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Journos need to get serious on spy Bill

Written By: - Date published: 6:43 am, July 29th, 2013 - 64 comments
Categories: Spying - Tags:

We know now that the Army spied on a New Zealand journalist while trying to find his sources exposing actions the Army wanted kept quiet. They got their spy data from the Yanks. We also know that Key’s man tried to get Andrea Vance’s phone records for his inquiry into the GCSB report leak (he failed on that but did get her swipe card records)

Key’s new spying law will mean our own spooks can legally spy Kiwi journos. Experience shows it will happen. Time for that ‘democracy under attack’ Herald campaign. Time for journos to start taking this seriously.

Time for Dunne, who called the Army’s spying on Stephenson “appalling and unacceptable” to reconsider being a ‘willing seller’ of our liberty and privacy.

In a democracy, we don’t give the State powers that it doesn’t need and/or that are open to abuse. We don’t create a turn-key totalitarian state just because it’s ‘convenient for the spies’.

Yeah, John Key might not instigate a programme of spying on and attacking journos who are critical of him to stifle free and democratic discourse (although, he was the fucker who ordered police to raid media outlets on the eve of an election). And Shearer or any other future PM might not do it either just because Key’s given them the power.

But that’s the thing about creating a turn-key totalitarian state and just assuming that no leader will ever turn the key – when it happens, it’s too late.

For more ‘mis-informed’ commentary on these latest revelations I recommend Geddis and Danyl. And if you do think mainstream journos are taking this seriously, here’s Rachel Smalley making a braindead ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ argument about her own privacy

64 comments on “Journos need to get serious on spy Bill”

  1. Tom Gould 1

    If advertising revenue was threatened by the GCSB Bill, the media would be in high gear. But it isn’t, so they aren’t. News is infotainment, the more sensational the better, in order to boost readers and viewers. Maybe back in the old days when journalism was a profession and the fourth estate meant something, they might have been moved to act. But it’s just another business now, just another commodity, like hamburgers or sugar drinks. And the ego-driven celebrities who masquerade as journalists and editors are safe, pretty much untouchable, and they know it. So why worry?

  2. DavidC 2

    How is it different under the proposed law?

    10 years ago the GCSB would have tapped the phones of a churnalist if a Judge and the PM had signed off on it.

    • Veutoviper 2.1

      “How is it different under the proposed law?”

      No Right Turn covers this in his two detailed posts yesterday on the situation – and many other points re the legislation that applies to the NZDF.

      http://www.norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/a-point-that-needs-making.html

      http://www.norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/we-can-no-longer-trust-our-armed-forces.html

      I recommend reading these posts, as well as Geddis and DimPost, for their detail.

      Zet – do you have a source for the Dunne statement calling the Army’s spying on Stephenson “appalling and unacceptable”?

      (Straight question (not criticism) as I would be interested in reading/hearing it.)

      • BM 2.1.1

        From one of those links

        (Of course, there’s also the SIS, who can spy on “subversive” investigative journalists with total legality, despite it being a gross breach of the democratic principles they supposedly exist to defend.).

        So, no difference at all, instead of just the right hand being able to spy on you, now the left hand can.

        • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.1

          If you can’t see the difference then surely we should scrap all the things like the SIS, the Police, the NZDF, the IRD, Customs, and the MSD, and just have a thing called, the Government and be done with it. Think of the efficiencies!

          • BM 2.1.1.1.1

            Good idea, save a ton of money by removing that unnecessary double up.

            I quite like The Ministry of Truth and Purity, has a good ring to it and you can also abbreviate it to MTP, which sounds quite threatening.

      • r0b 2.1.2

        Zet – do you have a source for the Dunne statement calling the Army’s spying on Stephenson “appalling and unacceptable”?

        https://twitter.com/PeterDunneMP/status/361420748952305664

    • tracey 2.2

      I would rather have a judge than a govt appointed person.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Smalley should learn from the call tracing of Associated Press journalists in the US. Her sources and contacts will dry up if she accepts the govt collection of her communications and metadata. Do these people have no understanding of history?

