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Thursday, February 28, 2008

SIS breaks new ground in outlining New Zealand threats


SIS breaks new ground in outlining New Zealand threats
Investigations into home-grown security threats have appeared in the annual report of the Security Intelligence Service for the first time since anti-terrorism efforts were increased after September 2001. In the agency's annual report, new director Warren Tucker said that while most terrorism happened on the other side of the world, "the service must not relax its vigilance". The report also shows an increase in the number of reports on "threat-related issues" by the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG), which did 212 reports on threat-related issues last year, compared to 144 the year before. The group is made up of the SIS, police, Government Communications Security Bureau, defence intelligence and border officials and was set up in 2004.

This last part is the interesting bit, why the sudden increase in threats being assessed by CTAG? Was it the Urewera Terrorists? That was the major issue of last year, did the heads of our security forces really greenlight action to try out the TSA and the Prime Minister as the head of the SIS MUST have been informed by the SIS representative on CTAG. Who would have thought activists playing silly buggers and mouthing off with guns would give the spooks the excuses they need to erode our civil liberties.

6 Comments:

At 29/2/08 3:48 pm, Anonymous Paul G. Buchanan said...

Actually, there has been one recent instance of the SIS focusing on so-called "internal" threats. The 2005 SIS report emphasised the potential terrorist threat posed by "home-grown" jihadis such as those who conducted the London and Madrid bombings. That report, written by former Director-General Richard Woods (of Zaoui case fame), was virtually reversed by the 2006 report (the first signed by Warren Tucker, who is the former head of the GCSB), which dropped the "home-grown" jihadi alarm entirely and re-directed empahsis on countering foreign intelligence-gathering operations in and around NZ soil (mostly by the PRC, although it is not mentioned directly).
What is interesting in the 2007 report is not so much the range of internal investigations. After all, the SIS is chartered to engage in internal as well as external espionage, along with counter-intelligence operations. What is interesting is the role that CTAG played. Ostensibly a forum in which representatives of various security and intelligence agencies (and departments) assess potential threats based upon the collective wisdom derived from the sharing of different perspectives, here CTAG appears to have provided official cover to a politically manipulated attempt to "try on" the TSA against a group of political marginals with little real chance--or intention--of carrying out anything more than rhetorical and symbolic assaults on the political and military status quo. If indeed CTAG fell prey to political manipulation, then the whole point of having an inter-agency intelligence-sharing clearing house is moot. As for the SIS giving a political spin to intelligence reports: its history tells the story. That the Prime Minister is also the Minister of Intelligence and Security (and thus Minister to whom both CTAG and the SIS report) virtually guarantees that political criteria will continue to intrude upon independent and autonomous inetlligence analysis and assessment.
Whatever the specific focus of individual annual reports, we can be confident that Maori radicals, environmentalists, anarchists and foreign intelligence operations are not the only targets of the SIS internal surveillence web.

 
At 29/2/08 8:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul

I've got a little confused over CTAG. When I was in the Army we got offered to go for CTTAG (if you really had no home life).
Are these different things?
Does co-operation in CTAG bring a fluidity where SIS are operating as domestic police?

And any co-incident Woods DG of the SIS is now in charge of ERMA. Greenies scared!

 
At 29/2/08 8:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoops that was to read Greenies be Scared.

 
At 29/2/08 9:50 pm, Anonymous Paul G. Buchanan said...

Anon 29/2/8:30:

Sorry for the typos in my comment.

As it turns out, after 9-11 the Army created a unit called CTTAG that was supposedly charged with counter-terrorism operations, mostly within New Zealand (which is somewhat alarming in and of itself). This unit was to work closely with the Police counter-terrorism and armed offenders squads in conducting operations against terrorists, again, primarily on NZ soil (presumably CTTAG could have deployed in places where there is a joint NZ police/military presence such as Timor Leste and the Solomons).

CTTAG was derided as "NZSAS lite" because the training standards were not SAS level. The reason CTTAG was created was because the NZSAS is charged with foreign recon and combat duties that keep its members pretty busy overseas. Thus CTTAG was designed to add a military edge to police counter-terrorism operations at home. As far as I know, it did not get off the ground and may not exist anymore.

CTAG is an upper-level inter-ministerial, predominantly civilian intelligence sharing clearing house.

I have no clue whether former ambassador and SIS director general Richard Woods is involved with ERMA, but if he is, be assured that he will respond to the dictates of his political masters. The Greens are not the only ones to have reason to be concerned.

Thank you for your response.

PGB

 
At 29/2/08 10:23 pm, Blogger sdm said...

Paul

See todays herald

Ex-spy boss hunts environmental bugs
7:00AM Friday February 29, 2008

Former spy boss Richard Woods is to start keeping out unwanted bugs instead of undesirable people.

The former Security Intelligence Service chief executive has been appointed chairman of the Environmental Risk Management Agency.

He begins a three-year term on April 11 and replaces Neil Walter.

 
At 1/3/08 12:50 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul I can confirm CTTAG is still going. It's no secret & still recruiting within the NZDF.
They'ld preffer to see themselves as a feeder unit to the SAS than lite but I'm sure they can take a joke err.

 

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