Strange Bedfellows

Politics is a funny business, and can produce some very strange bedfellows. The Rob Gilchrist spying affair has highlighted a significant lack of oversight regarding police covert activities, and frankly, some very poor judgement.

I have been asked a few times by commenters why I haven’t waded into the scandal. The  reason is that I take the issue so seriously that I didn’t want to wade in with  my usual tongue in cheek attitude and imperfect information. This could potentially sidetrack the very real and very serious debate about how we deal with the issue.

I am dumbfounded by the National government’s weak response, given the fact that so much of their private information has been made public in the last few years. I would have thought them to be more sensitive to this issue.  Having said that, no one has ever produced evidence that National was spied upon rather than just leaky.

However, I am even more dumbfounded by who has lined up behind Keith Locke  in his call for action on the part of the authorities. Keith has done a release both here and here, calling for an investigation:

Democracy requires the active participation of the citizenry, and it is very dangerous for our Police force to be targeting the groups most active on peace, environmental protection and animal welfare issues.

We will be approaching the new Police Minister Judith Collins, asking for an inquiry into the covert political operations of the Special Investigation Group. We will also be raising the matter in Parliament.

Meanwhile, from two other quadrants of the political spectrum, we have Kiwiblog and Garth George coming out in support of more transparency and a full investigation. David Farrar says:

So is there a solution for the Government? Well, yes, a simple one occurs to me. Why not refer the issue to the Police Complaints Authority. This wipes the issue off the front page, and will ensure that some independent scrutiny is given to the issue. This is ideal for the PCA and is much better than having a formal external inquiry by a QC.

While Garth George says:

It is all very well for Prime Minister John Key and Police Minister Judith Collins to express misgivings about this spying on the public, but Mr Key’s refusal to intervene is inexcusable.

I never thought I’d see the day when I would agree with Green MP Keith Locke, but when he describes the police surveillance as Stasi tactics and covert political operations that undermine democracy, I have no choice.

Because he’s right.

Both of them share Keith’s assertion that democracy and free association are threatened by such activities.  I hope the government listens to these calls for action and that a non-partisan approach can be taken. I won’t hold my breath.

84 Comments Posted

  1. SPC

    Your comments serve to confirm that the relationships between church and state, and relationship between the citizen in capacity of voter and religious believer, are complex. On its dark side religion has the inquisition, while secularism has given the world the totalitarianism of Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.

    As a “religious believer”, and a “moral conservative”, I may have very different views to yourself on a range of social and moral questions. However, I do not accept or owe allegiance to either the “collective western security alliance” or the “Christian Church throne let Commonwealth” as your remarks imply that you do. The collective security system and the British monarchy are secular institutions which are in fundamental conflict with Christian doctrine.

    Americans may be a religious people, but the United States of America is a secular state. The juxtaposition is not uncommon. The majority of Turks are Muslim but the Turkish state is so determinedly secular that it will not allow fundamentalist Muslim women to attend university. The Catholic Church wields a strong influence in France, but the secular French state prohibits any display of religious belief by school students, and demands that all citizens profess belief in secular values. So everywhere secular states conflict with religion, and secularism is in conflict with religious states (of which the Islamic Republic of Iran is probably the only true example in the contemporary world – appearances notwithstanding the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia do not really qualify as religious states).

    The Realm of New Zealand is also a secular state. Members of Parliament and others are required to swear allegiance to the Queen as Head of State, but not (explicitly) as Head of the Church, and they do not have to swear on the Bible. It is not my understanding that Members of Parliament are required to join in the prayer led by the Speaker. They are free to remain silent.

    And I doubt that you could find a single theologian, in any of the Christian churches, who would defend the mandatory oath of allegiance to the crown on the basis of Christian doctrine. The fact is that as well as being an affront to natural justice and common sense, it is a clear violation of religious principle. People may be bribed, intimidated or tricked into making a show of belief, but they cannot be compelled to believe. True religion requires true belief, freely given.

    Both secularism and religion can fall short of their ideals, and as can be seen from the examples of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, France and Turkey, secularism has no better claim than theology to be the architect of “a more just, fair, reasoned, tolerant and inclusive society”.