    It really is turkeys voting for Christmas.

  4. Sable 4

    Mainstream NZ journalists if they can be called that, perhaps more rightly scribes for the National party based government, have no interest in the truth so they have nothing to fear. There are few left who even make a pretense of being objective, they have already sold out to the far right so have nothing to fear from Keys dodgy spy bill.

    • BM 4.1

      There is nothing to fear.
      It may pay for a few of you tin foilers to up your medication as your paranoia seems to be getting the better of you.

      • Sable 4.1.1

        Our neighbors had a Chihuahua that reminds me of you. Decrepit little shit had no teeth but didn’t stop it from trying to bite your ankles from time to time.

      • scotty 4.1.2

        BMs not full o’shit, he just thinks privacy is over rated ,
        Thats why BM has no cutains, does’nt use passwords, and openly displays his financial records.
        Dont you BM .

        [lprent: Preemptively acting before it arises. Arguing if people should or should not use a pseudonym (which is one of the directions this will trend in) tends to irritate me. It is an old debate and is effectively covered by policy. If anyone wants to pursue it yet again, then I’d suggest they find somewhere else to do it before I make it mandatory that they do. ]

      • tricledrown 4.1.3

        Boringly Mindless something original please those words were used by Stalin Hitler Mao Saddam Hussein!

  5. tracey 5

    Oh good. Bm says theres nothing to fear so we just need to stop giving a shit.

  6. weka 6

    “In a democracy, …”

    Do we have anything other than a shell of democracy now? I thought we had government by “enough people voted for us a few years ago and now we will do what the fuck we want”.

    As for journalists, is Smalley a journo or a presenter? (I don’t watch enough TV to know).

    • Tracey 6.1

      she works for a commercial organisation whose bottom line is profit. The bottom line for any show is advertising which is determined by ratings. Ratings are high when people see what they want to see… I hope that answers your question.

      • weka 6.1.1

        Not really. John Campbell is in the same situation but is arguably a journalist rather than just a presenter.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.1.1.1

          I doubt it would be possible to do the job Smalley does – and she can be very good at it – without ownership of the material.

          Working on live television, there is a constant pressure to get it right, because if something does happen, you can’t fix it. Then there are deadlines, someone talking in my earpiece the whole time I’m on air.

          “People want to see” good current affairs. Sometimes we see it, sometimes we don’t.

          • weka 6.1.1.1.1

            OAK, I wasn’t implying that presenting is a job without skill, just that it’s not journalism necessarily.

            I saw Smalley ask the question about whether she would be spied on and it was pretty vacuous and stupid, given all the information that is out there now about the GCSB.

        • Olwyn 6.1.1.2

          John Campbell has a history of taking up social justice cases. In the current climate it is easier to draw on a history of that kind than it is to create one.

  7. One Anonymous Knucklehead 7

    If a free press is the enemy, what exactly are they defending? It sure as hell isn’t democracy or freedom.

    Military action against civilians is a war crime.

  8. blue leopard 8

    I suspect Journos fear losing their jobs if they get serious on this or any issue.

  9. Rosetinted 9

    More than journos need to worry about this clampdown on information to the masses. It is the sort of thing that Fiji has produced. They have a very deeply mendacious leader just as we have.

    We don’t want to be put in a helpless situation by our armed forces getting to the top of the hill and holding it against the unarmed citizens. The army is always tempted to step in when things get messy to restore order you know.

    And if we got to the stage of having a lot of people angry and upset together in one place protesting then we only have to have a small number from the boondocks come down with their hunting guns. They wave them round freely at home and show little conscience whether they kill people or animals – there’s trouble with a capital T.

