Sue Bradford
Bradford’s Truth – SIS, the watchers and the watched

Hi, here’s my regular column for the New Zealand Truth – this time looking at the SIS involvement in my life – and mine in theirs:

Last month the SIS released a heavily edited version of the file they kept on me from 1968 onwards.

The file is evidently in two volumes, and 330 classified reports on me have been withheld. The few lessons I take from what I have been allowed to see so far are that:

  • The SIS was very active during the Cold War period in relation to anyone they judged to be subversive, even when just a teenager at school – as I was when the spooks first started keeping an eye on me.
  • They had an agent right inside one organisation to which I belonged, and quite possibly within others as well. The spies weren’t quite as incompetent as some commentators made out in the Playboy and meat pie days.
  • However, the information they collected on me was quite random, with rather a lot missing and some strange fabrications and suppositions.
  • The way my file comes to an abrupt end in early 1999 is a little odd as I was still very involved in organising protests against the APEC meeting later that year. This sudden conclusion may have something to do with the fact that after Keith Locke’s records were released in early 2009 the SIS came under heavy pressure not to keep files on sitting MPs – even though I didn’t enter Parliament until December 1999.

I welcome the recent increase in media and public scrutiny of the SIS.

I believe we all need to know more about the agency paid for by the taxpayer and tasked with identifying, watching and analysing people who are a threat to New Zealand’s security.

While there will always be a need for a high degree of secrecy in its operations because of their very nature, I reckon more should be done to review and cull personal files that are kept on people like myself and goodness knows how many others.

Even the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Paul Neazor, said in March that he was concerned about the SIS’s ‘vacuum cleaner approach’ to collecting information on suspect individuals, and that security needs should be weighed up against peoples’ right to privacy.

Parliament has a special committee on security and intelligence which is supposed to have oversight of the SIS.

Its current members are John Key, Rodney Hide, Tariana Turia, Phil Goff and Russel Norman.

I certainly hope the committee is doing more these days than just accepting whatever the SIS Director tells them.

I trust this new generation of political party leaders are girding their loins to truly watch the watchers, a function needed in any democratic society.

While I accept that there will probably always be a need for some form of security intelligence service in our country, there must also be effective checks and balances on just what that service is up to.

And I hope that whoever the SIS is keeping an eye on these days, there is a genuine reason for doing so, and that any records being kept are both fair and accurate.

21 thoughts on “Bradford’s Truth – SIS, the watchers and the watched

  1. when cost-cutting is reviewed, the sis should be near the top of the list of ‘things we don’t need’
    When did we last ‘need’ an army? – 150 years ago? Doubtfull..
    the Trades Hall bombing in Wellington – carried out by a foreign national, and it’s widely known which embassy did the job.
    Knowledge (piecemeal and doubtfull) without a rudder is well nigh useless.
    Though they employ some fascinating and well informed people – the institutional purpose seems occluded – we have separate security echelons which are more effective, better informed and more reliable.

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  2. How come there are so many left-wing MP’s (on $170,000 per year) hiding under the “green” banner (water melons/ green washing of the far left)?

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  3. Does the SIS keep the newspaper cuttings from the Press re the progressive Youth Movement (PYM) marching through Christchurch (to the central Police Station) chanting : “take a walk, come on down,… and see the pigs that run our town”?

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  4. and then the french have enuff agents here to form a cricket team – blow up a ship in Ak harbour – these are the things we pay them to prevent….not to spy on children or MP’s.
    I would doubt there are a dozen Kiwis need ‘watching’, yet I’ll betchya there are thousands who are.

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  5. Back in the days where most New Zealanders shared a common culture there was good reason to spy on radicals and oddballs in order to maintain the status quo.

    These days our society is strongly governed by the sensitivities of minorities and radicals so the SIS has no further value.

    While I accept that there will probably always be a need for some form of security intelligence service in our country, there must also be effective checks and balances on just what that service is up to.

    Specifically why do you think we need a security intelligence service? Who specifically do you think needs to be surveilled?

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  6. # greengeek Says:
    July 2nd, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    > Specifically why do you think we need a security intelligence service? Who specifically do you think needs to be surveilled?

    Terrorist cells.

    I don’t know if we have any terrorist cells in New Zealand, because I’m not being paid to find out, and if I were I probably wouldn’t be allowed to tell you anyway. But I think it is desirable for someone to be looking out for terrorist cells and trying to infiltrate them, to stop terrorist attacks.

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  7. Sue,

    As a Communist activist – an advocate of the prison/slave/torture state models of China/the Soviet Union/North Korea/Cuba/Khmer Rouge Cambodia/Vietnam etc – I’m not sure why you are surprised that you would be of interest to the SIS. It’s their job. They track people like you in the same way that the ordinary police track paedophiles.

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  8. Wat – and readers of Frogblog track you in the same way that a Health Board tracks the spread of herpes.

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  9. Yes, that’s Perigosis, greenfly. Fortunately wat is SO much less contagious than almost any other malady. His philosophy is only slightly catching, and his approach to arguing it actually cures people who may have been willing to have a go :-)

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  10. Perigosis eh – the involuntary hyperventilation some experience when presented with anything that doesn’t fit their extreme Libertarian programme. It often leads to shrill proclamations that jackboots are just around the corner and the end of free society is nigh if the revolution doesn’t start immediately.

    So apt and how impressive to have coined a word Valis – respect!

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  11. Valis, greenfly,

    There is no moral distinction between Communism and Nazism; the only difference is the Nazis imprisoned, tortured and killed fewer people than the Communists.

    So how is your defence of a committed Communist any difference to defending a committed Nazi?

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  12. yeah and the Nazi’s tried to limit it Wat – they had less people to work with/on/over/terminate.
    Not that they were a good thing…
    We gots a Terriwist – Tame Iti – supposedly – har har har

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  13. “All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to
    know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it:” Alexis de Tocqueville

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  14. So the capitalist, “freemarket” practicing West is guilty of no such thing. Hmmm. hahahahahaha. Right.

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  15. Me thinks Wat’s knowledge of history is rather lacking.

    “In zealously following his instructions to the letter, he became to Indian history what Charles Edward Trevelyan — permanent secretary to the Treasury during the Great Hunger (and, later, governor of Madras) — had become to Irish history: the personification of free market economics as a mask for colonial genocide. ”
    http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/d/davis-victorian.html

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  16. There is no moral distinction between Communism and Nazism; the only difference is the Nazis imprisoned, tortured and killed fewer people than the Communists.

    Happy to see we agree on something at least.

    So how is your defence of a committed Communist any difference to defending a committed Nazi?

    No one is defending a “committed Communist”. We aren’t really even defending Sue, commie free for 40 years now. We’re just making fun of you and your ridiculous hyperbole.

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  17. SleepyTreehugger,

    You’re going to have to help me out here and explain just what on earth you’re talking about.

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  18. Hey Wat. Just reacting to your snide attempt to equivalate the ideology of Communism and that of Nazism and therefore tarring Sue with the same brush. I’ve just used the same tactic with you. Read the quote. How does it feel?

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  19. “Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others
    because you were born in it.”
    : George Bernard Shaw

    Howzat Froggie huh? – thanks for lettin the uncouth term go – only used when nothing else will do…..the Taliban Tour is on offer for all who doubt….

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