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IWCNZ Appreciates The Release Of The Arotake Report. Many Outstanding Questions About NZSIS Need To Be Answered.

23 March 2021

IWCNZ appreciates the release
of the Arotake Report. While it’s a positive move towards
transparency, it reinforces that there are many outstanding
questions that need to be answered about the systems and
processes within the New Zealand Security Intelligence
Services (NZSIS).

This was an internal investigation,
in that the terms of reference were set by the Director of
the NZSIS, and the review was carried out by a member of a
Five Eyes partner. Given that New Zealand has defense and
security relationships with Five Eyes partners, this is not
a fully independent review. Any failure of the NZSIS would
also reflect badly on the partners who were providing
intelligence and tools to New Zealand.

The Director of
the NZSIS is appearing before the Intelligence and Security
Select Committee tomorrow. IWCNZ is providing some of the
questions that she needs to address:

  • How was the
    business decision made to prioritise Islamist extremist
    terrorism, and what informed that decision? How is a
    prioritisation decision translated from high-level to
    mid-level to lower levels?
  • Since issuance of this
    report, what have the SIS done to adapt their system? What
    are they doing to ensure, until a new system is built, that
    there will not be anything lost in translation from high
    level to mid-level to lower levels?
  • There are white
    supremacists and also misogynist threats. How can we be sure
    that these threats are being addressed?
  • This Arotake
    report was not an internal investigation, it was a learning
    or sharing project as no-one was required to participate.
    Anyone who had controversial information could have withheld
    it. The reviewer conducted a database search but the report
    states that they can’t guarantee they got everything.
    Intelligence officers are officers of this nation, why did
    they get to choose to participate in this
  • The report revealed that an extensive
    array of unique identifiers attributable to the Christchurch
    terrorist were discovered post the attacks. They were
    already in existence prior to the terrorist attack, so what
    impeded their discovery before the attack
  • They knew of the terrorist’s travel in
    and out of NZ, but found it unremarkable. He went to North
    Korea, Myanmar, Serbia, Bosnia, Pakistan, and Peru, amongst
    other countries. He spent quite a bit of time in these
    places, and it’s difficult to understand why this travel
    was unremarkable. Why wouldn’t this range of countries
    trigger questioning upon arrival?

Having only
received the report midday Monday, it needs further analysis
by experts and there will be further questions. We look
forward to a full response at the Intelligence and Security
Select Committee and we will be listening with keen interest
to her

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