    My personal belief is that only religion can provide effective moral constraints upon the excesses of secular liberal capitalism. But it can only do that if it adheres to its proper role as critic and conscience of the secular state. When the church allows itself to be degraded into an instrument to endorse and enforce the power of the state, then it violates all its own fundamental principles, and will only compound the problems of secular society.

    Sapient refers to the case of a presumably secular Palmerston North City Councillor who refuses to sing the national anthem because it contains references to God. I don’t have a problem with his refusal. I do have a problem with the idea that his stand is somehow “arrogant” or unacceptable. No one should be obliged to acquiesce in any kind of public profession of belief or allegiance. To require them to do so is a violation of the human spirit and religious anathema.

    The freedoms of western society are at least in part attributable to the influence of Christianity, specifically to the influence of the more radical religious movements of the Protestant reformation. But those freedoms need to be exercised with the kind of restraints that, traditionally at least, only religion has been able to provide. If liberal secular capitalism chooses to reject the restraining influence of religion, then in the fullness of time it will face a similar fate to Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

    I have probably said as much as I can in this forum at this time, but these issues are canvassed at greater length in “the republican” (specifically in articles such as “A solemn oath”, “The case against pragmatism” and “An Islamist critique of democracy”)

  2. SPC,
    well here in palmy a recently elected counseler, chris teo-sherall, refused to stand or sing the national anthem because of religious reference; that went down like a ton of bricks off a sinking ship, came across more as arrogant than as a moral stand.
    I agree that there should be a body to which the police must make their case for such survelance but i do feel inclined to beleive that they were wrong in survelance on the green party. I do not know if they have suveilance on gangs, i would expect they do, but they should.
    But groups withn the green party, and esspecially the main target of the spying, do have strong histories of violating the law and in many cases that is in destructive manners.

  3. Geoff Fischer,

    I would like to be able to simply agree with you, however given most Americans will not vote a non Christian into the White House (and they lead our collective western security alliance) and the continuing Christian Church throne led Commonwealth of ours …

    Note the language of the American oath of allegiance, in God they trust their capital (on their money) and these developments occured in the past century, let alone the declaration of war against secular society from the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition movements (and the Catholic Church) and the more recent Christian Dominionism (preparing for the advent by restoring Christian government) doctrine …

    In America Christian revisionists argue the USA was not formed a secular nation (no established religion) but a Christian one, albeit without an established Christian Church.

    Here our MP’s swear allegiance to the Christian throne Crown on the bible and partake in the prayer led by the Speaker …

    And now it is common to hear apology for our freedoms being an inheritance of Christendom – as if any challenge to a continuing Christian heritage (such as a secular society republic) would be to put those freedoms at risk.

    Of course this apology is nonsense, but rarely is it challenged in our public media. The renaissance and democracy of course emerged out of challenge to divine right autocracy/theocracy partly as a consequence of the wars of religion – in the search for a more just, fair, reasoned, tolerant and inclusive society.

  4. sapient

    It would seem to me that some groups being surveillanced have no history of criminal acts, but merely of protest action that inconvenienced police (blocking roads/gathering around buildings to make a protest) and that was enough for there to be the police attitude that such groups of “people” might/could go a step further.

    It’s interesting that “anti-terrorism” seems to allow (in the police mind) surveillance for the protection of corporate property from protestors who “might” resort to criminal acts – yet there is no right to surveillance ex cons to protect the civilian public from their crime: not unless there is probable cause sufficient to convince a judge in each and every case.

    Despite the reputation of gangs, I doubt that many are actually under surveillance.

    Why is there no independent person/body to whom police must convince of a significiant threat before “anti-terrorist” surveillance begins? And given the only act of terrorist “violence” we know of include the bombing/killing of a unionist and racist attacks one presumes this would have been where equal or greater focus belonged.

  5. SPC: What the regime defines as “freedom of the press” is actually the power of the press, the privileges of the press, and the corruption of the press. The power and the privilege of the press to determine what ordinary mortals shall be permitted to read and know. The corruption of the press which will publish any kind of untruth or fabrication in exchange for a sum of money. In time to come, humanity will wonder how it was that people of our era tolerated such gross abuses of truth, reason and justice, and even dignified them under the motto of “freedom of the press”.

