GCSB was “acted without ministerial approval” but “Is a very different agency now” after expose of SIGINT hosting

…so they say. The story has been all over the MSM and is a “historical event”, but what is still going on under cover? And who is the “foreign agency” who the GCSB hosted? The US? China? Even though the hosting is now public knowledge the details are still secret.

Here at Uncensored we’d rather cut through the MSM hype and get down to the bare bones.

Here’s an excerpt from the IGIS (Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Brendan Horsley) report:

In 2012 the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB or the Bureau) agreed to
host a signals intelligence system deployed by a foreign agency (“the capability”) and take
part in a wider intelligence programme related to this capability. The capability involved:
13.1. GCSB hosting partner-supplied and controlled hardware in a GCSB facility;
13.2. the capability selecting and transmitting certain signals, collected by GCSB under
authorisation, to the partner agency through the hardware; and
13.3. the transmitted signals being analysed, in combination with other information, to
produce intelligence that could help find remote targets.
The capability operated from 2013 until 2020, when it was stopped by an equipment
After its installation, senior GCSB staff and the Bureau’s legal team lost sight of the
capability and its operation. It was “rediscovered” at a senior level following concerns being
raised in 2020 about another partner system hosted by GCSB.
In late 2020, the Bureau alerted me to the existence of the capability and highlighted
potential concerns about whether it had been operating unauthorised. The GCSB advised
me that it was investigating the matter. GCSB leadership also directed that the system not
resume operating.
From its investigation the GCSB found that the capability had been installed under a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed between the Bureau and the foreign
partner agency. There was no indication, however, that the Minister responsible for the
GCSB had been briefed on the system, or asked to approve it. The MOU had a clause
requiring it to be reviewed within 24 months and every three years thereafter, but this had
not been done.
The Bureau concluded, however, that at the time of its report the operation of the
capability was authorised by an intelligence warrant issued in 2020. The application for the
warrant had not mentioned the capability, because those responsible for the application
were not aware of it, but the Bureau considered that its operation nevertheless fell within
the scope of the warrant.
I was concerned that the Bureau had apparently decided to host in New Zealand a signals
intelligence system controlled by a foreign partner agency without seeking ministerial
approval and without subsequently informing its minister of the system’s existence or
purpose. I was concerned also that the Bureau’s current senior leadership and legal team
apparently knew nothing of the system until it was brought to their attention in 2020.

Full report: FINAL-Inquiry-into-GCSBs-hosting-of-a-foreign-capability.pdf (igis.govt.nz)

Here’s the GCSB’s response to the revelation:

Response to IGIS report on GCSB hosting of a foreign capability

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) accepts the recommendations of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) report into the GCSB’s previous hosting of a foreign capability.

While the report notes that at the time the GCSB undertook a reasonably robust investigation into the capability and the potential issues with hosting it, the GCSB accepts there were some failings in the decision making processes that followed, particularly not informing the Minister responsible of the day, and the subsequent management of its operation.

The GCSB was first identified in 2009 as a potential site to host the capability, the details of which remain classified. It operated from 2013 until 2020 when the GCSB self-reported the capability to the IGIS.

The capability began operating prior to the significant change and modernisation programme that the GCSB has undertaken in recent years.  This was in response to the well documented matters the GCSB was experiencing at that time, such as the compliance issues highlighted in the 2013 Kitteridge report and several changes in leadership. 

As the IGIS report notes, the GCSB’s operations, governance, legal mandate, policies and compliance systems have changed significantly since then.  The GCSB has transformed the sophistication of its administrative systems, and today operates under more rigorous statutory requirements, including a new authorisation regime. The GCSB’s audit, compliance, record keeping and legal systems have also been transformed, and the oversight of the office of the IGIS has also developed substantially. 

The IGIS report also notes the GCSB (and NZSIS) now operate under a Joint Policy Statement in International Agreements and Arrangements, which sits alongside a Ministerial Policy Statement on Overseas cooperation [PDF, 233 KB].

“The GCSB is a very different organisation today,” Director-General Andrew Clark said.

“Since I joined the Bureau in late 2023/five months ago I have looked carefully at how it fulfils its requirements in terms of compliance, relevant legislation, human rights and oversight.

“The GCSB exists to protect and enhance New Zealand’s national security, and our international partnerships play a significant part in how we fulfil our mission. It is important that we have effective processes in place that enable us to do our job in accordance with all our obligations.

We welcome the robust and independent oversight of the Inspector-General and the assurance the office provides in helping maintain public trust and confidence in the work we do, which is often carried out in secret.

“We are continually looking to improve how we work. While this IGIS report examines what could be described as a historical issue, its recommendations will nonetheless help us further refine our current processes that ensure we act with propriety in everything we do.”

Response to IGIS report on GCSB hosting of a foreign capability | Government Communications Security Bureau

Good grief, what a waffly excuse. “We’ve been very naughty but we promise we’ll try hard to be good from now on” would sum it up nicely!

I would hazard a guess that the US would most likely be the “foreign partner” as China is obviously not a part of “Five Eyes” and surely the GCSB wouldn’t be so traitorous as to allow the CCP access to our security intelligence network….would it?

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Martin Harris

I have a lovely partner and 3 very active youngsters. We live in the earthquake ravaged Eastern Suburbs of Christchurch, New Zealand. I began commenting/posting on Uncensored back in early 2012 looking for discussion and answers on the cause and agendas relating to our quakes. I have always maintained an interest in ancient mysteries, UFOs, hidden agendas, geoengineering and secret societies and keep a close eye on current world events. Since 2013 I have been an active member of theCONTrail.com community, being granted admin status and publishing many blogs and discussion threads. At this time I'm now helping out with admin and moderation duties here at Uncensored where my online "life" began.

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