"The Terrorism Files"

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  • Finn Higgins,

    <quote>
    I googled "15 year old girl cavity search" and came up with nothing. Got any more info on this? A link? <quote>

    Just while we're on the topic of "quoting out of context", this one's a cracker. I/O, you dirty, dirty man... ;)

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    I/O, you dirty, dirty man... ;)

    Now now ... it was a serious google - and I've clearly sparked off some heated discussion since my post back on page 41. What's weird is the first result the google search came up with was 'Troy Fergusson - BFM - RockNRoll Wire'. ;)

    If a male cop did perform a cavity search on a 15 year old girl then I'll be one of the first to join the protest march. What perplexes me (warning: the next bit is rude, but I'm serious) is what were the Police expecting to find there? It must have been (again I'm serious) something very important that they couldn't wait for a female officer to perform the cavity search. Which is why I don't believe it happened. [*]

    Some may construe this as heartless, but I've been around the block enough times to believe that a 15 y.o. is old enough to 'embelish' what happened to suit her political cause. And it may even have started out innocently enough. As is evidenced by this discussion, words can be taken out of context and overblown. The girl may have just told her kuia that she was patted down and searched (but over her jeans) by the cop, and then this is retold as the cop stuck his hands between her legs, which is then retold as the girl underwent a cavity search. With everyone up in arms over that I can imagine the girl may have then been too timid to speak up and say "No, what actually happened was ..."

    But lets not get ahead of ourselves. No-one knows what happened (aside from those actually involved) and we (myself included) are just making suppositions and speculating. Does it really contribute?

    [*] The only possible scenario for this cavity search to have taken place would be something Sara hinted at earlier: the cop was trying to brutalise the girl to assert his power/control over her. But I'm not yet ready to believe this is Bosnia circa 1990

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    OK, let's approach this in our new-found spirit of conciliation (until I have my next tipple).

    There'll inevitably be some agreeing to differ.

    There are two sides to every argument, and contributing causes for every event

    Indeed, but the POV of those defending the activists is that one side is already out there and according to a poll a while back, 6/7 thought that the police were justified. Furious statements of support without balancing and rather ritual condemnations of terrorism are seen as part of a debate from a minority position that isn't getting the front page of the Dompost, not stand-alone statements.

    Ureweras with weapons and live ammunition

    Not all meat comes fom supermarkets. That may sound odd (especially to one as urbanised to me), but some people do still rountinely hunt, and they will be a bit cavalier about licences.

    Now, my personal opinion, which actually, despite my often furious tone, I've not often brought up when defending them is that there were some people who were caught up in some macho fantasies of a secret army and indeed, there may well be substance... but then the SG... oh sh*t, I used a "but". Well, I'm in two minds and I want to see fair processes followed.

    There's a line there between being a blowhard who likes shooty things and stockpiling and serious intent to form an armed fighting/terrorist force. The police thought that it was terrorism, the SG disagreed, the leaked evidence has now been presented as vindication of the police position. The Dompost wasn't exactly engaging constructively.

    can't just expect to talk about one side of the argument without people perceiving you as unreasonably one-sided.

    True, but as far as they're concerned, that horse bolted when the police went in in combat gear, when the word "terrorism" started being flung around and a whole herb escaped when the various fish and chip wrappers started going on about napalm and grenade launchers and plots to kill W. Too late, already.

    The comparative absence of people shouting one-note recitals of their own political viewpoint is one of the things about politics in NZ that redeems it considerably over, for example, the USA.

    Well, yes, somewhat. American debates are pretty awful with their toxicity and tribalism overriding any real discussion, but in comparison with the potential range of debate is big-endian versus small-endian (I'll support Bigend if its Hubertus... sorry, obscure joke). I want to see radical ideas aired coherently - not necessarily because I agree with them, but because, ahem "cognitive estrangement" is a good cold shower for the soul. If they're utterly alien to me, I want to think about why they should seem that way. My job has brought me into contact with people whose experiences have been very different from mine and I want to know how they got there (let me tell you sometime about one student I had once, a dyslexic man in his 40s with convictions for GBH and heroin possession and who is a really nice guy).

    I want to see it reported to the Police Complaints Authority and I want to hear their response

    Alas, for a lot of the older activists who remember the Springbok tour and the clowns incident, that sort of thing is suitable for a Tui billboard. Police investigating police is not something they care much about - certainly not after what came up during Dewar's trial, not when Greg O'Connor describes the Nicholas case as a "distraction" and "an isolated incident" and Bazley's report on a culture of misogyny and sexual abuse as a clean bill of health.

    Well, at a weekend BBQ (which is what we liberals in leafy suburbs do... tho' Aro Valley is as mildewed as it is leafy), I was speaking to a woman whose flatmate was one of those arrested and she remarked sadly on the severe polarisation of viewpoints. I agreed with her tone and was somewhat surprised, considering how close the issue was to her personally. Another friend is much less, um, subtle.

    Keith Locke was sadly like watching the little boy crying out about the real wolf while everybody laughed him off.

