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Speaker: The Hollow Men: Initial Impressions

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  • Tom Semmens,

    You know, Bassett, Prebble, Douglas, De Cleene et. al. wrecked the Labour party and it took 12 ears to put it back together again. Now they've wrecked National as well. We are well rid of Brash, the last of that generation hard-right ideologues left in N.Z. politics.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish,

    BTW - Robert & Rich - from an I.T. perspective:

    In practice email is highly unlikely to be read unless someone *really* wants to. It's a bit less secure than a telephone call, but not much.

    Actually, a lot much. Unencrypted email is viewable by just about every network admin (and suitably priveledged lacky) of every organisation the email happens to pass through. The email is permanently stored on a number of servers. Unlike, say, a phone conversation where intercepting a call takes special software and/or remarkable timing. Relying on the ulturistic tendancies of geeks is a bad idea.

    Email contents can be encrypted, but this (though freely available) is rarely used, except by IT security geeks.

    I would say I was surprised that parliment didn't use encrypted email, but I'd be lying. It makes me wonder about how more sensitive information is handled.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    You know, Bassett, Prebble, Douglas, De Cleene et. al. wrecked the Labour party and it took 12 ears to put it back together again. Now they've wrecked National as well.

    Yes, that's one of the striking aspects for me too. All those people trying to put their little stamp on The Project. Some of them are/were members of other political parties, and yet they got inside National and ran their candidate. I noted a little while ago that at least some of the National caucus must have wondered exactly where Brash's loyalty lay, and I suspect that they'll quietly be thinking the same thing now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18893 posts Report Reply

  • larryq,

    This review and other comment on the book suggest that the book is a good study in how real politics works. This is probably true - it's nasty enough on the surface, but even more murky behind the scenes, as anyone who has been involved will tell you. What this suggestions does indicate, however, is that the sting has already been taken out of it by Brash's departure. I really wish that someone like Colin James had written it so that it would be a credible behind the scenes study of a political campaign.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    I would say I was surprised that parliment didn't use encrypted email,

    I'm pretty sure they do.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I really wish that someone like Colin James had written it so that it would be a credible behind the scenes study of a political campaign.

    Quite by chance, I picked up a copy yesterday of a book I've never seen before: 'The Making of a New Zealand Prime Minister' by Jim Eagles and Colin James. It's about the 1973 Labour victory. Looking forward to reading it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18893 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Michael Bassett is claiming that Hager has both forged the emails cited in the book and illegally hacked into the Parliamentary email system to obtain them.

    Quite a trick that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 901 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Regarding email, it should be noted that the killer Brethren-to-Brash email, the one Hager says Brash forwarded to Long, appears to have been to a national.org.nz address, and therefore would not have gone through the Parliamentary email system.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18893 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Michael Bassett is claiming ...

    That was the sort of smug, self-serving interview that would tend to confirm unfavourable perceptions of Bassett. I'm guessing his Dom Post editors are not too pleased with him.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18893 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Isn't it a little ironic that this morning on Nat Radio Brash called the book something like (wish I could quote this accurately) "complete garbage" (and the words "utter fiction" have been used a lot) when, according to those who've read it, about half the text was written by Brash and friends? In future when National make campaign claims, it'll be tempting to respond- "Now _that_ should be filed under fiction..."

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1571 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    Wheeee! I got my copy!

    Dymocks on Lambton Quay has about 70 copies not already pre-ordered, in case anyone needs a copy.

    Let the speed-reading begin!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 329 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    That was the sort of smug, self-serving interview that would tend to confirm unfavourable perceptions of Bassett. I'm guessing his Dom Post editors are not too pleased with him.

    He was dreadful this morning, so wrapped up in his own importance (and talk about a name-dropper). Does anyone know whether claiming Hager forged documents constitutes libel? I would have thought comparing Hager to David Irving was sailing a bit close to the wind on that too. Perhaps Lange was right when he suggetsed his father had dropped Bassett on his head when he was born?