    On the other issue, over the past century western society has separated itself from the bonds of Christendom and has become explicitly secular. The state has thereby given up its claim to be sanctified by the church, and in return it has freed itself of the theoretical obligation to submit to the institutes of the Christian religion, the laws of God, and the precepts of Jesus. Many politicians in profoundly secular states (such as the US, France, and even New Zealand) continue to profess religious belief only because they want to have their cake and eat it as well. They want to cloak themselves in the mantle of Jesus while the state which they administer engages in the most abominably un-Christian acts of violence, deception, greed and corruption. Think George W Bush in the US or the late unlamented “Christian coalition” in New Zealand. None of this makes the US, NZ, or any other western state “Christian”.

    Both these issues have been discussed at some length in posts to the repubican (

  6. Geoff Fischer,
    I take a not-so-quiet pride in being bereft of such things as morals as they are, by their very nature, irrational. My arguements all have a rational basis, my criticism of other Green party members is based on the absence of rationality in their arguements and their reliance so much on their own, hypocritical, morals which more often than not dictate taking an action which activly works against the ultimate acheivement of their purpose. I am a member of the Green Party, and a highly active one at that, i pursue primarily the continuation of life as in the absence of such a continuation any of the other endevours are uterly pointless but yet a large portion of the party would rather follow paths which they feel justified by their personal, irrational, morals even though following such paths is nothing more than feel-good bull and activly works against both the survival of life and the pursuit of all that they are trying to accheive through said action.

    It is indeed illegal to for the police or a government agency to place survelence on a party unless sanctioned by the court (unless that was changed with the terrorism legislation). But the arguement here is not if it should or should not be illegal but if the police should or should not have taken such actions with all things considered. My arguement being that it is the duty of the police to protect the people and as such it falls on them to pay attention to the parties more likley to commit offences against the public, many of the groups in the green party having well documented histories of such. So long as the police only interfare when violence, theft, or destruction is on the books then it is fine and no freedoms are treaded on. Anti-anything groups are perfectly within their rights to protest passivly or to attempt to change laws through lobbying or through convincing the public, they do not however have any right nor entitlement to activly violate laws in an attempt to change the status quo in favour or their own, in most cases ignorant, minority opinions. To rip out crops, steel beagles, destroy research, etc because you dont agree with it is no different than a group of catholics going to a gay bar to assult queers because it is an “affront to god”.

  7. Some only defend freedom of speech, when it is to capable of being bought and paid for, thus it enables those who have the greater resources to prevail using it. Otherwise freedom of speech involves the freedom to dissent and protest against any “establishment”. A democracy not controlled by those who “have” power via wealth and or status in the institutions of government, is a potential threat, thus their security is in associating those who protest against it and them as the sort of people who are inimical to the collective security of “our western Christendom society” (Christ is used by them to symbolise an authority with government to act on behalf of God).

  8. There is a strange reluctance among this group to address what seems to me to be the real issue, i.e. the fact that the regime has employed deceit and treachery in its campaign of public surveillance.

    I spend a modest amount of time in monitoring the activities of the monarchist regime, so why would I object if the regime were to spend some of its rather more extensive resources monitoring my activities? But I do object to the regime’s use of dishonesty, deception, treachery and perjury as part of, or in association with, its surveillance activities, and, to be consistent, I eschew the use of all such tactics myself.

    My advice to those who oppose the regime is simple and direct. Assume that the regime is listening to every word you utter, reading every line you write, and watching your every action, but don’t fret about it. Just get on with your life, and make sure that you are well prepared for the day when the regime moves from surveillance to the violent suppression of its opponents.

    To those who support the regime, it is hardly surprising that you have descended to making anonymous accusations made against un-named individuals (i.e. Sapient’s (?) reference to “ignorant” “hypocritical” and “self-righteous fools” in the Green Party). You are after all bereft of any moral or rational arguments.