    Alas, yes. Funnily enough, I'm likely to vote Green, not because I much like them (Global Climate Change initiatives good, Luddism not), but because I want that ginger in parliament.

    You are assuming, I think, more foresight and co-ordination, and more uniformity of initial premises than is actually the case.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 975 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Alas, for a lot of the older activists who remember the Springbok tour and the clowns incident, that sort of thing is suitable for a Tui billboard. Police investigating police is not something they care much about - certainly not after what came up during Dewar's trial, not when Greg O'Connor describes the Nicholas case as a "distraction" and "an isolated incident" and Bazley's report on a culture of misogyny and sexual abuse as a clean bill of health.

    I don't think older history is appropriate to reflect upon the PCA. I have very little faith in the PCA, but they have never had authority over most of these things. Springbok Tour etc all predate the PCA, and from what I heard on the radio this morning, it's only just became the case (along with a name change) that they can look at events pre-1988 (I presume they started in 1988).

    Looking at events older than 20 years ago and reflecting upon the actions to date of the PCA in their light isn't fair if they PCA didn't exist then, and wasn't legally able to look at them.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    I don't think older history is appropriate to reflect upon the PCA.

    Maybe not, but the PCA is perceived as a band-aid at best and incidents of twenty years or more ago are seen as part of a continuum/symptoms of a basic malaise leading up to the present day. The concept of "police investigating police" is not viewed without considerable cynicism.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 975 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Kracklite, thanks for all that. There's a lot to cover and I don't think I can go into detail on everything without starting to post things pages long, so I'll stick to a couple of points.

    The first point I would make is that the SG didn't specifically absolve anybody of any particular wrongdoing - he just said that the TSA wasn't applicable, and specifically criticised the law as being completely unusable in the context of domestic groups. I'm happy enough about that, I don't really want NZ to have domestic anti-terror laws; but as with the point you made about Rickards earlier, just because something doesn't meet a legal test for a particular criminal charge doesn't mean you'd want to invite the people involved over for dinner.

    Moving on to the hunting point... it's entirely possible that's all that was going on. But there are some pretty substantial questions surrounding that - some of the weapons discussed in the affidavit aren't particularly suited to hunting activities, and if the defendants were actually just hunting then I don't see how them all standing up and saying "we were just going hunting" would be harmful to their defense, unless it was proved to be patently untrue. But the thrust of my prior post was that we can't really talk meaningfully about whether the heavily armed police response was appropriate or not without discussing the details of what was happening in the Ureweras. There are plenty on the far left wanting to separate these two issues, that I'd have to say seem rather inseparable to me.

    Now for the PCA and activist distrust of it. This is where I would have to ask a pretty fundamental question: if you don't believe you can effect meaningful change in society, why be an activist? If you do not believe you can ever use systems created as a result of your protests, why protest? As a result of a number of cases that many of the same activists have been involved in the PCA has seen a number of increases in its powers of inquiry, and indeed I believe some of them (along with a name change) became effective today. It is the body that exists to police the police in NZ. If it is not doing its job then protests about this can be addressed to government, who have been at least somewhat responsive to them. But it's hard to expect government to respond to complaints about a system that has been ignored.

    I'm not going to claim the system is perfect; but I have had some positive response in reporting dubious police behavior to the PCA myself, so just ignoring the body that exists for the purpose of pursuing complaints about the cops seems utterly self-defeating. The new PCA and its new powers should be tested, not dismissed. It's in the interests of us all that we have an effective means of policing our police force, so if people believe they have genuine complaints then I'd like to see them pursued through the channels in society that exist for that purpose. If the system doesn't work we need to fix it ASAP, and it can't be easily fixed without good examples of it failing.

    This is getting awful long, so I'll stick with a short coda too...

    You are assuming, I think, more foresight and co-ordination, and more uniformity of initial premises than is actually the case.

    I'm not assuming foresight and co-ordination, I'm decrying the lack of it. I'd really like to see the activist communities whose mailers keep landing up in my inbox go back to first principles and discuss how the campaigns they're involved in at present are going to help them achieve their actual goals. My argument is that they're shooting themselves in the feet repeatedly at the moment by throwing all their weight behind a bunch of people who may very possibly have been doing some really stupid things that run counter to much of what these groups purport to believe in. It's hard to see a worse alliance than peace activists allied with people who believe peace to be bullshit, after all.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The concept of "police investigating police" is not viewed without considerable cynicism.

    That's also somewhat dated. All my police complaints from the 90s were handled by the PCA, but investigated by police. About five (?) years ago the PCA got staffed up in response to the above criticism and they now do their own legwork, rather than relying on the police to do it.

    I think the problem more is, they're pretty closely linked to police ideas, and reluctant to criticise the police unless their actions are quite blatant.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Damn, wrote a reply and it evaporated, which REALLY pissed me off, cos' it was sooo eloquent.

    OK, again, and perhaps briefer (relatively).

