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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Written By: - Date published: 12:43 pm, September 8th, 2011 - 36 comments
Categories: defence, racism - Tags:

Nicky Hager’s Other People’s Wars and the Urewera ‘terror raids’ fiasco raise, once again, serious questions. Are the security agencies that are meant to protect our society from threats, themselves operating outside the law and democratic control? Not according to Key. And he knows because he got advice. From whom? Why the security agencies of course.

No-one is saying that security agencies don’t have a valid role to play in protecting our society and our economy from international and domestic threats. The question is why they keep stuffing up or going beyond their legal and political mandates: have they been hijacked by personnel who want their agencies to play ‘war on terror’ like their bigger brothers overseas, or they are simply incompetent?

Someone ought to be guarding the guardians, checking that they are performing their role properly. Those who watch the watchmen should be independent of them and accountable to the public. Who does that sounds like? It sounds like the elected government’s job, eh?

Well, they’re not doing it.

First, Collins on the dropping of the Urewera raid charges.

Collins repeats the Police line that the impact of the raid on Tuhoe should not be confused with the legal process and is refusing to compensate the wrongly accused or even apologise to them. In other words, ‘we were right to assault your communities with armed officers and we still think you’re guilty, we’re just too incompetent to prove it’. Actually, it’s their continued belief without evidence that’s the incompetence.

When asked if she would still refuse to apologise if the remaining charges are dropped,  Collin’s replying was telling:

“we are not apologising for the work of New Zealand Police”

National wants to be seen as ‘tough on crime’, which means being seen to be ‘on the same side’ as the Police, which means that whatever the Police do, the government will never let itself be seen to be pulling them into line.

Then, there’s more zen of Key. The Herald ran an article on a defence report uncovered by Hager (all the typos are the Herald’s, not mine):

“The projects overseen by the [NZDF] through the PRT do no appear to be sustainable in any way and anecdotal evidence is that some have already failed,” the report said.

Among the failures were a road through a marketplace that had to be fixed within six months, and a school that was “built in the middle of a dry river bed”.

It concluded that the Defence Force was “not an effective aid provider”.

“Contractors are not well supervised, projects are not monitored (and often not visited) and security issues outweigh development … [There are] no mechanisms in place to monitor the impact, effectiveness or sustainability of projeccts.”

The review also questioned the PRT’s ability to provide anything beyond “minimal” security outside of the PRT compound.

Serious allegations that our purported purpose for being in Afghanistan is a farce, which fits uncomfortably well with the other evidence that we’re in fact there to provide a base for the CIA and that defence staff’s objective is to win the favour of the US, not to filfull a UN-mandated role helping the Afghani people.

Mr Key did not deny the report existed.

“I have no recollection of reading it,” he said.

But he strongly disagreed and described the aid work as “very effective”.

But how does he know if he hasn’t read the report?

“Our people have been actively been engaged in that reconstruction work – schools, hospitals and the like – provided support for the police force, [and] they’ve also proided some military capabilities to allow others – particularly NGOs – to get on and carry out their work.

“The feedback I had when I was in Bamiyan was that they were much loved for what they were doing and highly respected.”

Ah, ‘feedback’. Not from the Afghanis I presume, but from the Defence Force.

He also took issue with the main claim in the book – that senior Defence Force and Minsitry of Foreign Affairs officials were cosying up to the Americans against Government instructions, and keeping ministers in the dark.

“In terms of whether Defence or Mfat follow their mandate, as best as I can possibly judge that – of course you rely on the very people you’re talking about – I accept that they have followed their mandate,” Mr Key said.

He was totally confident the departments were following Government policy.

“I have no reason to believe otherwise.”

Well, when all you do is ask the people who are accused of going off reservation and making up their policy if that’s what they’re up to, they’re not going to say yes, are they?

So, on what basis does Key dismiss Hager’s book?

He said his officials had read the book and advised him

Hmm. Anyone else see a pattern here?

Who will guard the guards themselves if our elected officials either can’t be arsed doing their jobs or don’t think it’s in their political interests to be seen to be exercising oversight on our security agencies?

36 comments on “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

  1. Anne 1

    He said his officials had read the book and advised him.

    Jesus wept! Can you imagine Helen Clark saying that? No way. She would have found time to read the book and to analyse it’s authenticity for herself. This hollowed-out buffoon of a PM would be too ignorant and lazy to be capable of a sophisticated analysis anyway.

    • insider 1.1

      did she read “Seeds of distrust”?

      • Anne 1.1.1

        My recollection is Clark said she did but perhaps not all of it. After all officials are there to help, so they would have guided her as to the parts of the book she needed to read. That is what Key should have done but apparently he relied on other people telling him what was in it. Not good enough!

        • insider 1.1.1.1

          If I were Clark I would never have deigned to and treated it with the contempt it deserved. Same for Key.

          • ron 1.1.1.1.1

            and it deverves contempt why? Because it challenges your view of the world?