    There are numbers of feral types in the country just under the horizon of most people. And there always has to be an outlet for negative emotions, blame, lack of respect – the rural people rose up against the intransigent townies and the rioting masses in times of uprest and need. I don’t think hey have learned much since then about nationhood and mutual dependence. Their just the sort that H….r had as bully boys and standover men on his way to political eminence.

    • Chooky 9.1

      Rosetinted +1 ….NZers are not the enemy and they are being framed as the enemy….The real issue is totalitarianism and paranoia…..and for what reasons?

      I continue to hope against hope that Dunne and the Maori Party and Nat MPs will walk away and refuse to sign off on this Bill at the last minute.

      • blue leopard 9.1.1

        @Chooky

        +1

      • Rosetinted 9.1.2

        Chooky
        Don’t know what you are clucking about. The problem of the masses being listened in to by those at the top is –totalitarian. That’s what I’m afraid of. I thought that I expressed it at the beginning.

        The point is that if it gets through, there are dark results sure to follow. I have just expressed the reality behind your words – totalitarian and paranoia.

        And don’t count on Dunne – we have made too many jokes about him, for him to act differently and change our irony and despair to joy. Maori Party – no laughing about them, just crying.

        • blue leopard 9.1.2.1

          @ Rosetinted,

          I think Chooky was agreeing with you (note the +1)

        • Chooky 9.1.2.2

          Rosetinted….you misunderstand ….I was agreeing with and endorsing what you said!

          • Rosetinted 9.1.2.2.1

            Sorry Chooky – I am a bit on edge at the moment with all that’s going on politically so leapt to wrong conclusion.

      • Veutoviper 9.1.3

        Chooky – and Rosetinted at 9.1.2 – the Maori Party OPPOSE the GCSB Bill. They are not supporting it.

        PS: Sorry for the caps and bold – but MP have said all along they are opposed and they did not vote for it on the first reading.

        That is why Dunne has the casting vote – ie 59 Nats, 1 Act and 1 Dunne votes total 61 versus a total of 60 for those opposed (Labour, Greens, NZF, MP, Mana, Brendan Horan).

        • Chooky 9.1.3.1

          @ Veutoviper …..Thanx for that correction …I guess I get confused because I think the Maori Party are propping up this government and I just wish they would walk away from it and bring it down.

          I still hope Dunne will do a u-turn at the last minute and maybe some of those other Nat MPs and destroy this Bill.

          • Veutoviper 9.1.3.1.1

            No problem, Chooky. I am a ‘facts’ person, and sometimes get annoyed when I see incorrect things being said and not checked – especially when I basically agree with the basic premise of the comment!

            I also hope that Dunne or someone does a u-turn to stop this dreadful Bill – but I am not holding my breath. Surely at least one of those 59 Nat MPs must be feeling some disquiet by now ….

            • Rosetinted 9.1.3.1.1.1

              veutoviper
              Thanks for the correction. Now it’s just seeing if Dunney can go round the U-bend and see a new vista.

              Makes me think of Clive James story from his boyhood days in Australia when the sewage was manhandled away by a strong and stoic guy who once tripped with unfortunate consequences for himself and all around. Should happen to Dunne, he deserves it.

              • Veutoviper

                LOL – and more. Re Dunne, that is. But don’t see Dunny going round the U-bend, unfortunately.

        • Paul 9.1.3.2

          I thought were a small government party.
          How does their libertarian views fit in with a surveillance state?
          What hypocrites.

    • Tim 9.2

      +1 RoseT. You’re absolutely correct in drawing the analogy with Fiji. It’s interesting too that I’ve always thought of John Key as having the same dysfunction as Frank Bainimarama – i.e. that of the malignant narcissist.
      http://discombobulatedbubu.blogspot.co.nz/2007/06/national-diagnosis-alert-bai-is.html

      • Rosetinted 9.2.1

        Tim
        Mr (Colonel/High Commander?) F B can sound so sincere and concerned to do everything right, and only unfortunate happenings have prevented the smooth progression to elections which he is doing his ultimate to facilitate in every way that seems correct and right and……
        Great talker – like John Key.