    And I will turn the charge of hypocrisy against ACT Party Member of Parliament John Boscawen, and all his colleagues, who campaigned so strenuously for the “freedom of speech” of the New Zealand Herald but fell strangely silent when the “Herald”, and the regime it serves, sought to deny those same freedoms to any other New Zealander.

  9. Sapient,

    It is illegal to spy on groups without a warrant from a court judge – based on sufficient cause in their case, not some profiling of people of that group type/cause.

    This does not mean that some groups of people do not do it, without a warrant – but they cannot admit evidence so gathered in a court case. And what they do could result in themselves being the subject of a criminal prosecution.

    Discrimiation is premised on a simple idea – that because one “Jew” has broken a law, all “Jews” are law breakers who need to be so categorised and surveillanced.

    Thus you link types of protest groups to what some people might do in that cause – and associate all groups of that cause with the pssibility of a criminal action …

  10. SPC,
    It would be more efficent to use survelence on ex-cons than it would on the entire population as ex-cons have shown themselves to have a tendancy to commit criminal acts.
    To protest is one thing, to steel and to destroy is another and pretty much everything anti-vivisectors do to protest comes under those groupings, the same goes for alot of anti-ge protesters though to a smaller extent. The intent of these actions is primarily to get attention and secondarily to show the those whom practice such things that they may also receive such attention; this is terrorism and vandalism.
    To spy on a gang is no different, if there is a spot where danger brews then it is logical to keep a watch on that spot. So long as the police only intervein in non legaly sanctioned protests and actions then there is not a problem, its what they should do to protect the public; if i had a large collection of guns and armour, had known suicidal, antisocial and homocidal tendancies then the public would expect the police to keep an eye on me at the very least.
    would you want the police to spy on the kkk, mungrel mob, white suprimists, etc? it is justified, i absolutly hate the thought of a powerful state but survelance of groups known to engage in criminal activity is entrily justified.

  11. sapient

    It may also be “efficient use of resources” to sound surveillance all ex cons (without a warrant) but that is also illegal …

    The idea that “our security” is secured by those who protect some status quo, from the challenge of those who organise to campaign or protest, is interesting – particularly the identification of this role for those given powers to combat “international” terrorism. Is the war against terrorism in the end largely in effect a front for suppressing local civilian protest – protest against the behaviour of business and the interest of capital to be unregulated in its treatment of animals and the environment?

  12. Sapient:
    Without a doubt you are in a much better position to judge those that have lead roles in the vital workings of this party. I do remember though that around the time of the formation of the Values Party there was a small but respected group of environmentalists and ‘alternative lifestylers’ who argued that ‘living naturally’ and respect for nature could not be achieved through politics. I guess in much the same way as many fundamentalist Christian organisations discourage their membership from being politicaly active or even to vote.

  13. Kjuv,
    I do agree that an interest in the continuation of life on this planet may be reguarded as a frame of mind better suited to our evolutionary purpose and our social good than a frame-set of apathy or ignorance. I just become infuriated by the shear volume of ignorance, ideology, and hypocracy that is so pervesive within this party as people say that they care for the environment and continued survival and yet their personal and political actions speak otherwise.

  14. Sapient:

    Fair enough. But of course, a person’s attitude, albeit self-righteousness, pious, laissez-faire can be readily separated from the veracity of that person’s belief system. Afterall, as Blue Peter regularly informs us, ‘cognitive dissonance’ is fairly pervasive :).

    Anyway, caring about the planet would generally be regarded as a better frame of mind than apathy or ignorance don’t you think? But yes, hypocrisy is quite a different ballgame!

  15. Kjuv,
    well initially i wrote “self-rightous, idealistic, and ignorant fools”, lol., but i figured that was over-doing it alittle.
    May comment as to the self righteous nature of many in the party refers more to their beleif in the righteousnes of their personal ideology than in a beleif in superiority as such. Though a significant number are very hypocritical, if not in their lifes then in their political viewpoints, even in green party policy and practice.

  16. >>the self righious fools whom oppose such practices; i.e. the green party.

    Hmm… ‘self-righteousness’ usually implies not only a sense of smug superiority but also a display of hypocrisy Are you saying that, Sapient, that green party people are more akin to smug hypocrits than (at times) laudable idealists?

