Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Playing the Man

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    Selwyn Manning covered the attacks too, noting that Stephenson has taken legal advice with respect to what has been said about him by both political leaders and Defence Force chief Rhys Jones.

    If Sue, Grabbit and Runne have been consulted, I might want to tread carefully. But you’d really think Key would have learned his lesson from Audrey Young bitch-slapping him around after be accused her of fabricating quotes.

    If you're going to accuse a journalist of making shit up, it's a no-brainer that you better have rock solid evidence (preferably a first-generation recording with corroboration from several sources) to back you up.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Key gives of the vibe of every marketing guy I've ever worked with - he even has the cheesy grin - marketing of course is basically making stuff up for a living

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    One of the arguments put forward in Foreign Policy against torture was:

    The more you think about, the less sense torture makes. U.S. allies will become unwilling to conduct joint operations if they are concerned about how detainees will be treated in U.S. custody...

    It has indeed placed two NZ govts in a difficult position.

    I still support our involvement there.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I think a defamation claim against the sitting PM and the head of the military would be quite entertaining. Key might be able to use Privilege - I don't know where he made his statements, but I'm not sure that he's as astute as Winston and Helen about where he makes bold claims - but Jones sure as hell can't.
    Plus, if the claims by Key were made in Parliament, a complaint to the Speaker about misleading the House would be entirely in order. I'm sure Labour would just love to get their tooth (they haven't displayed enough competence to credit them with a full set) into that particular privilege issue in an election year.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • johnno,

    I guess the problem for Stephenson is that some/most of his NZDF and SAS sources will have talked only on conditions of anonymity. If the official NZDF sources say one thing, and his say another, then he might run into some problems.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    I shall try to tear myself away from finishing my thesis to attend "Media 7" this week; this is all getting far too exciting to pretend to ignore.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Good on you, everyone involved in this. I'm impressed to see that people aren't just going to let this one go.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    trailed by Gerry Brownlee (39.7%)

    Given Field-Marshall Brownlee's extraordinary powers under CERA and his reputation as a bully, that's hardly reassuring.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    marketing of course is basically making stuff up for a living

    ...and so many of our MPs are basically making stuff-ups for a living.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1931 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I’m sure Labour would just love to get their tooth (they haven’t displayed enough competence to credit them with a full set) into that particular privilege issue in an election year.

    While such a complaint would force some rather uncomfortable attention on whether the current leader of the Labour Party was more than a little economical with the ministerial vertias when he held the Defence and Foreign Affairs portfolios? Hell, at this point Labour politically and electorally has nothing left to lose so I’d call even odds. I'd bet that there are plenty of hacks, and research unit elves on both sides, going over every word Goff has ever said about Afghanistan and the SAS with the proverbial nit-pick.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And hey ho, look what's just turned up from the NZDF in response to our questions:

    STATEMENT FROM NZ DEFENCE FORCE RE TIMES TAKEN FOR OIA REQUESTS

    The New Zealand Defence Force is aware that some of its responses to Official Information requests received in the past have taken too long.

    To ensure our response times are reduced, since November 2009 we have ensured that all parts of the NZ Defence Force are aware of their responsibilities under the OIA.

    A new Official Questions system was introduced in 2009, which encompasses the processing of OIA requests, as well as Ministerial correspondence which can also involve OIA requests. This services-based system has improved the processing of requests. An enhanced system is planned for introduction in November 2011.

    Rounds of staff training have been undertaken to increase awareness in respect of the OIA and Privacy Act have been conducted. These have included lawyers and staff from the Ombudsmen's office.

    A uniformed officer has been posted to the position of Deputy Director Corporate and Ministerial Services in the Office of the Chief of Defence Force, augmenting the Ministerial Coordinators.

    The Defence Communications Group has been used in a proactive way to negotiate incoming OIA requests from the media, where it is necessary to focus broadly scoped requests. This approach enables the NZDF to respond more readily to OIA requests from the media.

    The items listed above form part of an overall package of measures to improve NZDF performance in processing OIA requests. Additionally, a number of measures are being taken to enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of document handling, which will enhance the processing of OIA requests.

    We expect that the combination of such measures will result in improved performance by the NZDF in meeting its statutory obligations under the OIA.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Irrespective of who's wrong or right, I wonder if Jon Stephenson has set off an Assange Effect - airing the establishment's dirty laundry which rattles them, who then try to shut him down by hook or crook.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5434 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman, in reply to johnno,

    I guess the problem for Stephenson is that some/most of his NZDF and SAS sources will have talked only on conditions of anonymity. If the official NZDF sources say one thing, and his say another, then he might run into some problems.