          • Anne 1.1.1.1.2

            Ok Mr/Ms Clever Dick, and how would he know to treat it with ‘contempt’ if he hadn’t read the book. Instead Key relied on the view of officials who may have had a vested interest in keeping the truth under wraps. I don’t know how authentic Hagar’s story is, because I havn’t read the book yet. But I don’t expect the prime minister of the day to express a view without having at least perused the critical sections first.

            • insider 1.1.1.1.2.1

              I have no expectation that the PM would have read it. I’m not endorsing or criticising Hager but If he is attacking the govt then one strategy would be to not give him credibility by admitting you have read the book. My advice would be he quite specifically not read it so that they don’t get drawn into discussions of what is on page 12, but only read the contents second hand ie copied extracts in reports, so they see it in the context of official views and can always say “the reports I’ve read say he said X but the truth is Y….”

              • Anne

                Ok insider, I think there is an element of agreement between us. He should have read something even if it was coloured by the appropriate officials’ perceptions. My reading of his statement is that Key didn’t read anything. Instead he relied on some sort of verbal riposte which, in my view, was not good enough. We’ll leave it at that. 🙂

  2. Anne 2

    Of course there is the other possibility that Key is setting up his officials to take the blame if conclusive proof should be forthcoming that Hagar’s claims are correct. That would be on a par with previous behaviour…

  3. insider 3

    Eddie some of your conclusions are just emotive rubbish. “wrongfully accused”, “without evidence”, ‘incompetence’.

    The argument is over the admissibility of evidence, not its existence. This went all the way to the SC and 3 courts gave 3 different views. Are you saying the HIgh and Appeal courts are incompetent becuase they agreed with the police on admissibility and the SC is solely competent becuase they didn’t? Hasn’t the SC done exactly what you wanted and acted as a curb on agency powers?

    Are you calling for all round police apologies whenever a case fails?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      sorry mate “wrongfully accused”, “without evidence”, ‘incompetence’ are fair judgements here.

      The fact that they have an emotive impact is because people have been emotionally fucked up by this course of events.

      Do you not recognise the validity of that?

      Are you calling for all round police apologies whenever a case fails?

      Are you calling the Urewera 18 just like any other case? I suspect you are being disingenous. This case is not particularly similar to any other recent case in NZ justice.

      NB Police apologies are called for whenever there have been serious failings or injustices in process or judgement.

      Are you claiming that in those instances, the police should not apologise?

      Like I said I suspect you are being disingenous, the focus is on a very specific case and set of events here, you trying to generalise it to every other case out there is not helpful.

      • insider 3.1.1

        The Urewera 18 are not the first people to go before the courts. They are not the first people to have protracted cases. They are not the first people to have cases subject to multiple appeals. This is not the first time courts have disallowed evidence. They are not the first to have their cases dismissed as a result. They are not the first to be really upset about being on charges.

        I think you and Eddie are being disingenuous in your outrage.

        • grumpy 3.1.1.1

          One day we may finally be able to see this “disallowed” evidence and make up our own minds. As the Crown are seeking the suppression orders lifted, we can assume that the “evidence” is compelling (otherwise a proscecution based on it would not have been pursued), it is the way it was obtained that was in dispute – a technicality that the SC has ruled on.

          Agree with insider, your outrage has no basis.

          • Blighty 3.1.1.1.1

            We can’t assume the evidence is compelling

            • grumpy 3.1.1.1.1.1

              We can assume it was pretty bloody good if they were prepared to front up to 3 courts with it, spend God knows how much and potentially make idiots of themselves by going to trial with it.

              I think we can assume it was compelling……

              • bbfloyd

                at which point do you remember that politics have as much impact as any real “evidence”?

                are you asserting that the police were not pursuing an agenda of their own when deciding how they acted regarding this case?

                or that there wasn’t any gains to be made from the process regardless of the outcome? indeed, the outcome was probably irrelevant to the amount of extra powers given to the police, and the political advantage accrued by reactionary, authoritarian operatives within the current administration…

                try not to forget that there is a longer game being played here… a bit of dignity is a small price to pay for what they have managed to get out of it…and soon forgotten..

            • insider 3.1.1.1.1.2

              I read the full police affadavit when it appeared on the net a couple of years ago and it convinced me that they were up to something very dodgy, and they were potentially dangerous idiots with fanciful dreams of revolution. I quite accept that’s not a legal test but I don’t think you can say there was no evidence and people were wrongfully accused. Plenty of people have gone down with much less.

              • bbfloyd

                so you agree the system is weighted towards those who can pay for competent advocacy then?

                or are you just spouting ill informed drivel… you are sure that every word of that affidavit was accurate then? no reason at all that it was published except for the police desire for open justice?

                no disrespect, but that is naive to assume our police are utterly apolitical…

                • insider

                  It’s a no brainer that the system is weighted. That’s the fundamental reason for legal aid. Why raise it?

                  The affadvit is a mixture of transcripts and observations from memory. I bleive it was leaked by a defendant and the police didn’t want it in the open. The bugging transcripts were fairly convincing to me that dodgy stuff was going on. That doesn’t mean everything described may have had the weight attached to it that the police were giving it.