  17. SPC,
    targeting people based on their political creed, like profiling, may not be politically correct but it is none-the-less a logical, effecient, and effective allocation of limited and scare resources. If it is ones purpose to protect the status quo of a given group it is entirly logical to target those groups which are more likley to attempt to change that status quo. If you want to stop gay marrage, racial sepratism, or abortion you dont attack the conservitives, you attack those whom disapprove strongly of such practices.
    Likewise, if you want to stop anti-vivisection raids, anti-war vandalism, and destruction of GE property you dont target the party which houses the vivisectors, warmongers, and business men; you target the party which houses the self righious fools whom oppose such practices; i.e. the green party.

  18. Targeting people by their political creed or religious stutus is itself illegal – and that includes selection for surveillance.

    Thus who was spied on, and why they were chosen, is much the same thing.

  19. In response to SPC: Surveillance is not persecution, although it is often a precursor to persecution. I believe that the distinction is an important one, and should be respected if criticisms of the regime’s actions in this case are to be fully credible.

    I also believe that the focus needs to shift away from the issue of who the regime was spying upon, to the way in which the regime chose to spy upon its subjects. One of the first posts in this thread quoted Pastor Niemoller, who made exactly that point: we cannot afford to condone the idea that some people should be the subject of this kind of surveillance, while others should not.

  20. As to the difference between members of political parties and the action of of government – consider Watergate and illegal actions carried out by government (President Nixon ordering the break in of the Watergate building to spy on the Democratic party preparation for debates with him, and of courser the subsequent cover up).

    More recently President Bush ordered the FBI to snoop on Americans in ways even proscribed by the Patriot Act – they carried out the illegal operation. Congress on finding out, gave the President greater power to safeguard the USA and ignored their right to impeach their President and imprison the FBI personnel involved (by Nuremburg standards all were guilty of carrying out illegal orders).

    John Key and Judith Colins have taken the position taken by Congress on that occasion.

  21. This is a case for the Supreme Court.

    The police have to abide by the Bill of Rights/Human Rights Act – there is an obvious systematic persection of people based on their political creed – the police action was/is illegal and needs to be defined as such.

  22. jh in what possible way did the pendulum swing to far in the libnertarian direction ????????????

    Dont be sucked in by the squaking points of the natianals who keep squaking that labor is/was soft on law and order.

    In actual fact labor ( in an effort to stop the squakers ? ) increased penaltys for crimes considerably, made it easier to get convictions and passed a whole lot ‘terrorisim’ laws.

    How is that liberterian ?

  23. While I agree with “daddyO” that the moral standards of the New Zealand Police are grievously low, it pays to remember to remember that some police officers are able to rise above the institutional corruption. I had a close friend who served in the police Special Branch/SIS before resigning rather than continuing to spy upon ordinary, decent, socially concerned and patriotic New Zealanders. For the remainder of his life he served the community without reproach. There are many other regular police officers who have left the force to take up honest work, and it is reasonable to expect that many more who will do so in the future.

    Unfortunately it does not appear that Rob Gilchrist belongs in the same category. He seems to have no sense of remorse over his career of treason and betrayal. Gilchrist’s crime, for which he will need to answer on the day of judgement, was the deceitful way in which he went about his business of serving the regime. It is not a question, as some are suggesting, of who should, and who should not, be spied upon. It is not a question of whether the state should be allowed to spy on “terrorists”, “activists”, “trade unionists” or a “parliamentary political party”. It is a question of whether the state should be allowed to use deception, dishonesty, and gross breach of trust in its dealings with the public at large. In my opinion it should not, and Gilchrist’s activities are just one more reason why the monarchist regime must be destroyed.

  24. “Clint Rickards culture may be coming back to police stations near you ………………..’

    Blame the pendulum for swinging too far in the libertarian direction.

  25. One of the funny things in this thread is Dpf’s assertion that the police complaints authority will give the whole matter independent scrutiny.

    It should be called the police compliant authority and they are not independent at all ……………………… maybe Dpf like me knows the outcome that these cops investigating cops will arrive at ……………… that nothing wrong was done by the boys in blue

    And who can be surprised about the national party not wanting to investigate or upset the police.