    True. But there are other things in play. Are the official NZDF people prepared to go on oath and make the denials? And while Stephenson can't produce witnesses or affidavits, his claims of having serving SAS members as sources will be lurking in the foreground. They're being called liars too.

    Might not win in court, but in public opinion? Would pollies really want that fight?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's great to see the NZDF has started thinking about process and training, though it'll probably take more than that and also some time to change the culture and thinking around the OIA.

    A uniformed officer has been posted to the position of Deputy Director Corporate and Ministerial Services in the Office of the Chief of Defence Force, augmenting the Ministerial Coordinators.

    I'd imagine this could be good or bad, depending largely on the person they've appointed.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    It's great to see the NZDF has started thinking about process and training,

    Yeah, maybe, or maybe they'll carry on obfuscating where "necessary" and pointing to the above message whenever accused of stonewalling. Who knows yet?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    A uniformed officer has been posted to the position of Deputy Director Corporate and Ministerial Services

    I don't hold out much hope that that isn't simply a typo and they're continuing to delay by other means, i.e. appointing an uninformed officer.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1931 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to 3410,

    Yeah, maybe, or maybe they'll carry on obfuscating where "necessary" and pointing to the above message whenever accused of stonewalling. Who knows yet?

    I'd trust this statement more if it actually came from the Ombudsman rather than the NZDF, which is full of [uniformed] staff who are trained to follow a non-civilian hierarchy and unlikely to enjoy being told what to do by civilians. Having a uniformed officer in Ministerial Services might give MS more influence over the organisation, or it could just cripple them. It depends entirely on who it is, their attitude and the instructions they've been given.

    Actually you guys are right. Short of the Ombudsman keeping the organisation on a short leash, NZDF's likely still screwed for OIA compliance.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    At the end of 60 minutes on Sunday Mike McRoberts actively endorsed Jon Stephenson as both a person and a journalist. Haven't been able to watch the 'Take No Prisoners' from the week before, as online stream having problems, but Jon Stephenson wrote a detailed response to Lt. Gen. Rhys Jones media statement which is on 60 Minutes website here.

    Sorry if this was linked previously but I couldn't see it, and it seemed kind of relevant.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Good on you, everyone involved in this. I'm impressed to see that people aren't just going to let this one go.

    And me.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    Given Field-Marshall Brownlee's extraordinary powers under CERA and his reputation as a bully, that's hardly reassuring.

    That's just response times, I think. I suspect the qualitative measure might be less flattering, but you'd have to ask I/S about that.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Rounds of staff training have been undertaken to increase awareness in respect of the OIA and Privacy Act have been conducted. These have included lawyers and staff from the Ombudsmen’s office.

    Wassamarra? The can't just issue orders, FFS?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to izogi,

    It’s great to see the NZDF has started thinking about process and training, though it’ll probably take more than that and also some time to change the culture and thinking around the OIA.

    Yeah, but nah... I'm all for a considered approach to things, but twenty eight years is more than enough time to get your shit together. While I'd like to extend the benefit of the doubt from the NZDF, I've heard much the same from local government and district health boards before. Giving the monkey a new job title doesn't mean shit, when the organ grinder intends to keep playing the same old Lily Allen cover:

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Irrespective of who's wrong or right, I wonder if Jon Stephenson has set off an Assange Effect - airing the establishment's dirty laundry which rattles them, who then try to shut him down by hook or crook.

    Sorta, in one way. But Stephenson hasn't set himself up as an enemy of the body politic. He's saying the system should work as advertised.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    He has set himself up as an enemy of the Governor General and Prime Minister though...

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • Paul G. Buchanan,

    The issue is that the National government sold the SAS re-deployment under false pretenses (i.e., that they would only be "trainers" that "assist" the Afghan CRU on counter-terrorism operations that do not involve the SAS capturing or detaining prisoners). As it turns out, as Wayne Mapp has now been forced to admit, it leads combat missions, kills insurgents and terrorist suspects and captures prisoners before handing them over the Afghan or US security officials.

    The National government and (sadly) NZDF leadership have repeatedly misled the public on the true nature of these operations as well as what Rules of Engagement and Operating Procedures were agreed to when the redeployment was authorised in 2009 (a re-deployment opposed by Labour on what looks to be its knowledge of the Geneva Convention "problems" inherent in the mission).

    All Jon Stephenson has done has exposed the official lies and deceit. He has done so without impugning the professionalism and ethics of the SAS itself. In other words, he has done what any honest investigative journalist should do, which is uncover the truth behind the official story. The government may not like that, but it is it that created the problem in the first place by not being upfront about the reasons and rules on which the redeployment decision was based. Slandering him does not alter that fact.

    Singapore/NZ • Since Apr 2011 • 14 posts Report Reply

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