Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Need to Know

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'll take Oliver Driver over Paul "This is a dream come true for you, isn't it, Mr. Key?" Henry over on One any day of the week.

    I'd find gonorrhoea marginally preferable to syphilis. But I'd avoid getting VD full stop, by preference.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11931 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Ryan, it's a humorous coinage for the folk collected in police raids in Ruatoki and other places at the same time. Surely you know this already, and you're just testing whether I think that it's a real organization? I don't.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    No Ben, this "Ryan" character is just seeing what you know and what else you can tell him ... Can't be too careful these days.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    __I'll take Oliver Driver over Paul "This is a dream come true for you, isn't it, Mr. Key?" Henry over on One any day of the week.__

    I'd find gonorrhoea marginally preferable to syphilis. But I'd avoid getting VD full stop, by preference.

    Would you go ballistic if Chris Trotter applied the same metaphor to John Key and Bill English?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    I'll take Oliver Driver over Paul "This is a dream come true for you, isn't it, Mr. Key?" Henry over on One any day of the week.

    That would be Paul "Scandinavian men all look like homosexuals" Henry, wouldn't it?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I'd find gonorrhoea marginally preferable to syphilis. But I'd avoid getting VD full stop, by preference.

    Ranapian!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3349 posts Report Reply

  • Ryan Sproull,

    No Ben, this "Ryan" character is just seeing what you know and what else you can tell him ... Can't be too careful these days.

    Oh, I was just going to offer to fix his computer. Dot dot dot.

    I wonder how much damage this has done to activism in exactly that sense - "can't be too careful these days". It could make people too wary of each other to become too friendly, reducing trust, etc.

    On the other hand, it could cause a reaction where activism groups start operating as hierarchical tiers of secrecy, with new members not being told what's really going on until they've proven themselves, keeping activity of small groups separate from each other so neither knows what the other is doing, etc. Plus feeding even more of their "us versus the police" attitude - which is not always necessarily the actual case.

    In other words, it could make them more of a Te Qaeda than they ever were before. And not just the ones hit by this recent bout of spying - it would have that psychological effect on all activism in New Zealand.

    State Highway One • Since Jan 2007 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    philip, don't worry, I'm already reading Ryan's mail. From the number of mails about dodgy penile function medication in his 'junk' box, I think I've got an iron clad case for busting up a drugs ring already. I'm just trying to work out who sexy_justine69@hotmedz.com.ca is. I'll bust these junkies yet.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    You can't know that a group you are thinking of spying on is doing illegal stuff until you look into it deeply.

    A lot of police surveillance is done when the police already know that a crime is being committed, the surveillance is being done to get enough evidence for a conviction, or to confirm who committed the crime.

    At least some of the Te Qaeda surveillance was done with a search warrant issued by a judge. Based on information presented to the judge which they presumably found at least moderately compelling.

    The difference with what this Gilchrist chap has passed on is that it didn't require any laws or warrants, it was information that the police could get legally. The reason you wouldn't want to investigate the two things together is that one would be an investigation of police actions under anti-terrorism laws, the other would be police acting under no law - because no law was required for them to do it, it's a moral question.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Ryan Sproull,

    At least some of the Te Qaeda surveillance was done with a search warrant issued by a judge. Based on information presented to the judge which they presumably found at least moderately compelling.

    Legally, when does the evidence seen by the judge, which... warranted the warrant, become public? Does anyone know?

    State Highway One • Since Jan 2007 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Kyle, fair points. But I'd have to wonder if the police didn't get a search warrant for Te Qaeda, whether they would have used spies to get more evidence to present to the judge. The extent to which spying can be used without warrants would surely be a major focus of any inquiry into spying on political groups.

    Then again, I guess successful inquiries have to remain tightly focused. That limits their chances of failure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Whatever tactics the police used in the Te Qaeda case, they were investigating crimes and their investigations have led to charges being made. In the Gilchrist case, the police were receiving information about groups which have not committed any but the most minor offences, such as attempting to plant organic onions at a GE research site.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    The old `Organic Onion' ruse, eh? I'm sure the editor at the NBR is already making vacuous connections between that and the onions that thrive in terrorist cooking.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 408 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm surprised how uniform the refusal to see any principle in common is. Perhaps everyone knows a whole lot more than I do about how our spook world works, or perhaps they just don't want to. It's not nice to find out that our spooks are both right wing and racist, but personally I find the racist part more desperately in need of investigation. If I'm alone in this view, then so be it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    I shall probably regret asking this, but what was the racist part?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    such as attempting to plant organic onions at a GE research site

    or tagging?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1095 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    I may be wrong, but Judith Collins has always come across to me as the worst sort of party hack. I'd be very surpised if she took a stand on principle on ANYTHING......that wasn't pre-approved by anyone owning a butt she needed to kiss.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 280 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    @Paul
    All in Ben's mind, I believe

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Yeah it's all in my mind that that the police found it a whole lot more credible that a group of Maori who were acting like commandos out in the bush are terrorists than, say, at least 2 dozen similar such fools that I met at University who didn't happen to be Maori, who talked of armed insurrection, and played wargames, and said they'd love to blow politicians up.

