New Zealand should immediately suspend the transfer of data intercepted by the Waihopai spy base to the US National Security Agency following revelations it could be being used for illegal purposes, Green Party Security and Intelligence Spokesperson Keith Locke says.
US President George W Bush has admitted that he ordered the NSA to electronically eavesdrop without warrants on Americans. The revelation of this domestic spy program has led several Democrat and Republican Senators to vote against reauthorising the USA Patriot Act. Waihopai is part of the NSA-run Echelon communications intelligence network.
“Morally, we can’t continue to send the NSA communications intercepted at Waihopai when we know that their contents will be used illegally by the Bush Administration,” Mr Locke says.
“President Bush has admitted he is using the NSA to spy on American citizens — and some of that information will be coming from the millions of phone calls, faxes and emails drawn down daily into the two dishes at Waihopai near Blenheim.
“We also have to ask if New Zealand citizens are being spied upon. If American citizens are now fair game — without surveillance warrants being required — then why not New Zealand citizens?
“Our NSA-equivalent, the Government Communications Security Bureau, is not supposed to spy on New Zealanders. Yet New Zealand has no real control over the NSA ‘dictionary’ of thousands of key word combinations that determine which communications intercepted at Waihopai are forwarded to the United States.
“So far New Zealand’s Government has relied on American goodwill not to use the data gathered at Waihopai to spy on Kiwis. This is no longer valid. George Bush now thinks he is above the law and can use the NSA in an arbitrary way. Clearly, New Zealanders are no longer safe from NSA spying.
“Our Government should suspend sending the NSA data from Waihopai while the implications of the US President’s statements are investigated,” Mr Locke says.