        We could all save money by putting up a cardboard face of a composite number of acceptable visages, and play pre-recorded messages from Key or our new top person, leaving them more time to advance their affairs in a manner that is totally satisfactory to all concerned. So not us unfortunately. Of course we are concerned but their concern is a different meaning of the word.

  10. Chooky 10

    Tim +1….thanks for this…interesting but very scarey stuff ….

    I think one of the problems people have in understanding totalitarianism, until it is too late, is that they find it difficult to get a grip on the underlying psychological pathology of those leaders bringing such a society into being…. It is incomprehensible until it is too late …and then it is named for what it is….but a lot of damage has been done in the meantime.

    Living together in a civil democratic society , most people are brought up to be trusting and co-operative …..and when a leader and a political force acts counter to this….is damaging and destructive…. it is hard to get your head around the reasons why and the motivation …… It is confusing for most people because it violates everything they have been brought up to believe.

  11. Arfamo 11

    TV3 to apologise for Sacha McNeil’s jonolism on 3 News tonite.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv/8977658/GCSB-protesters-lay-TV-complaint.

  12. Anne 12

    Anyone hear the mealy mouthed Jonathan Coleman on TV news tonight?

    Made a meal of the claim that Sir Bruce Ferguson signed off on the “journos to be treated as subversive” order.

    I can guess what the Defence Force mad hatters did – buried the order amidst a myriad of fine print and he missed it. Despite its highly controversial content no-one thought to point it out to him eh?

    Here he is on Morning Report… before he found out he had apparently signed off on it.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/2563668

  13. Rosetinted 13

    Anne
    Sir Bruce explained that at the time he was in charge of 13.000 (I think) personnel and the proposed legislation just slipped by him and at the time he had a helpful orang-utang as his assistant, with an extra long-arm reach for grabbing bits of paper, and though he had good physical skills his brain was not such that would allow extensive and analytic sorting of political and ethical importance of said papers. (He actually didn’t say that but he would have given the chance.

    Notice Morrissey, I am owning up to my attempts at flights of fancy.)

    • Morrissey 13.1

      Notice Morrissey, I am owning up to my attempts at flights of fancy.

      ?????

  14. Anne 14

    Rosetinted

    I had a few dealings with Bruce Ferguson when I worked at an Airforce Base 20 odd years ago. He is no fool. Highly intelligent. He was Helen Clark’s choice for Defence Force chief and I gather she chose him above several more senior Defence personnel. He would almost certainly have conservative political views, but he is trustworthy and would have carried out the government’s policies exactly as expected of him. We now know there was a lot of very grubby stuff going down in Afghanistan involving the Americans and NZ Defence personnel (see Hagar’s “Other People’s Wars”) but I’m certain he would have been kept in the dark in the same way the Clark government was not informed.

    • Rosetinted 14.1

      Anne
      I did think that there was a lot for him to keep an eye on as well as draw up legislation. But who was responsible for the legislation drafted, who instructed and who would slip that totalitarian stuff past him?

      I did get the idea that the army didn’t see how it could serve there under the USA paws and be pussy cats for NZ principles.
      It is possible that the situation did so develop and that it ended up being a conspiracy against the Labour government and Helen Clark.

      • Veutoviper 14.1.1

        As I understand it, the bits about journalists were in a “Manual” – not in legislation. Therefore it is possible (more likely probable) that it did not make it anywhere near Bruce Ferguson for sign off. I also have history of Ferguson as has Anne, and would consider him someone of high integrity. When he was interviewed on Checkpoint tonight re the fact that the Manual was written etc during his tenure, he did not try to cover up or pass the buck; simply that he had no memory of it but it happened on his watch and in effect he was ultimately responsible (or similar).