                  The police are configured to maintain the integrity of the state. If you are revolutionary then obviously they are far from apolitical, because they target those seeking to upset the state. Do they treat National supporters differently from Labour ones? I suspect not (assuming alike circumstances). But they didn’t invent people running round with guns and bombs, and doing dodgy arms deals in city backstreets.

              • Adele

                Of course you would come to that conclusion based on what the police wrote in their report. That is the impression they wished to convey. A terrorist cell operating in the Ureweras! led by Osama bin Iti! – yeah right.

                • grumpy

                  …….and your contrary evidence is????????

                  • McFlock

                    somewhere in the region of 80% of the “revolutionaries” having their charges dropped due to dodgy “evidence”, and the remainder only having some relatively light (compared to terrorism, treason or conspiracy to commit murder) charges to defend would tend to support a “yeah, right” conclusion, with a twist of “most people simply whack off about the movie star of the day, rather than discovering a domestic terrorist cell”.

                  • Adele

                    Is he a lean mean killing machine? No. He’s is an overweight Maaori man with diabetes.
                    Is he under constant surveillance? No. You can readily find him in Ponsonby trying to convince Cezanne’s to make a boil-up. Does he have weapons of mass destruction? Many Paakehaa would probably describe boil-up in those terms. Is he likely to be assassinated by the SAS, nah, they’re too busy laughing at the stupidity of the Police, Government, and people like you.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Authoritarian mindsets must have their enemies for proper functioning.

                      After all, how can an authoritarian mindset feel the self righteousness that it so craves, without a target exercise that self righteous over?

          • felix 3.1.1.1.2

            grumpy: “As the Crown are seeking the suppression orders lifted, we can assume that the “evidence” is compelling”

            Err no, it’s actually the accused who want the suppression orders lifted. The crown want to keep them in place.

            Which rather upsets the particular line of your reasoning which follows.

            • insider 3.1.1.1.2.1

              From the ODT

              “Mr Moore said the Crown will apply to the High Court for orders to permit publication of various judgments, currently suppressed, in the interests of open justice for matters of significant public interest.”

              Over at Dim post some of the lawyers who appear to have been observing the goings on say that the defence has been consistently pushing the suppression requests. I suspect they are worried about prejudice issues, and the judges and crown seem to agree as some stuff will remain under wraps until the trial of the four.

              • grumpy

                Thanks insider!

                felix, you were saying……..

              • bbfloyd

                “the publication of various judgements”… are you suggesting that the police aren’t engaging in selective publication? if this was truly an attempt to engage in “open” justice, then i would assume they would be pushing for a blanket lifting of ALL the relevant material, not just the ones they deem useful….

                have no wish to insult your intelligence insider, but naive is still on the table here…

                just remember one thing…. the devil is in the detail… one needs to examine the wording in detail of these statements…. the propaganda becomes evident with a little thought….

                the first, and most obvious question to ask is ,,,what proportion of these “judgements” are the police pushing to have published? is it the totality of material, or a portion of them? and if they are being selective, then why are they being selective?

                assuming political neutrality on the part of senior police officers is, from personal experience, utterly naive…..

                check the history of senior police officers going on to become national mp’s if you doubt that….

  4. Afewknowthetruth 4

    The crux of the problem is that police throughout the western world have well-documented histories of fabricating evidence, closing ranks and lying in court to cover their corrupt practices.

    Who can you trust? Cetainly not a policeman. I have personally witnessed policemen lie on oath in court.

  5. Oligarkey 5

    The main problem is that these security and intel orgs aren’t accountable to anyone, and they are usually packed with old boys club types, who are there to serve their masters. This is true in most developed countries i understand, and particularly in the west. They’re here to push along right wing Washington consensus politics of the US and British establishment.

    It makes sense that they would be able to provide information that it useful to their mates who run for office. Ultimately they also hold the threat of persecution for rouge governments that aren’t following the proscribed monetarist and Neo-Liberalist agenda.

  6. Ana 6

    Didn’t the raids take place when Helen Clarke was prime minister ?

    • lprent 6.1

      Governments are not in direct charge of either the police or the military. They advise ministers and request budget from ministers, but do not accept orders from ministers except in the broadest mission parameters – declaring war, crushing boy racers, etc.

      That is the question that the title of the post refers to… Perhaps you should read it again?

  7. RobertM 7

    I have never read nonsense on par with Chris Trotters support of nonsensical police case. Its pure fantasy and fabriation like there case against Peter Ellis or anti nuclear activists like me. Anybody who stands against the dumb oppressive ordinary NZers monoculture is smashed by the police.

  8. RobertM 8

    Pro Maori activism smashes the sick social cohesion which Steph Maharey and Micheal Cullen aim to build. Real dissent even genuine vicious Peter Cook like political commedy will see you smashed in NZ. The operation 8 was pathetic failure of courage bty Clark in favour of some vigorous political dissent. A few pretty anarchists running around and the government see’s treason.

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