Sunday, December 02, 2007

NZ has TERRORISTS!!! - 8

It is not often that I would turn to Nicky Hager as a source for comment and analysis. Not, you understand, because of any major mistrust that I might have in his credibility or truthfulness but simply because his politik and mine are somewhat distant.

I make the exception this time because he has expressed on this occasion much of my continuing misgivings about the “Urewera police raids”, and has also added much from his direct observation and consideration of the available evidence.

Hager starts with the description of events two years ago when a person purchased a pistol holster over the internet. Seriously paranoid police in the "intelligence unit" prepared an affidavit which included what can only be described as "speculative charges" that the man intended to overthrow the government of NZ.

Yeah, right?

OK so the police have used this legal technique before, not necessarily in relation to the Suppression of Terrorism Act (SOTA). Isn't that comforting!

I can just imagine the kind of conversations that might emanate from the Ureweras. When we lived in Te Whaiti it was peaceful, and there was no problem in "intercepting" the private calls of others on the party line. Our line was 4, our call was "U" (ditditdah in Morse) and there were probably another 5 or 6 households on that line at least. Stories abound of the local who keeps up with the affairs of others by quietly raising his/her receiver and listening in.

One only has to listen in the local pub in a place like Opo, or Ruatoki, or Murupara to get a good guage on political feeling in the district. In the regional strongholds of Rangatiratanga and the even more "extreme" Maori political movements the discussion of "war" is not common, but can be heard from the more fuelled of the bar's clientele. Generally it centres on past grievance. In Taranaki it would be strongest about the time that the anniversary of Parihaka is observed. Up north, Ruapekapeka and similar actions figure fairly strongly in the feelings of the locals still.

The point here is though that all of these were more than three or four generations ago. Ruatoki, and its surrounding district, has just last year celebrated the centenary of the police action against Rua Kenana (who was in fact a Christian prophet, much in the same vein as David Koresh). As a result of that action, the government of the day drew a line in the ground and confiscated all of the tribe's land and resources north and west of that line. The fact that the army lined up at that point in the Ruatoki road at the start of Operation Eight is more than symbolic. Sorry, did I say "army"? It should have been "armed constabulary", for that is surely what they were.

And, returning to Hager's article, the whole of that action was authorised, based upon, speculative interpretations of very selective pieces of "evidence". I have no reason to doubt Hager's description of the process; the accumulation of all of the evidence that has "worked" to obtain further authority to take the action another step toward conclusion. If an application for another step fails, then that affidavit dies. Successful, and the next affidavit is built upon that foundation. Hager's point, and he makes it quite persuasively, is that the core of the continuing process is in fact speculative. It is driven by predetermined objectives. It is fuelled by a desire held at the highest levels in our Police force to achieve what are so close to political objectives that the cross-over is almost palpable. [Note that I am adding to Hager's report here, not directly reporting.]

Hager uses the example of "quasi military training camps" to illustrate how this works. ""quasi military training camps"? How much different it would be if they were described in the same kind of glowing terms as some of the Outward Bound courses? Or The Sir Edmund Hillary OTC courses. None of these provide any weapons training but there are some who might see that as a disadvantage to those courses as well. Certainly that is something that I would like to see, and apart from the basic training provided by the army there seems to be quite a gap here in terms of the formal teaching of weapon use, weapon care and the practical use of weapons in the field. However, it now seems probable that any such training course would very soon draw the attention of every copper between Cape Reinga and Bluff, with regular and increasing surveillance affidavits being presented to the Courts.

I have a strong feeling that Hager has another of his books in the mill. Like "Straw Men" and "Corngate", I have little doubt that the political fallout will be considerable. Even if there is no political connection (and I have zero evidence that there is, except for what Sgt Colon would describe as "that feeling in my waters") there will be very serious and justified questions on oversight, responsibility to know and manage, and the level of reporting involved.

No, there should not be the slightest hint of political interference in the operation of our police. Nor, under any circumstances, should the police be seen to be attempting to achieve political objectives. It works like this -

Should there be a person or group in the Ureweras who want some level of independance or even a Tuhoe nation, that belief does not of itself constitute a basis for "terrorism" any more than a secular nation is atheistic or the Exclusive Bretheran should achieve some vague objective of a nation under God. If there is some stupid hothead talking about "taking out" a high personage whether it is the Auntie Helen, or the Jonkey, or even the Shrub himself then the police know enough to keep a quiet eye on both the personage and the hothead.

Having law as vague, and as threatening as SOTA, makes the American's perceived threats to their general freedoms from the Patriot Act look as dangerous as fur-lined handcuffs from the local sex shop. That the police have the power to manipulate truth and objectivity as seriously as they seem to have done (I am basing this on Hager's statement that he has read the affidavit) is only the get-go. That it can take up to two years before the police are required to present their evidence before a Court is an indictment on our Justice system. That it requires our news media to run the gauntlet line of contempt of Court threats and lengthy legal actions of their own to place fact before the public is a strong illustration of the contempt held for the right of the public to know.

That brings in another facet, one examined by Mediawatch this morning. There was similar discussion in the print media this past week or so but a search under "+official+information" turns up nothing in Herald, stuff or Listener. I am sure that I did not imagine the article, with illustrations of the appearance of documents that have been censored under the exclusions of "privacy" and "commercial sensitivity". One instance had one sentence that was legible in the full A4 page. Take a listen to the Mediawatch programme. The relevant bit is at the beginning and makes for fairly chilling reading.

Yes, we can safely conclude that NZ has terrorists. Whether they occupy remote communities in the Ureweras or the halls of power in Wellington is a moot point.

From my point of view, those in Wellington strike far greater fear in my heart than those from Ruatoki;

- if the latter ever did exist.

I think I need go buy me a gun.

Oh, why did I not quote directly from Hager's article? Go read it for yourself.

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