News that New Zealand's covert communications interception arm, the GCSB, had over-reached its mandate to 'spy' on New Zealand residents was a gift for conspiracy theorists and Opposition politicians looking to score.  

Salivary glands worked overtime as an illegal interception of communications of someone with a residence class visa gave rise to the spectre of a politically motivated intrusion intended as a part of a grade A suck-up to the United States.

Last week's report from the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Agency, Hon Paul Neazor, into the affair offered up the more likely, less sexy, but still worrying explanation - a misunderstanding of the law.  Green Party co-leader Russel Norman alleges that the resultant unlawfulness is also criminal, with Police confirming yesterday they will investigate his complaint.

At the nub of things was the Dotcom et al's immigration status.  GCSB's mandate is to deal with foreign communications only. That protects the communications of locals, including, by the by, New Zealand residents.

GCSB had formed a view that while Dotcom's 'resident' status under the old Immigration Act was carried forward under the new Act, an additional step was necessary to put him outside the class of persons whose communications could be intercepted.

This gives rise to some real questions about the adequacy of GCSB's legal advice.  Crown Law seems to have been left out of the loop, its able dealings with sensitive matters notwithstanding.

An omission to secure the advice of the Government's legal advisors, if omission there was, will be deemed with the benefit of hindsight a serious misstep.  However, any difficult questions that may flow from that will be a lot less difficult than those arising if Crown Law had been involved with the same unhappy result.

Already the affair is giving rise to the familiar call for improved communications between agencies.  Hon Mr Neazor has already highlighted the need for the GCSB to be assured that any person of interest does not fall into a protected category, which will necessarily involve a more rigorous exchange between the relevant agencies.

Where this will go remains to be seen.  But conspiracy theorists will soon be exercised by the fact that the last time there was a concerted call for improved communication between public security agencies, the world was presented with the Department of Homeland Security.  Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!