INDEPENDENT NEWS

Locke calls for inquiry into SIS

Published: Mon 4 Aug 2003 10:32 AM
Locke calls for inquiry into SIS
Green MP Keith Locke is calling for an inquiry into the way the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) gathers and presents information, in the wake of damning independent criticism of the way it "sexed-up" evidence against Ahmed Zaoui.
The Refugee Status Appeals Authority, which granted refugee status to Mr Zaoui on Friday, levelled stinging criticism of the evidence submitted by the SIS about the Algerian's background.
"The Authority's report shows a shocking level of incompetence and bias in the SIS's intelligence gathering operations and a naïve trust in what it is told by journalists and overseas agencies," said Keith Locke, the Green Security and Intelligence spokesperson.
"It found that much of what the SIS submitted as 'fact' consisted 'solely of unsourced extracts from various news reports with no attempt to excise opinion from fact.'
"The Service, in some ways, acted as a propaganda agency for a repressive Algerian regime which admits to having killed 20,000 people. It has repeated fabrications about Mr Zaoui being a leader the Armed Islamic Group, and relayed evidence gained under torture.
"This is not about Mr Zaoui any more. Clearly he is not a terrorist. This is about an agency whose bumbling and doubtful political agenda is putting the future of New Zealanders at risk.
"Immigrants, asylum-seekers and many, many New Zealanders who apply for senior positions in the public service or security-sensitive jobs are vetted by the SIS. How much trust can we have in the findings of an agency that is so ready to accept at face value information provided about people by overseas agencies?
"How many people have been refused jobs or promotion on the basis of rumour and anecdotes, taken as gospel by the SIS?
"In Britain, Tony Blair and his spin doctor Alistair Campbell have had their 'proof' that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction unmasked as a lie. The parallel with our SIS is obvious.
"Our security service should not be able to get away with selectively presenting crude cut-and-paste evidence that will help determine the future of those who live here and those who wish to live here," Keith Locke said.
Now that the SIS's incompetence and bias has been revealed, nothing less than a full, independent inquiry into its operations will suffice to restore any confidence in it."

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