    But for some reason, it's totally credible that the police have right wing motives for investigating unions and other left wing groups. That's not in the mind, it's established fact.

    Personally, I don't even HAVE an opinion on whether such biases exist. But I would like to know, and would think an inquiry might make it clear whether this Gilchrist spying might actually have been motivated by credible evidence that crimes were being committed. Evidence that goes further than 'general police bias against left wing groups' which so far as I can see is very much a conspiracy theory at the moment.

    To make it crystal clear, I do not like spying of any kind and think it should all be investigated, and have extremely high standards of evidence and proof. An inquiry would be good now and it would be good for Te Quaeda too.

    Crying 'Equivocation' seems to be the favourite online way of dismissing anything resembling principle recently, and I really don't like it. I'm sorry if that offends people. Sometimes equivocation is a perfectly valid way of thinking, indeed the ONLY way that abstractions can be made. Otherwise morality descends into a gigantic cacophony of unrelated laws. That is exactly why our drug laws are so disjointed and fucked up, because too many people squeal 'Equivocation' as though that is an argument. It is not an argument, it is a way of avoiding an argument, of ignoring the possibility of a principle, of justifying piecemeal prejudice. I don't think like that, and no amount of social disapproval will change that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    I wonder how much damage this has done to activism in exactly that sense - "can't be too careful these days". It could make people too wary of each other to become too friendly, reducing trust, etc.

    Less than you might think - there is in fact little new about this. All that's new is that it's known to the public now as well. An ex of mine noticed police fishing when she was working on editing a film on the '81 Springbok tour. No doubt older activists have their stories.

    The fact is, I gather, is that most activists groups today already know that there'll be someone in the pay of police or private investigators and they're very easy to spot and quietly sideline - too nosy, too ingratiating, too provocative, trying too hard. There are no George Smileys in police intelligence or their employ - "intelligence" really is used orxymoronically.

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

  • Kracklite,

    "OXYmoronically", damnit.

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

  • BenWilson,

    Kracklite, there may be some on the payroll that are easy to spot, but if there are ones who aren't easy to spot, how could you know?

    I think you're right but it's one of those beliefs that's based far more on theory than evidence. Evidence for the absence of something is extremely hard to come by. My theory is that there is simply no need for 'deep moles' in NZ activism. Such resources would be better spent investigating the far more likely kind of conspiracy that exists all the time, conspiracies to profit from crime. Even then it's probably a waste of resources, except in the case of very serious crimes like robbery and murder. Activists are mostly do-gooders, so any conspiracy to commit crimes will come apart from the inside.

    Only a theory, mind.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    That would be Paul "Scandinavian men all look like homosexuals" Henry, wouldn't it?

    That would be Paul "Georgina Beyer deserves a very large cheque from the National Party for keeping me out of their caucus" Henry.

    Would you go ballistic if Chris Trotter applied the same metaphor to John Key and Bill English?

    No, Russell. But if I ever compare Driver and his fellow presenters to a pack of rapists or racially-motivated murderers, please feel free to delete my posting rights on PAS. And the next time slap me in the head until the grey matter starts working again.

    Meanwhile, I wouldn't be too upset if Three quietly cancelled Sunrise and put the money and resources into saving Three News and Campbell Live from terminal brain death, and commissioning a weekly current affairs show that operates slightly above the level of 'When Incestuous Breast Implants Go Bad'.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11931 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I wonder how much damage this has done to activism in exactly that sense - "can't be too careful these days". It could make people too wary of each other to become too friendly, reducing trust, etc.

    I don't know. I wouldn't in the least be surprised if there's always an element in any political organisation who are rather excited at the whole Secret Squirrel element. Real Life political activism is rather boring, thankless and progress is painfully slow. But this is cool -- like being in your own episode of Spooks!

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11931 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Legally, when does the evidence seen by the judge, which... warranted the warrant, become public? Does anyone know?

    I believe the arrests were timed because the expiry of the suppression of the evidence which led to the warrants was coming up, and once that expired, the media were going to run stories on it, and talk to the people involved. Or I might be conflating two things there, so don't quote me.

    But I'd have to wonder if the police didn't get a search warrant for Te Qaeda, whether they would have used spies to get more evidence to present to the judge. The extent to which spying can be used without warrants would surely be a major focus of any inquiry into spying on political groups.

    I think if the police were able to get someone inside the Te Qaeda groups, they wouldn't have bothered with the surveillance. It's much more difficult, less reliable, and a lot more dangerous - that cop that died earlier this year was killed when trying to plant surveillance. Particularly surveillance of people who have guns.

    They didn't have that, so they resorted to the warrants and surveillance.

    I'm surprised how uniform the refusal to see any principle in common is.

    To me the principle is: "police should only 'spy' on people, when they have a reasonable suspicion that they have, or are going to, commit a crime of some serious nature".

    So I see no common principle here. In Te Qaeda, that principle applied, in the material that Gilchrist passed on (I'd hesitate to call what he did spying) it didn't.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

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