    The police have always been aligned alongside the authoritarian national party and the police usually do well with more powers and money when the nats are in government.

    Lets not forget it was the national party that once created the police ” red squad ” which had no ID numbers on the officers. Those goons beat up peaceful protesters…………….. and the whole thing ( springbok tour ) was about the Nats getting re-elected ………………… ah what morals they have

    Clint Rickards culture may be coming back to police stations near you ………………..

  26. So I look forward to the police arresting Gilchrist for inciting crime. But I somehow don’t think that will happen.

  27. kiore1 Says:
    December 20th, 2008 at 7:59 am

    > Are the police justified in INCITING crime through “sting” operations?

    It would be good to know if it was the police’s idea to incite lawbreaking. If it was, then clearly they were in the wrong. The police are not paid to deal with crime shortages by making their own (if there even is a shortage of real crime, which I don’t think there is).

    The alternative is that inciting lawbreaking was Rob Gilchrist’s own initiative. Maybe he thought the police were going to stop paying him to spy on people who weren’t doing anything illegal, so he figured that to keep the money coming in he had to encourage them to break the law.

    Unfortunately, even if it was the SIG’s initiative, they might well find it politically expedient to blame it on Gilchrist.

  28. kiore1 – never underestimate the Girl Guides! This morning we dug up a packet of GG biscuits that had been buried by our dog last year – and they were still edible (though the packet was opened)! What does that tell you about Baden Powell’s wee lasses, eh!

  29. How can setting a police spy to report on groups like Greenpeace (“the Avon Ladies of the environmental movement”), the Green Party, and unions be described as anything other than “police overreaction”. Ditto sending in spies not to prevent crime but to stir up hatred. The police have certainly overstepped their mandate.

    I cannot comment on the Tuhoe activists, but I also know some of the Wellington activists arrested during the October raids, and none of them would know which end of a gun to fire. They are about as dangerous as a bunch of Girl Guides.

  30. Spys apart I think it is important to isolate the revolution formenting Marxisits. Also, the fact that Keith Locke played his police overreaction record came at a cost. He either genuinely didn’t know that something “disturbing” had been going on or had his head in the sand (at least looking from the outside), but in his role as part of a (supposedly) political arm of an environmental party he helped lump you all together.

  31. jh, I have been part of the AR movement, unlike you, and having been at the receiving end of Gilchrists’ campaign of hate, mistrust and slander. I can state quite categorically that nobody in our movement attended training camps for “murder and mayhem”, and the only shooting we did was with cameras. Ironically the only boot-camp style training I knew about was organised by Gilchrist. I remember his sneering email advertising the boot camp in which he pretty much showed contempt for all his so-called friends. I tolerated Gilchrist at the time, though I thought he was an obnoxious sleaze, because one of the most experienced members of the movement was his good friend, so I thought he was at least honest.

    We once had a member who was an alleged rapist and quite unstable, but we got rid of him. We certainly didn’t need the police to identify the flakes. The AR movement has no more use for nutters than any other organisation. In fact it is even more important that all members are mentally balanced, because we are often under so much pressure.

    I am not that enamored by the AR movement in Auckland or Wellington, there were too many egos, but it did not help to have people like Gilchrist stirring up hatred. I hope now he has been outed, members of the movement will be better able to work together and look after their own, something they are not that good at doing.

  32. Perhaps I’m not paying attention to the detail but it seems to me that crucial to this discussion is one important factor> the police had a “live one” or at least people who attended training camps where they practiced weaponry and talked enthusiastically about murder and mayhem. Some individuals who spat anti establishment fire moved between these groups (and into a leaf- colored political party). Gillies was a blunt instrument. I doubt the police would have been interest in what people had for breakfast.

  33. jh
    “The police are justified in spying on them. ”

    Are the police justified in INCITING crime through “sting” operations? Ar they justified in passing on information about who is sleeping with who, who has had an argument with who, and are they justified in spreading lies and slander between members of the animal rights movement in an effort to discredit it.

    the SIG was set up after 9/11 to investigate TERRORRISTS. You know, the sort of people who fly aeroplanes through buildings. Not the sort who take a few chickens from a battery farm and then given themselves up to police. Or the sort who chain themselves to a bacon truck. The police need to justify the severe waste of taxpayers money that is supposed to be spent making us safer from real terrorists.