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 562 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Asserting that someone forged something is certainly defamatory (NZ abolished the libel/slander distinction a number of years ago). Unless Basset can prove it true, however (perhaps he has a sent items folder that keeps everything and what Hager claims he sent, he doesn't have a copy of).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3004 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Simpson,

    Am I the only one a little sad to see Brash falling on his sword over this? I personally would prefer an easily manipulated dropkick like him in charge of National, rather than someone who may be capable of forming an opinion of his own like Keys.

    I can't wait to get a copy of the book over here. Thanks for the review in the meantime.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Muriel Lockheed,

    Bassett was certainly awful, self important, pompous and defamatory on NatRad this am.

    But I have to say I enjoyed hearing Hooten admitting that actually he is embarassed about the book and his parts in it and that he had acted like a bit of a "dick". (my word not his, but it is appropriate!) Made my morning.

    Wellywood • Since Nov 2006 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • John Francis Logan,

    Interesting little thread on e-mail security ... but doesn't every phone call, e-mail, etc, get picked up by the Americans via Waihopai?

    Katikati • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Yes, but I'm pretty sure Nicky Hager isn't on their xmas card list.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 841 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Yes, but I'm pretty sure Nicky Hager isn't on their xmas card list.

    No, I think he makes some of their other lists though!

    Technically, most emails are terribly insecure, and probably several people unrelated to either sender or receiver could have 'hacked' Don's email and gotten this information. None of those people are Nicky Hager however.

    With any information technology system, the weakest security point is the person/people using it. You know, the password on the postit note on the screen. The web browser that automatically logs you into your email. The computer that isn't tied down and the office door is left open.

    I have yet to see any reason to disbelieve Nicky's claim that the emails were given to him by people who had the right to have them. They were either sent to them originally, or perhaps they worked for people that they were sent to.

    This absolutely wouldn't be the first time that people have sought out Nicky Hager and given him information for their own purposes. To write 'Secret Power' he was given what amounted to international state secrets by someone on the inside. And you better believe Nicky won't reveal who his sources were - his entire writing career is built on people trusting him that they can leak stuff to him, and their identity will never be revealed by him.

    As for the rest of it, he's a very capable researcher and is able to find and pull apart publicly available information very well. He was able to identify all the staff who (secretly) worked for the GCSB at one stage through the use of a phonebook and the electoral roll. I bet if you asked him about his work he'll give you an answer along the lines of 'All the information is out there and available. People normally just don't look for it. I looked, and there it was.'

    Since Nov 2006 • 6181 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    it should be noted that the killer Brethren-to-Brash email, the one Hager says Brash forwarded to Long, appears to have been to a national.org.nz address, and therefore would not have gone through the Parliamentary email system.

    That makes more sense to me.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    For an ISP employee to access email without good cause is almost certainly illegal (s216b, Crimes Act). Most ISPs would have procedures about that sort of thing. I'd suspect it would be harder to make a case against a Nat party person with access to IT systems - they could probably claim that their job included political chicanery and backstabbing and hence the email access was part of that..

    [Hamish: in the 1980's, it would have been right to say that email messages passed through numerous computer systems. That was because the Internet of that era was lashed together from various academic and other systems all forwarding data on an ad-hoc basis as well as doing pipe bending calculations or whatever.

    Nowadays, once a message is out of your home / company it's pretty much in telco-land until it hits the recipient's home/company. Hacking into those servers is no easier than opening up a Telecom wiring cabinet and attaching an iPoD to your telephone circuit]

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4459 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Pure speculation... but one of the great things about email is you can log on from anywhere and have it all at your fingertips. And if you're using some form of webmail to access email from a variety of computers- the sort of thing an on-the-go type like Dr Brash is certain to have done- then the possibility of (carelessly) leaving behind your username and password always exists. (I don't know what the legality of using such a password and username is- probably dodgy.) But the scenario of someone creeping into Dr Brash's office and accessing the hard-drive of his desktop was always a bit "mission improbable". Perhaps all it took was "can I use your computer to check my email" to someone in the Nats... and then hurriedly hitting the "let windows remember this password" button.....

