SIS spying on MP's

Below is an article about the spying on MP's by the SIS

Editorial: MPs are not above suspicion

The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 23/03/2009

Green MP Keith Locke should be used to intelligence agencies taking an interest in his activities. One of the Security Intellligence Service's predecessors first opened a file on him in 1955 when he was 10 years old. Nevertheless, Mr Locke is entitled to feel aggrieved about the SIS's scrutiny, The Dominion Post writes.

Mr Locke, the son of well-known communists Elsie and Jack Locke, has a long history of championing dubious causes. Even he admits he was wrong to hail the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

But there is nothing on the public record that shows Mr Locke has ever presented more of a danger to the public than to himself.

The material added to his file since he became an MP in 1999 suggests there is little, if anything, in his private affairs for the public to be concerned about either.

According to Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Justice Paul Neazor, it includes: a note of a discussion he and another MP had with the service, a reference to a parliamentary speech, four newspaper clippings which Judge Neazor found to have no security significance, a document related to an overseas trip taken by the Green MP and the programme of a symposium at which Mr Locke spoke.

Judge Neazor also reported that he had found one "certainly unprofessional" notation that lent weight to Mr Locke's belief that at least some of the material on his file had been gathered because of his critical stance in Parliament towards intelligence issues.

That is a bigger cause for concern than Mr Locke's misplaced sympathies. The SIS has powers denied other organs of the state because of the serious nature of its responsibilities, but it is not entitled to use its resources to gather intelligence for political purposes in this case to embarrass or belittle a critic.

An outraged Mr Locke says the service should be prohibited from holding files on sitting MPs, that there should be no surveillance of MPs, except to support a criminal investigation, and that MPs' communications with constituents a broad concept that encompasses every New Zealand resident for list MPs such as him should be off-limits to the security services.

He goes too far. The SIS may have wasted time and resources monitoring his activities, but there is no reason why MPs should be treated differently from the rest of the population.
As Judge Neazor rightly points out, any regime has to take account of the "unpalatable" possibility that an MP might involve himself in activities that endanger national security.
Judge Neazor's suggestion that the security services be required to seek the permission of Parliament's Speaker before collecting information on MPs strikes the appropriate balance between parliamentary independence and security.

Parliamentarians should be free to go about their duties uninhibited by the security agencies, but the law has to guard against all eventualities.

Mr Locke should consider whether he would want members of an extreme Right-wing organisation given the protections he advocates, should it gain representation in Parliament.

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