Recently, the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key took a trip to Washington, which included a secret (read: undeclared) trip to the National Security Agency headquarters. This trip seems to have generated new interest in New Zealand’s membership to Five Eyes, some of which has talked about New Zealand being welcomed back into the fold back in 2009 – a fold that also includes West Zealand (a.k.a Australia), Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Whilst the exact reasons for New Zealand’s some two decade absence are hazy, it is worth remembering that in 1984 then-Prime Minister David Lange barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using NZ ports or entering NZ waters, and this was succeeded by the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987.
[Bonus: If interested check out journalist Toby Manhire’s take (read:opinion piece) on the briefing for POTUS (President of the United States) written in the lead up to the official leader meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister John Key].
Initially, the Five Eyes provided signal intelligence, but they have since extended to include human intelligence and defense intelligence. The origins of the Five Eyes can be traced back to World War II and in particular to the plans of five (yes, you heard it hear first: five) nations regarding the post-war world. Where some call constant vigilance the price of freedom, Anna Crowe speaks of documentations revealed by Edward Snowden highlighting New Zealand’s active role and in its light she questions whether Five Eyes is something wee New Zealand wants a part of. A part that has seen contribution from New Zealand’s own intelligence agencies, including the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) providing signal intelligence. Now, the scandal involving Kim Dotcom and the GCSB might be quite fresh in the minds of some Kiwis – ah, all that trouble with aged-off information, or was the information simply meant to be archived? Does this sound familiar? It should, there has been a bit of a kerfuffle in the USA recently regarding the IRS, an audit and some lost emails – more on this from my partner in crime in The IRS Scandal to Date (as at June 21st 2014).