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1571 posts Report Reply

  • Verpal Singh,

    One of the intriguing things, in my mind, is the way National's grab for power appears to have consciously mirrored that which worked for so long for the Republicans in the US.

    Terence, that should worry people not only in this country but everywhere in the world.

    Hager book seems to be the equivalent of Nixon's White House recordings and Kissinger's transcripts of his telephonic conversations, becoming public.

    What should be worrying all those who implicitly believe in public's say in running of a country is that:

    1. methods perfected by the American intelligence agencies to destabilize "unfriendly" regimes all over the world are being used by secretive groups with hidden agendas in their own countries.

    2. American intelligence agents were the first to employ manipulation (perfected in Latin American countries) in their own country to install a government (Ronald Reagan's) that works according to Intelligence agency agenda. The fact that National nearly won the last election testifies to the vulnerability of the electoral system -- and the importance that MMP plays in providing some sort of safeguard against this weakness.

    3. Media has increasingly become a tool in the hands of these manipulators. Imagine the "state of awareness" we will be in if there were no blogs and we were fed information only through audio-visual and print media.

    4. This manipulativeness isn't limited only to those working in privately controlled media, but amongst those in public broadcasting too. The example of Paul Henry, TVNZ's Breakfast show host, illustrates this amply. He has brought to TV the attack-"journalism" of talk-back radio where any "hostile" respondent is rudely put-down, or made an example of, so that anyone else who was thinking of disagreeing with the broadcaster would do so by braving the coming insult. For instance, in today's show he interviewed Mathew Hooton (groan!) with kid gloves. At the time of viewer feedback, he read a letter asking why Hooton wasn't asked about Hager's book especially when he is also in it. Henry's sneering reply was that the "interview was on a different topic and we have already talked about Hager's book. So there you go." Interview was on National's current state and today's leadership election. Very different topic.

    I suggest there should be a running ticker that says what the affiliations of those speaking on a topic are -- Mathew Hooton was advisor to Brash and Paul Henry is a former National candidate. Unless of course the journalists are professional enough to maintain their objectivity. A case in point - Mark Sainsbury's "Insight" programme on Rugby Stadium. I am sure Mr Sainsbury votes in elections. But no one could have claimed to know which party he votes for after seeing the programme.

    And that for me is what differentiates a journalist from a propagandist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Perhaps all it took was "can I use your computer to check my email" to someone in the Nats...

    Correct me if I'm wrong (because I ain't checking) but didn't Brash say today or in the weekend that he has several email addresses, but only one that he himself reads? Staffers check the rest.

    Mystery solved if you ask me.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    the scenario of someone creeping into Dr Brash's office and accessing the hard-drive of his desktop was always a bit "mission improbable". Perhaps all it took was "can I use your computer to check my email" to someone in the Nats... and then hurriedly hitting the "let windows remember this password" button.....

    That wouldn't explain how Hager was able to get copies of Nationals internal polling results, schedules, minutes of meetings, and interoffice memos, let alone the emails between Keenan, Long and Sinclair.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 901 posts Report Reply

  • larryq,

    methods perfected by the American intelligence agencies to destabilize "unfriendly" regimes all over the world are being used by secretive groups with hidden agendas in their own countries...

    Ridiculous. Let's not forget that:

    1. the Exclusive Bretheren connection didn't help the nats at the last election. I thought it was a bloody stupid decision to risk being tainted by an association with people who are so obviously nutters, and so it proved to be.
    2. NZ is such a small place. It's naive to think that such things can be kept hidden.
    3. We have a long tradition of regularly getting rid of Governments, and hopefully that continues, although it worries me that National don't have an obvious coallition partner, which could mean that we are destined to have smug labour governments most of the time.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report Reply

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