Clinton’s mysterious comment raises eyebrows in New Zealand

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

A comment by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton following a meeting with a senior New Zealand government official has raised questions by intelligence observers in the pacific nation. Speaking last Friday after an official meeting in Washington with her New Zealand counterpart, minister of foreign affairs Murray McCully, Clinton said the US “very much” values its diplomatic partnership with New Zealand. She then proceeded to say “[w]e are resuming our intelligence-sharing cooperation, which we think is very significant”. This latter comment struck many intelligence observers in Wellington as odd, and for a good reason: nobody was under the impression that the US-NZ intelligence cooperation had been disrupted. The mystery deepened when New Zealand prime minister John Key refused to explain Hillary Clinton’s remark when asked, saying simply “I just don’t comment on issues of national security”. Read more of this post

Lost notebook reveals plans for New Zealand spy agency reshuffle

Nicky Hager

Nicky Hager

Plans for a possible radical reshuffling of New Zealand’s intelligence infrastructure were revealed yesterday, with the discovery of a notebook belonging to a government official. The notebook was dropped on a busy Wellington street by an employee of New Zealand’s Treasury Department, who was returning from a classified presentation on the future of the country’s intelligence agencies. It was recovered by Julian Robins, a political correspondent for Radio New Zealand, who proceeded to reveal the notebook’s contents. According to Robins, the government appears to be seriously considering merging the three separate intelligence agencies, which currently operate on different missions, in order to improve synergy and save money. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0025

  • BREAKING NEWS: Several news outlets are reporting this morning that it was former US vice-President Dick Cheney who ordered the CIA to conceal from Congress key information about a covert action intelligence program of an undisclosed nature. See here for more.
  • New book claims Ernest Hemingway was KGB agent. The new book Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (Yale University Press), co-written by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, alleges that the Nobel prize-winning novelist was on the KGB’s list of agents in America from 1941, when he was given the codename “Argo” by the Soviets.
  • Thousands of former Stasi spies still working in German civil service. A report in the German edition of The Financial Times claims that over 17,000 former members of East Germany’s Stasi remain employed as civil servants in reunified Germany. Stasi is the name commonly used for the Ministry for State Security, communist East Germany’s secret police.
  • NSA director’s secret visit to New Zealand revealed. A reporter accidentally spotted Lieutenant-General Keith Alexander, director of the US National Security Agency, entering a Wellington building accompanied by security personnel. The revelation prompted a spokesperson at the US embassy in Wellington to admit that Alexander was indeed in New Zealand “for consultations with government officials”. The close signals intelligence relationship between the US and New Zealand have been known since 1996.
  • Chinese national caught trying to purchase crypto hardware. Chi Tong Kuok was arrested by the FBI at the Atlanta International Airport en route from Paris to Panama, where he allegedly planned to purchase US military radios. The US government claims Kuok has admitted he was “acting at the direction of officials for the People’s Republic of China”.
  • Taliban say cell phone SIM cards guide US drone strikes. A Taliban circular says SIM cards planted by informants in cell phones used by militants are used to signal American drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As IntelNews recently explained, there are suspicions that this and similar discoveries are gradually prompting the Taliban and al-Qaeda to stop using cell phones altogether.

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Groundbreaking book on international spying now online

Nicky Hager’s groundbreaking book Secret Power: New Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network, is now freely available as an eBook on the writer’s personal website. The book, originally published in 1996, first revealed the existence of the UK-USA Security Agreement (reportedly also known as AUSCANZUKUS) a peculiar intelligence-sharing arrangement between the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which has existed since World War II. Secret Power focused on New Zealand’s role in the agreement and also documented the US-managed ECHELON, a signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network that serves as an intelligence-sharing platform between the UK-USA signatories. Hager, who is widely considered to be New Zealand’s leading investigative journalist, has written several books since Secret Power, including Secrets and Lies and The Hollow Men. His personal website is available here.

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