        • Rosetinted 14.1.1.1

          Well great Sir Bruce is fronting up. But what a bad system. If something can become equivalent to passed legislation when it isn’t and hasn’t been passed by gubmint then I think that stinks.

          I’ll bet I would be amazed at the number of ‘Manuals’ there are around. And having a great effect on citizens but which have had only a cursory glance from them. Probably like ‘What’s this bloody thing about”?

          Things not passed by The House should be examined by a democratically elected group of citizens called The Watchdogs. It would be like being on jury service, but the difference would be that these people would have done a short perhaps half-year course on the various types of law-making and the divisions of that for different purposes. More head stuff needed when dealing with our country’s controls and rights.

          • Anne 14.1.1.1.1

            It was an in-house manual Rosetinted – a kind of book of regulations – which has nothing to do with the government. They play no governing role in it’s contents. The manuals are constantly being amended (and vetted by in-house legal beagles from time to time) and it would be easy for a Service chief to not be aware of an amendment unless someone had the foresight – as they should have in this case – to point it out specifically to that chief. In Ferguson’s case I think the shit would have hit the fan and he would have been wanting to know who was the twat who put it there?

            • Veutoviper 14.1.1.1.1.1

              +1, Anne.

            • Rosetinted 14.1.1.1.1.2

              Anne
              Can organisations that are government controlled or para-government then abolish democratic principles by in-house manual?
              I find it interesting as to who writes the laws these days and who shapes the thinking- there used to be an in house law drafting office in Wellington. We have numbers of powerful adjuncts to government that have been given rights to control and invade citizens lives in ways that flag democratic principles. Where does true power lie then – in the government’s head or its brawny arms?

              I looked up para-government on google and found an article about how they are defined in the USA and how some in the Democratic Party see them and their power. This relates to us well I think.
              This is from Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com
              Also there was a small advertisement asking people to protest against a certain man –
              Mitch McConnell [old white guy] has staged 413 filibusters causing monumental gridlock in Washington. With an invitation to – sign and join the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

              So the article demonstrates how government can be taken over by malign self-interested people or groups, and states –

              The formal government itself has all sorts of different layers to it — the current crop of political appointees, the career employees, etc. But for the moment, let’s put everyone who draws a paycheck from the United States government to one side and focus on everyone else.
              Who are we talking about? The journalists. The lobbyists. The people who work in the think tanks and quasi-think tanks where purported policy experts work. The employees of the majority activist groups on both sides of the political spectrum. The list could go on and on. But this gives a basic flavor of who we’re talking about.

              We’re coming off of, or at least we’ve had a period of (because who knows about the future) thirty plus years of conservative dominance of Washington. By some measures you could say forty years. But at least thirty, notwithstanding Bill Clinton’s eight years in office.
              That conditions a generation of people with mindsets based around Republicans being the party of power, the party whose ideas get vindicated at the polls. Most of all Washington is a city that coddles up to and worships power.

              But a generation of one party holding the reins selects for certain kinds of journalists in key positions of power, the policy experts at the think tanks who get the journalists calls, the lobbyists who move the most money and so forth. You build up a set of assumptions about what kinds of people and ideas are respectable and which aren’t. Which are old-fashioned, which are ‘cutting edge’ and so forth. Who defines conventional wisdom?…

              The role of organized money obviously plays a big role too, though money’s partisan attachments are highly, highly malleable. The most important factor is the para-government and its entrenched attitudes.

      • Anne 14.1.2

        It is possible that the situation did so develop and that it ended up being a conspiracy against the Labour government and Helen Clark.

        Oh yes, Rosetinted there was a conspiracy against the Clark government. There were Defence Service personnel who hated their guts. All they wanted to do was play war games with the Americans and they blamed Labour for the anti nuclear policy and the subsequent stand-off.

