Whatever voters do with the private emails an unidentified hacker has made public, they are better informed. They know the office of John Key has been working closely with blogger, Cameron Slater. They know Slater's blog, Whale Oil, and they now know it was given politically sensitive information, unusually quickly and ahead of other media, by the SIS which reports directly and exclusively to the Prime Minister.
They also know Justice Minister Judith Collins has exposed a public servant to abuse by giving his details to her good friend Slater. Both incidents arose in news-making events long forgotten. One was a political fuss over Finance Minister Bill English's paid accommodation. The other, over whether then Opposition leader Phil Goff had been briefed by the SIS about Israelis who were in Christchurch at the time of the earthquake.
The public was better informed by the SIS disclosure but it did not need to come through a partisan website when more responsible media were also asking for it. And it was remarkable that a request under the Official Information Act produced a result within four working days. News media are accustomed to waiting four weeks or more for material they seek under the OIA. When it concerns the SIS they rarely receive a word.
At the time Key's press office denied any direction had been given to the SIS on how they should treat the request and this week the Prime Minister denied knowing the briefing note was going to be released. He looked to be in trouble on Thursday morning when Newstalk ZB produced a letter from the SIS director at the time, Warren Tucker, stating he had told the Prime Minister he was going to release the information. But later that day Tucker said he had told the PM's office, not Key himself, who in turn said he was holidaying in Hawaii at the time.
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So the Prime Minister's veracity survives. He looked uncomfortable earlier in the week as emails from Slater's hacked personal log were dumped on him daily. None of it added much to the samples published in Dirty Politics the previous week, but the substance of disclosures can be less important than a politician's denials.
If the denial is disproved, the leader is in big trouble. Richard Nixon had to resign not for the Watergate burglary, which he probably did not authorise, but for its cover-up and his lies. These things are sent to test the integrity of those we entrust with power. If politicians are wise they will be scrupulously honest at all times. Anything less when they are under constant scrutiny is too dangerous. The election will say whether Key has passed the test.