    The first point I would make is that the SG didn't specifically absolve anybody of any particular wrongdoing

    And that's what infuriates a lot of people in the activist community. They're tarred with a brush... and now the accusations cannot be disproven in court. The mud has stuck. It's utterly unfair for a lot of them and leads them to believe that the T-word is just cynically and dishonestly being used as a stick to beat everyone with.

    I wouldn't invite a vegan to dinner - out of consideration for for their sensibilities. They wouldn't like my jokes about deep-fried whaleburgers.

    There is an irony here in that the activists have something in common with Greg O'Connor: some people think all police are rapists, racists and stormtroopers and some people think that all activists are terrorists.

    if you don't believe you can effect meaningful change in society, why be an activist?

    The end of slavery in the west, votes for women and independence for India did not come about by working within the system. One can draw a continuum perhaps: lobbyists who work with the system (and are seen as corrupt and corrupting by some), activists who compare themselves with the suffragettes and many other groups that have used civil disobedience to achieve social justice (and they are inevitably disruptive) and at the far end are terrorists who will not engage at all face to face with power.

    My concern here is the perceived legitimacy of power. Terrorism arises not in conditions of poverty, but when power is perceived as illegitimate. Bin Laden and Lenin are both from wealthy families. Lenin was even a lawyer, but his brother was wrongly condemned and executed by the Tsarist police. We all know what he decided to do next. Saudi Arabia is by no means a free and open state and notably most of the 911 perpetrators were well-off Saudis, not poor and uneducated. There’s a paper which supports this which I am too lazy to find and link.

    The problem is that whatever happened in the Ureweras, the police presented a face that looked authoritarian, arbitrary and violent. Hone Harawira, whether one agrees with him or not, articulated the perception that Howard Broad deliberately bypassed all his Maori advisors and even the local Ruatoki police when it suited him to.

    Trust is essential to a civil society, and if that trust is flouted, then the legitimacy of authority is undermined. Force achieves immediate results, but long-term consequences may be that the situation ends up worse than ever. I'm sure that in the eyes of Tame Iti and his supporters (right or wrong, moderate or extreme, sane or barking), the raids justified their polarisation.

    I don't think that anything good will come of this.

    There is definitely a line between activist and terrorist, but people who want to see the adoption of terrorism love seeing people who don't think of themselves as terrorists being treated as terrorists because then they find it easier join the <Darth Vader breathing effects>dark side</Darth Vader breathing effects>. Raids on gluten-free bread workshops (not even dwarf bread) and a womens’ refuge and pointing a gun at a twelve-year-old girl’s head simultaneously with raids on accused terrorists in Ruatoki using the same warrants and as part of the same operation sends a very strong message from the police about who they think that they’re dealing with (my default disclaimer here is “even if that’s not their intention, that’s the effect”).

    Now, the biggest fault of the far left is indeed to assume that the enemy of their enemy is their ally. It's hardly unusual - John Pilger and Tariq Ali seem to love Chavez and Castro because they're not W and W loves the House of Saud.

    Sometimes it's Realpolitik and sometimes that works - Nixon and Kissinger achived detente with Russia and China after all, despite their repugnance for communism. Sometimes it's just naive, but smart people make that mistake.

    It goes back at least as far as Truman who said of one unsavoury dictator, "He's a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."

    Guns, hunting, NRA, NRA not terrorists... sorry, I'm being lazy (but you can fill in the gaps) and I'm not proposing that as an argument to justify actions, but to describe a point of view that is strongly held.

    Now I hate patriarchal macho thugs with advanced cases of testosterone poisoning who play with guns... but to even mild-mannered activists who had workshops on gluten-free bread broken up by cops and their members arrested for possession of avocados (or whatever), jerks playing secret army or cops look very similar.

    I'm not assuming foresight and co-ordination, I'm decrying the lack of it

    Allow me to rephrase my original observation: a lot of what you've been saying I agree with, but it's based on what people (on both sides) should do, not what the really do, what they see and how we need to deal with the consequences arising.

    Now, what I want is to see the Maori Party and the Greens in parliament, with all their more extreme elements and hangers on visible there and able to use the levers of power. On the other hand, activism and civil disobedience have worked in the past - very well - and they have in retrospect seen to be on the side of right.

    Simultaneously rounding up activists and accused terrorists is a very dangerous precedent because it will polarise society and undermine the legitimacy of power itself - with potentially the negative consequences I've described above.

    If the system doesn't work we need to fix it ASAP

    Agreed! I think that MMP helps here better and transparency helps even more. The increasing paranoia and clumsiness of the current government does not.

    My main objection to the raids is that they are not only outrageously intimidating - they are also outrageously stupid.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 975 posts Report Reply

  • Sara Noble,

    What Kracklite said, with bells on!
    Thank you BJD.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2007 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • blindjackdog,

    'Salright Sara. Thank you.

    Since Nov 2007 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    "We're living in a police state. You can't do anything any more."

    That's freaky, Fidel's on Cuba street might be in on the plot. It's got the Terrorist lear feel about it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2719 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    By that I assume you mean Disneyland-esque anti-capitalist theme restaurant feel?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    That's right,

    It's where passive smokers are aggressive.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2719 posts Report Reply

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