        I’ve got quite a story to tell about my time on that base.The word went out that I (a civilian on base) was involved with the Labour Party and some seemed convinced I was a Clark govt. informant. It was crap of course. I wasn’t even in politics at the time. They put me under surveillance and you wouldn’t believe how amateurish it was… same car with same driver used to follow me to and fro from work. It wasn’t all that happened but the details will have to wait for a better political climate.

        .

        • Rosetinted 14.1.2.1

          Anne
          You don’t sound keen about being a celebrity. With government groupies. How unpleasant to have that going on. It would certainly be enlightening as a study of paranoia. Was Dr Sutch being tracked at that time I wonder?

          • Anne 14.1.2.1.1

            You don’t sound keen about being a celebrity.

            No, I wasn’t at the time but can see a funny side to it now. A study of acute paranoia it certainly was…

            Dr Sutch’s bete noire was the SIS in the early to mid 1970s. My ‘adventures’ coincided with the big USA/NZ anti-nuclear standoff – between 1986 and 1992.

            • karol 14.1.2.1.1.1

              Whao! That sounds like a terrible experience. And kind of confirms Trotter’s point:

              THE NEW ZEALAND DEFENCE FORCE is no friend of democracy: never has been, and, as presently constituted, never will be. The Army, Navy and Air Force do not exist to serve the people of New Zealand, they exist to defend the Crown.

              • Anne

                Thanks for that Karol. Trotter is correct.

                I’m now more determined than ever to one day tell the full story of my experiences between 1984 and 1992 – the years of the campaign of terror against some of us perceived to be a part of the anti-nuclear movement. It wasn’t confined to the NZ military services either. There were off-shore entities mixed up in it too. Robert Green and Kate Dawes know a bit about that.

            • Rosetinted 14.1.2.1.1.2

              Anne
              I missed anyone mentioning the 9toNoon Radionz trio of interviewees on the defence force and journalists today. In case it hasn’t been widely heard – it was good – Paul Buchanan creates confidence with his straight talking, then Rick Neville and Rodney Harrison – all with something to say of interest.

              http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon
              Defence Force warning that journalists a ‘subversion’ threat ( 18′ 17″ )
              09:08 Alarm at leaked Defence Force document warning that certain investigative
              journalists a ‘subversion’ threat. With Rick Neville – Editorial director of the Newspaper Publishers Association. Dr Paul Buchanan – an Auckland based strategic analyst and political risk and market intelligence consultant. He was formerly with the US Defense Department. Rodney Harrison QC – Auckland lawyer.

              • Anne

                Thanks Rosetinted. Paul Buchanan is always worth listening to.

                Btw, I need to make a correction. My experiences at the the Air-Force base took place under the Lange/Palmer govt. not the Clark govt., but Clark was a prominent minister and eventually deputy prime-minister in the fourth Lab, govt. so there was a link to her as well. Defence personnel would have been aware I had previous close political associations with Helen, and that alone would have been enough to put me in the ‘subversive suspect’ basket.

                The whole point of my story shows that this culture of suspicion and paranoia against ordinary citizens by some within the establishment class has been alive and well for many years. It’s not just a new development.

  15. instauration 15

    Very importantly; – the NZDF employs a cadre of “journalists” in their own ranks in the Defence Communications Group. All current and recent employees are easily Googlable by name, rank, mobile#(all 021) and Release.
    Maybe we should question each of those souls about; dilemma, distress and loyalty – are they really Journalists or just spinners ?

  16. Jenny 16

    Maybe some here should stop using the old Winston Peters sectarian trick of shooting the messenger. Then maybe journalists might start taking their valid concerns more seriously.

  17. One Anonymous Knucklehead 17

    “The art of warfare is deception” – of course journalism is subversive of that, but any soldier who thinks the “problem” can be fixed by treating journalists as enemies is a piss poor soldier.

  18. captain hook 18

    journalists need to get serious about everything.
    at the moment the cohort is made up of spoon fed infantilised capons.

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