctioned act of terrorism in New Zealand by blowing the Rainbow Warrior up? ?

More importantly ? and this is where activist Nicky Hager both has a point and misses another one ? countries do not really have ?friends.?

The classic framework of foreign policy ? outlined by Victorian era British statesman Lord Salisbury ??is that countries do not have permanent friends, only permanent interests.

For a lot of reasons, it is very much in New Zealand?s interests to be keeping an eye on what governments in the Pacific are up to.

This is partly for the reasons mentioned above and also because of movements by other governments to extend their influence in the region.

If the GCSB was not keeping an eye on them, it would be a massive dereliction of duty. It would have been a much more important story than the one making such a splash this morning.

There has been a huge push from Bradbury, Dotcom, Harre, Harewira, Minto, Norman, Turei and (depending on the audience), the Labour Party, to undermine, expose or altogether neuter the GCSB. ?This is so monumentally stupid, it is hard to believe they are serious beyond this causing trouble for the government.

And, of course, it has been a known for years the GCSB has been doing so: the fact leaked out nearly a decade ago, again via the industrious Mr Hager.

Finally, technological advances mean the ability of everyone ? governments, individuals, companies, crime syndicates, non-government agencies, you name it ? to spy on everyone else is growing with every new computer chip manufactured.

The idea the New Zealand government should somehow take the equivalent of a vow of chastity in this area is not just silly, it is plain deluded.

Well, doesn’t stop the NZ Herald using its vast resources to drive a wedge into the government’s side and assist Hager in trying to destablise the country.

The unspoken assumption of Mr Hager and his excitable supporters seems to be that New Zealand?s GCSB is under some sort of obligation to not do what everyone else ? government, citizen, criminal, lobbyist, activist ? can do.

That is just silly.

As others have noted, it’s election time again. ?And every time it’s election time, Mr Hager dusts off the next wad of stolen documents and manages to leverage his eager friends in the media for another side-show.

Dirty Politics didn’t work in the sense that it didn’t damage the government – it bolstered it.

If the NZ Herald and Hager think the latest round of election influencing is going?to go their way, the NZ Herald’s own readers no less have already delivered the verdict: