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Snowden files: Inside Waihopai's domes
The Waihopai intelligence base looks oddly alien and out of place: huge white "golf ball" radomes like a moon station and silent buildings within two fences of razor wire, all dropped in the midst of vineyards and dry hills in New Zealand's Marlborough landscape.
Documents about the Waihopai station leaked by US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the facility is as alien as is seems.
Everything inside the top secret station except the staff is foreign.
The electronic eavesdropping systems, the computer programmes that automatically index and search the captured communications, and the databases where details of a whole region's communications are stored: they are all standardised parts of the global surveillance system run by the NSA.
The Waihopai base functions as a cog in that spying machine, the alliance's main eye on the South Pacific region.
The Sunday Star-Times analysed the documents in collaboration with US news website The Intercept, which obtained them from Snowden. The leaked files reveal in unprecedented detail the New Zealand-based station's targets, inner workings and links to the international network of spy facilities run by the Five Eyes.
An NSA map shows it is one of a global network of oddly-named satellite interception stations. These stations are the eyes of the Five Eyes alliance.
Australia has a base near Geraldton, a small port city on the west coast of Australia. Its codename is Stellar.
The British station in Oman has the codename Snick. Britain's Kenya base is known as Scapel. Britain also spies on satellites from Carboy, a station in Cornwall, and from a base in Cyprus called Sounder.
The American equivalents of Waihopai are Jackknife in Washington State on the Pacific coast, Timberline in West Virginia and Coraline in Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. The biggest of these is the Moonpenny base in Harrogate, Yorkshire.
The New Zealand station is viewed by the alliance as just another base in its network. It is marked on the map as a "Second Party" site. In the Five Eyes alliance, the US is first party and Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are second parties.
There are also colourful code names - Juggernaut, Legalreptile, and Venusaffect, for example - for the intelligence programmes used inside the Waihopai base.
What do these systems do?
Latentheat breaks the intercepted satellite signals down into individual communications. Legalreptile collects
text messages and call metadata, Semitone targets fax and voice messages, and Surfboard targets landline phones.
Fallowhaunt targets certain satellite communications, Juggernaut processes intercepted calls from mobile phone networks (including voice, fax, data and text messages), and Lopers is used against landline phone calls (public switched telephone networks, PSTN). Xkeyscore is a once top-secret interception programme which has become world-famous since Snowden began his revelations: now it's like a Google for spooks. It processes intercepted internet communications to provide databases of IP addresses, browser history, content and metadata of emails, social media messages and so on.
Each intelligence system produces metadata of all the intercepted communications and makes them available to US and allied intelligence analysts via NSA databases.
Most other equipment and programmes are American. All or nearly all the major surveillance systems at the Waihopai base are US-supplied and could be found identically at the other stations. All the phone calls and Internet communications they intercept and sort at the base then go into NSA databases.
The only difference between this and an NSA base on New Zealand soil is that it is New Zealanders who arrive each day to maintain the NSA surveillance systems.
Sniff it all, collect it all, know it all, process it all and exploit it all - the jocular spyspeak slogans are a perfect summary of a truly global surveillance system.
The Five Eyes alliance is a global digital vacuum cleaner which can scoop up prodigious amounts of information - far more than the human mind can really comprehend.
There was a stiff backlash in Europe after Snowden's revelations showed the scale of surveillance against Western European countries. The German news magazine Der Spiegel revealed that there had been 417 million metadata records (showing who communicated with whom, at what time) collected in Five Eyes surveillance against Germany in 30 days from December 2012 to January 2013.
It listed the top intelligence systems that accounted for about 90 per cent of this total: Xkeyscore collected 182 million records, Lopers 131.5 million records and Juggernaut 93.5m records.
Each of these systems is also used at Waihopai. The Waihopai station is doing exactly the same to Pacific countries as the US and British intelligence agencies were doing to Western European countries.
A 2012 advertisement for a US intelligence analyst job seeks someone with experience with "systems such as Darkquest, Wealthycluster and Xkeyscore". The job, located in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, site of the NSA headquarters, also required knowledge of the Commonground and Venusaffect systems.
These are all systems at Waihopai.
The GCSB documents mention a system called Shadowcat, which was "awaited" at the Waihopai base in 2012. It is a programme developed by the British Five Eyes agency.
The equipment is so standardised, a GCSB staffer told us, that when an overseas NSA station closed, much of its equipment was offered to all the sister stations, including Waihopai.
Five Eyes staff from the different agencies are constantly shuttling around the network. In April 2010, two other NSA staff visited Waihopai on a "technical exchange" from Menwith Hill Station, the world's largest satellite interception base, run by the NSA in the north England countryside near Harrogate.
They briefed staff on the Menwith Hill Station's provocatively named "Collect It All" initiative. This refers to an important expansion of surveillance across the whole global network.
A document called the "NSA's Collection Posture", leaked in a Powerpoint slide by Snowden, outlines the newly expanded system. The first step was "Sniff it All" and refers to "Torus", a complex new antenna system introduced at Waihopai that can intercept several satellites as once to "increase physical access".
The second step was "Know it All" and refers to another programme called Darkquest.
The third step was "Collect it All" aimed at "increasing [the] volume of signals", the goal discussed by the visiting Menwith Hill Station staff.
Fourth was "Process it All", naming Xkeyscore, the NSA system at the heart of the Waihopai intelligence collection.
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Kim Dot Com, perhaps the United States' most-wanted computer geek, once operated the file sharing website 'Mega Upload'. It's estimated that it accounted for up to four per cent of the world's internet traffic. A year ago, however, US authorities had the site shut down, and charged Dot Com with piracy. He managed to escape extradition to the US, and now he's started a new website that allows users to share files - but also to choose who they share them with.
MOSSAD SPY RING UNEARTHED BECAUSE OF NEW ZEALAND EARTHQUAKE
Mossad spy ring 'unearthed because of Christchurch earthquake'
The Israeli secret service Mossad has been accused of conducting an intelligence-gathering operation in New Zealand which was unearthed because of February's Christchurch earthquake.
The operation was interrupted when a van used by a spy cell was crushed by masonry falling from a damaged building, killing one man, it is claimed.
Benyamin Mizrahi, 23, the Israeli man who died in the damaged van, was found to have five passports on his person, the Southland Times newspaper reported.
Three surviving Israelis who were in the van with Mr Mizrahi fled New Zealand within 12 hours, making their way back to Israel.
They reportedly paused only to take photographs of the crushed van and return the dead man’s Israeli passport to officials from their embassy.
The Southland Times also said the police national computer was being audited because of concerns it had been hacked into.
There were fears that other Israeli operatives, in the city after the February 22 quake which killed 181 people, could have embedded malicious software to access intelligence information.
John Key, the New Zealand prime minister, on Thursday confirmed that the government’s Security Intelligence Service had carried out an investigation but he dismissed the concerns.
Speaking during a visit to the United States, Mr Key said the unusual circumstances of the incident were fully investigated and no evidence was found that the people involved were anything other than backpackers.
He said his advice was that the man had only two passports, one of European origin which was found on his body, and the other which his friends had handed in to Israeli officials.
Mr Key said the government took the security of New Zealand and New Zealanders “very seriously”.
“The unusual circumstances which triggered the investigation was the rapid departure from the country of the three surviving members of the group of Israelis in question,” he said.
“Security agencies conducted the investigation and found no evidence that the people were anything other than backpackers,” Mr Key said.
In all, three Israelis died in the magnitude 6.3 earthquake.
Security experts suggested agents for Mossad may have been on an identity theft “trawling” mission for information, so that the passports of unwitting citizens could be cloned.
The false passports would then be used as cover during espionage activities in other parts of the world by Israeli secret agents.
Fred Tulett, editor of the Southland Times, said an “extraordinary” reaction by the Israeli government in the hours after the earthquake had heightened the suspicions of New Zealand’s Security Intelligence Service.
They included the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, made four calls to John Key, his New Zealand counterpart, on the day of the earthquake.
Shemi Tzur, Israel’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, travelled from his base in Australia to Christchurch, where he visited the temporary morgue set up to cope with earthquake victims.
Meanwhile, Israel’s defence chief also flew to the earthquake-ravaged city.
In a further move, a search and rescue team arrived in Christchurch from Israel, but the squad’s offer of help was rejected by New Zealand authorities because it did not have the necessary United Nations accreditation.
Despite that rejection, members of the Israeli team were confronted by armed New Zealand officers after being discovered in the badly damaged sealed off “red zone” of the city centre, the Southland Times said.
The Israeli government later sent a forensic team to help authorities identify the dead.
The paper said New Zealand officials became alarmed when intelligence information was collated and it was realised that the Israeli forensic team had been given access to the police national database to help with identification work.
The paper quoted an unnamed intelligence officer as saying it would take only moments for a USB drive to be inserted into a police computer terminal and loaded with a program allowing remote backdoor access to the database.
A police spokesman later said: “We are confident that our data and network were not compromised during the Christchurch Earthquake response or subsequently.”
Mr Tzur, the Israeli ambassador, said it was “science fiction” to believe that any Mossad agents had been involved.
NEW ZEALAND HOMOSEXUAL EX-PRINCIPAL TOLD TO GO AND HANG HIMSELF
Former school principal Richard Joel was told to hang himself after being sentenced for historic child sexual abuse.
Two former pupils he had repeatedly molested yelled out the words as Joel, 62, was led from the dock at Wellington District Court after being jailed for four years and nine months yesterday.
Joel had pleaded guilty to 16 charges of indecent assault and inducing boys under 16 to do indecent acts. He had abused one boy for each of the first seven years of a four-decade-long teaching career.
They were aged between seven and 12 years – and one nine-year-old went on to become a convicted paedophile.
In his victim impact statement, that man, now 45, described Joel as his role model. He said he was infatuated but after, being discarded by the teacher, hated being male.
"Evil was how I feel my life became after I met Richard Joel ... my life may have been so much more ... "
Another victim, now 44, recalled being confused when he was abused as a 10-year-old but was afraid to tell anyone because he came from a poor family and felt he would be called a liar.
The Wellington man said the experience had left him with depression and intimacy problems and had tainted his view of Europeans.
"I was shocked, I burst into tears when police came to my home. Since that day I can't stop crying, I couldn't believe [the sexual abuse] was out in the open."
Defence lawyer Shane Robinson told the court that Joel was remorseful and had no previous convictions.
The damage he had done had to be weighed against the positive contribution he made to the lives of many other children, he said.
The teacher had worked at Corinna School in Porirua, Waitangirua Intermediate and Newlands Intermediate and was principal of Rewa Rewa School in Newlands when he was arrested in October.
Mr Robinson said Joel had suffered a "a significant fall from grace", losing his reputation, profession, and standing in the community.
Judge Bruce Davidson said Joel's offending was systematic and sustained, against victims who were very young and inherently vulnerable. "It was a wholesale breach of your trust as a teacher."
Though there appeared to be no further offending after 1976, material found on his computer by police showed Joel "maintained an interest in boys".
Outside court, Detective Sergeant Dan Keno said the victims would have liked to have seen a longer sentence.
"They are satisfied that he will be behind bars and not at risk of reoffending."
Joel faced sentencing as if he had been charged in 1976. Similar offending in 2010 would have seen him charged with sexual violation and receiving a much longer prison term.
Rewa Rewa School board of trustees chairwoman Helen Richards said the school community had been shocked and concerned when Joel was arrested last year and could now move forward.
With stricter background checks on teachers today it was not as feasible for sexual abuse to happen in schools, she said.
Free-spending government ministers abused their taxpayer-funded credit cards against the backdrop of a Yes Minister culture.
As former Labour ministers lined up to justify their spending – including a $300 tour of the Taj Mahal, a month-long, $22,000 tour of Europe and a five-hour taxi ride – Prime Minister John Key has told officials to show no mercy from now on.
"I've said to them it's got to stop ... They should be cutting up the credit cards of people who use them [inappropriately]."
The release of thousands of credit card receipts from Labour's time in government showed some ministers lived it up on their cards overseas, with fine wines and expensive dinners. Others pushed the boundaries further.
Labour list MP Shane Jones, who bought pornography and chocolate on the taxpayer, and former conservation minister Chris Carter, who bought flowers and massages, are both lined up for demotion on Monday by furious leader Phil Goff.
But much of the spending was approved by officials and classed as legitimate. Mr Key blamed a system in which all the power lay with ministers' offices, rather than the officials who were supposed to police their spending. "Ministerial Services have been working on the principle that they want to accommodate ministers and their offices.
They do almost everything they can to accommodate them."
Mr Key is also signalling more transparency in future: ministerial credit card receipts are likely to be released quarterly, at the same time as MPs' travel and accommodation expenses are disclosed. Auditor-General Lyn Provost is also expected to recommend a cleanup of the rules when she reports back from a long-running inquiry, sparked by revelations that Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley wrongly spent more than $1000 on his credit card. Labour fears fallout.
MURDER ACCUSED NEW ZEALAND GRANDMOTHER WOULDN'T HELP PARAMEDICS
As her granddaughter lay in the next room, dying of severe head injuries, Joanne Tahuri refused to tell paramedics what had happened, a court has heard.
Tahuri is standing trial for the murder of Cherishsiliala Tahuri-Wright, known as Cherish, in the High Court at Whanganui.
The Porirua toddler died of severe head injuries in Wellington Hospital on February 19 last year.
The Crown alleges Tahuri inflicted a blow strong enough to cause a subdural haematoma, or bleeding between the brain and skull.
However, the defence intends to argue a combination of factors - including assaults by the toddlers' three-year-old cousin - contributed to Cherish's death.
On day three of the trial today, the jury heard from St John Ambulance Officer Bruce Tolhopf, who was the first paramedic called to Tahuri's house on February 17, 2009.
He received a call at 12.20pm that day and arrived at 12.39pm, with another paramedic, to find Cherish lying on a bed with her jaw locked and hands cramped.
She also had fixed pupils was also experiencing slight seizures, he said.
"They were short spasms and jerking movements. They came in pulses."
All could be considered signs of brain damage, he said.
Mr Tolhopf said he administered oxygen then talked to Tahuri in an attempt to find out any information that could assist with saving Cherish's life.
"The first two times I asked her [what happened?] she said 'I don't want to talk about it'. The next time I asked she said she wouldn't talk about it and walked back inside.
'NO, NO, NO, I DON'T WANT THEM INVOLVED'
Earlier today, Shona Bollinger - who lived near Tahuri in Marton on the day Cherish received her fatal injuries - gave evidence.
Ms Bollinger said Tahuri came to her house around 11am on February 17, 2008 in a panicked state to borrow the phone.
She overheard Tahuri on the phone with her partner Alan Hunia, saying, "Can you come home urgently please, there's something wrong with Cherish," Ms Bollinger said.
When she asked Tahuri what was wrong, Ms Bollinger was told, "There's blood coming out of her mouth and she's had trouble breathing."
Ms Bollinger said she rang 111 for an ambulance but could not get through, so she called the Marton Police station.
Ms Bollinger said that when she told Tahuri the police had been called, Tahuri replied by saying, "No, no, no, I don't want them involved".
Ms Bollinger said she went with Tahuri to her house to find Cherish lying almost unconscious, struggling to breath, with blood around her mouth and a bump on her forehead.
"Her mouth was clamped shut. It was like she had bitten her tongue," she said.
The trial is continuing.
ISRAELI SPY IN NEW ZEALAND SCANDAL LINKED TO DUBAI HIT SQUAD
An Israeli spy at the centre of a New Zealand passport scandal has been named as a suspect in the execution of a Hamas commander, as Israel finally restored its diplomatic presence in Wellington.
The new ambassador to New Zealand, Shemi Tzur, dismissed reports yesterday that Zev Barkan was involved in the murder of Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr Barkan was among five new suspects being investigated after the assassination of Mr al-Mabhouh when a team of assassins broke into his five-star Dubai hotel room and silently killed him.
A "Do not disturb" sign was left on the room door. Security camera footage showed the alleged killers sharing a lift with Mr al-Mabhouh before the killing.
Dubai police have blamed the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, for the killing, but Israel denies the charge.
In 2004, prime minister Helen Clark said there was no doubt that Mr Barkan and two others who tried to fraudulently obtain New Zealand passports were Mossad operatives.
The three men were charged, but Mr Barkan eluded capture. Police still have a warrant for his arrest. The other two were jailed and later deported.
Diplomatic relations with Israel were suspended for more than a year, before Israel finally apologised in 2005. The two countries' governments have hailed strong recent progress on their relationship.
The Israeli embassy, which was closed in 2002 for financial reasons, reopened in Wellington late last month and the new ambassador, Mr Tzur, presented his credentials yesterday to Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand.
Mr Tzur, a career diplomat with experience in Middle Eastern peace talks, said the 2004 passport scandal was in the past. "I can tell you now, when I came to New Zealand we were not discussing that. My delegation and in all my meetings, we were talking about how we are building strong ties in many fields that we can co-operate."
Mr Tzur said he was not in a position to comment on the Dubai killing.
However, he had read about the case in the newspapers. "Like many others, I see every second day something come from Dubai – now it's what, I don't know, 100 people [accused] almost."
Victoria University Associate Professor Jim Veitch, an expert on international relations, said the murder of Mr al-Mabhouh was a "major blunder" by Mossad.
Mossad was very active all over the Western world in getting passports and tracking people from the Islamic world.
"The Israelis are just so paranoid about security and protection that they will go to any lengths to make sure that they keep a gap between themselves and those that they perceive to be the enemy," Dr Veitch said.
However, it was much better to have the Israeli embassy restored in New Zealand. "Having them here means we can have conversations with them.
"It's just normal that they act in this way. We just have to accept that right now, it's part of what the situation in the world is like."
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the Israeli Government's 2005 apology over the passport scandal had been accepted and the matter was closed. Thenew embassy in Wellington was welcome.
The Masons were told they could be jailed for 48 hours without charge.
A New Zealand man spent a "wretched" night in a Fiji prison cell after frightened residents and police raided his Freemasons meeting, suspecting witchcraft and sorcery.
The man, who didn't want to be named, blamed "dopey village people" for the raid in which 14 members of the Freemasons Lodge of Lautoka were herded into police cars and jailed for the night.
Police also seized lodge paraphernalia, including wands, compasses and a skull.
Yesterday, the man told the Herald that Tuesday night's meeting was "interrupted by a banging on the door and there were these village people and the police demanding to be let in".
Nothing sinister had been going on but "such is the nature of life in Fiji" they were taken to a nearby police station, he said.
The Masons were told nothing of the allegations against them, but were warned that under Fiji's emergency decree, they could be jailed for 48 hours without charge.
The lodge secretary showed police a copy of the permit allowing the meeting, but was told the permit was not the problem.
The commanding police officer then disappeared, leaving the 14 men to spend the night in the cells.
"It was hot and wasn't very comfortable, because there was nowhere to lie down," the man said. "The officers who were guarding us were pleasant, though, chatting away to us."
At 8.30am yesterday, an officer let them go, saying the Prime Minister's office had ordered they be released.
The man said he was outraged that overly suspicious villagers had been able to convince police to "totally abuse their power".
He said the police should have told the villagers to calm down.
"The stupidity is overwhelming. Virtually unlimited power is placed in the hands of bungling police, who have no judgment or sense of balance, so, at the whim of an uneducated villager, 14 senior members of society had to spend a night locked up."
A police spokesman said the men were arrested because police had been tipped off that a meeting was being held and there were "some strange goings-on".