    Everyone slanders the AR movement, but it has been going for 20 years now, and in all the times that vivisectors’ or factory farmers’ property has been destroyed, nobody has been killed or injured. That is not accidental, it is a result of meticulous planning with safety in mind. How many industrial sites have that sort of safety record?

  34. The revelations about the activities of the police spy and agent provocateur Rob Gilchrist provide an occasion to berate the New Zealand Police and the politicians, but more importantly they provide an opportunity to establish some basic ethical principles.

    The present regime believes that is OK for police spies to “live a lie” – that is to engage in a deliberate pattern of deception – in order to gain information about the beliefs and activities of others. I do not. The regime believes that for reasons of state it is OK for a police spy to betray the trust of a person with whom he is bound in a sacred union. I do not.

    There is no justification for a deliberate betrayal of trust. There is no excuse for deceit. A policy of deception might seem to offer some immediate practical advantages, but in the final analysis it is the road to ruin.

    Those who support the regime as well as those who are opposed, those on the left as well as those on the right, need to dissociate themselves from the use of any kind of deception for political ends. Be honest and open to friend and foe alike, and you will have nothing to fear and nothing to regret. It really is that simple.

  35. “Just watched the link to TV3 – I’ve seen Oliver Driver in many states over the years, but incoherent in the face of obvious bigotry is a new one!
    If business is so concerned they could pay moles themselves after all they pay a fortune to PR Companies.

    Having said that if it is lawful to export coal (whether you agree with it or not) and people plan to act illegally the police are justified in spying on them. The problem here is the intermingling of the f/l and the environmental movement.

    Bigotry: The attitude, state of mind, or behavior characteristic of a bigot; intolerance. Wrong word for that occasion?

  36. # katie Says:
    December 19th, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    BTW, that affadavit was thrown out in Court as inadmissable …

  37. “I am dumbfounded by the National government’s weak response”

    Why?..none of this happened on their watch.

    I know it goes against every bone in your body Frog but you really need to drop the politics and have a crack at the corrupt Labour party over this.

  38. Just watched the link to TV3 – I’ve seen Oliver Driver in many states over the years, but incoherent in the face of obvious bigotry is a new one!

    That clip is priceless! ROFL! 😀

  39. turnip28 Says:
    December 19th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    So how much taxpayer dollars are the NZ police wasting trying to find all the Jihadists in NZ.
    Did you read the police affidavit on the Urewera Raids Turnip?
    I didn’t think so.

    My brother in law thought it was a big joke until I sent him the link and then he took a different view.

    And remember Turnip “if nobody talks we all walk” so don’t you go jawing none y’ hear?

  40. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages watching that guy Nevil Gibson.

    I think its safe to say that with a moron like Nevil Gibson as editor of the National Business Review thats a publication which has no crediability.

    So how much taxpayer dollars are the NZ police wasting trying to find all the Jihadists in NZ.

    If your car gets stolen or your house gets broken into don’t expect any help from the police.

    The police exist to protect the citizens rights not play get smart.

    Is Hide being silient on this because I think Keith should be approaching act on this one, I know some of the act members would not look to kindly on the whole existence of this special police branch.

    Its definately a potential issue which the greens, act and maori party should use to force the national government to have a full open crown inquiry into the actions of the nz police force.

  41. Sam, you messed up the link, so I’ve linked again for those who want to watch it and can’t work it out.

    Gibson’s statements are truly priceless – I’ve don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone on the authoritarian right in New Zealand be quite so honest – it’s pure Dick Cheney stuff.

  42. “In the anti-apartheid movement and the unemployed and beneficiaries movement we used to have regular meetings with Police liaison officers.”

    Yeah, remember meeting with the liaison officers before demos, but they seemed to disappear. I think the police high-ups got sick of having their officers tell them everything was fairly low-key, the activists were reasonable people and to relax.

