This year, the targets have been some of the more fringe animal rights groups, and Greenpeace.
POLICE TEAMS set up to identify terrorism threats and risks to national security are spying on protest and community groups, including Greenpeace, animal rights and climate change campaigners, and Iraq war protesters.
Police officers from the Special Investigation Group (SIG) have carried out surveillance and used a paid informer to gather information not just about planned protests but the personal lives and sexual relationships of group members.
Now you could accuse Hager of having an ulterior motive for his part in this article. Potentially, he could be a one man terrorism movement all on his own - at least in the eyes of those in charge of such organisations as GCSB otherwise better known as "Waihopai". That aside, there is quite a familiar ring to the story from Sunday Star Times.
That has been followed by this morning's news in the Herald
The Police Minister will meet the Police Commissioner today before deciding if an investigation is needed into police spying on protest groups.
The Special Investigation Group, set up in 2004 to focus on terrorism threats to national security, has been reportedly paying informants to spy on groups such as Greenpeace, animal rights and climate change campaigners and Iraq war protesters.
Police Minister Judith Collins said she would decide whether to launch an inquiry after her meeting with the Police Commissioner, Howard Broad, today.
"I want to find out more information before I say anything more," Ms Collins said.
"I have not been briefed on this issue at all yet and I am also keen to find out what, or how much, former Police Minister Annette King knew about this."
Now that last part is especially interesting. If you look back through the "NZ has TERRORISTS" posts you should find my hints at the possibility of political direction, and the requirement on Police to be the frontline of the anti-terrorism action. Not, you must understand, that I would want that responsibility to fall anywhere else. There are political and judicial controls on the Police force that would easily be hidden from examination if SIS or some other similar bureaucracy were to take it up. The existance of that possibility (SIS and GCSB involvement) is just a little too scary. It raises the paranoia of activities like "disappearances" even in commonfolk like the old probligo.
But tying this particular little event into the larger Urewera debacle does give more credence to the possibilities of either personal paranoia high in the ranks of our police, or (and I suspect this is more likely) there has been political meddling at the highest possible levels. Go back a year and Hager is in print again on a very similar topic to this, again directly connected to Urewera but at the same time giving a potted history of the whole police approach to the "terrorism threat".
On October 2, 2003 World Farm Animal Day a group of young Aucklanders held a protest at the Tegel Foods offices about treatment of chickens. They scattered some hay on the floor of the reception area and 23-year-old school teacher Jesse Duffield delivered a protest letter. Police documents estimate the cost of cleaning up the hay was $111 plus GST.
However, early the next morning, detectives raided Duffield's home. He was arrested roughly and charged with home invasion (maximum 10 years' prison) and intentional damage (maximum seven years' prison). Police opposed him getting bail and later imposed a 9pm-6am curfew. Meanwhile his car was impounded for a week and his house searched by detectives. They seized his computer and mobile phone, plus 100 floppy disks, posters off the walls and a T-shirt saying "GE, you are what you eat." These possessions were not returned for nine months.
The only rational explanation for their actions was intelligence collecting. The police eventually dropped their absurd charges but they'd got hundreds of thousands of emails and texts to build a profile of the animal rights groups. The detective who led the raid, Mike Paki, was not a normal CIB officer, but a police intelligence officer from the Auckland Threat Assessment Unit who was surprise, surprise studying animal rights and other protest groups. It appears police were working their way through activist groups looking for security threats. It's not hard to see where such ideas would come from.
Then yesterday Herald reports the outcome of the meeting between Police Chief and Minister.
Police Minister Judith Collins yesterday said she had been given an assurance by Police Commissioner Howard Broad that police were "meeting their responsibilities" after it was reported that Christchurch man Rob Gilchrist had been paid to supply information from various groups to police over several years.
Police will not confirm or deny Mr Gilchrist's activities, but say they are not targeting peaceful protesters. Mr Gilchrist told the Herald he would like to comment but could not "for all sorts of reasons".
Police national crime manager Detective Superintendent Win van der Velde told the Herald police had no interest in lawful protesters, but focused on individuals where criminal behaviour was suspected.
Last night Ms Rees [the partner of the "spy"] issued details of questionnaires emailed to Mr Gilchrist by the police.
They included questions on climate change groups, animal rights activists, and planned anti-American demonstrations.
Green MP Keith Locke said his party's own emails may have been forwarded to police by Mr Gilchrist, and they would be asking the police whether they encouraged this practice.
That last point was taken up on Morning Report this morning, with Locke being interviewed. (Don't know how long that might stay there but it is worth a listen.)
In the meantime, I suggest that the NZ Police Force should consider a new name -