    This video is pretty good though:\

    Nevil Gibson editor of the National Business Review discusses the spying and maintains that activists are potential members of some global jihad (his term). He pretty much says that anybody who makes life difficult for business is a potential threat and should be monitored. You would be hard pressed to find a clearer declaration of class war anywhere.

  43. Well said, Sam.

    Has anybody got even the tiniest bit of commonsense left?
    Or did the joint CIA/Police Anti-terror Unit exercise last year cripple the intelligence of all of “middle NZ”?

    The Labour Government had no real idea what Howard Broad and his Assistant Police Commissioner, Jon White, were up to in the lead-up to the Urewera Raids.
    The Police as an organisation are not prone to trusting outside organisations, which is why the Police Complaints Authority doesn’t tend to prosecute members of the force when substantive complaints are made.
    They were hardly likely to tell a ‘socialist'(sic) government what they were up to.

    I doubt that they would tell a centre-right government, either.

    So we’re left with an arrogant, self-policing force, who act as though anything is justifiable, if the ends are achieved that they have ascertained as a goal.

    Thus, $8.7 million spent investigating and laying warrants under a piece of legislation designed for the extradition of undesirables to the USA, never meant to be applied to domestic political activists; covert funding of agencies such as Thompson & Clark, who recruited spies to surveil Save Happy Valley and Peace Action Wellington; and now an admission that Gilchrist was directly recruited by detectives in the NZ Police force, to further spy on a multiplicity of groups of environmental & peace activists.

    All, of course, respond to FBI & CIA criteria for “terrorists” within the USA Patriot Act, a piece of legislation that was not ratified here, and has so many questionable assumptions and shonky rationalisations, that no thinking person would relate it in any way to the legislature or political life that exists here and now in NZ.

    We’ve been had. By the Police.
    Who right now, will be busily justifying the wastage of expenditure chasing american bogies, on our soil.
    What for? No idea, certainly isn’t anything to do with improving security in this country. Or our security profile with our ‘good friends’, the USA.

    This is predjudiced, biased policing, by a bunch of imports (OIA the passports of the Anti-terror Unit, go ahead – not much kiwi in there …) who are attempting to justify a surveillance network that only proves that NZ is one of the freer, least discriminatory countries in the western world – and we want to keep it that way.
    Without the police pre-judging and fabricating cases against those who are merely exercising freedom of speech.

  44. “Shouldn’t Greenpeace etc invite the police in as observers? If they are genuine organisations they would appreciate keeping dangerous radicals out. ”

    Sure, and why not have all bloggers send their posts to the police for vetting? And we could have cameras in people’s homes in case they are commiting violence against family members. Might be good to have police accompanying police around since the police seem to commit quite a few offences themselves. We must be able to hire a few old guys in Russia who remember how to put these policies into effect

    And who are these “dangerous radicals”? Anybody who doesn’t think business should be free to tarmac over the planet, it would appear.

  45. Johan said: I was just thinking about Gilchrist’s life because of Kiore1’s comments. If you have spent the last 10 years, making “friends” and living your life as a lie and you are found out you presumably lose all your friends and the respect of all your acquaintances.

    Yes, I wonder it the Police will offer him support and counselling, or if they will just hang him out to dry now he’s been outed.

  46. samiam said: Shouldn’t Greenpeace etc invite the police in as observers?

    In the anti-apartheid movement and the unemployed and beneficiaries movement we used to have regular meetings with Police liaison officers.

    That still didn’t stop the cops sending spooks in though. One attempt came rapidly unstuck when a young woman I had gone to school with turned up at an anti-tour mobilising meeting in 1981. I knew that she had intended joining the police when she left school, so engaged her in conversation after the meeting and asked her what she did.

    She mumbled something about being between jobs, and that was the last we saw of her. That is, until a court case after the ’81 tour re alleged offences committed during protests, when she revealed herself in court to be a Detective Constable.

    So there is nothing that is really new about the Police planting spooks in protest organisations. What is new is that Rochelle Rees has managed to obtain the hard evidence to prove that they are gathering information about far more than just potentially illegal activities – something I’ve always suspected but could never prove.

  47. I was just thinking about Gilchrist’s life because of Kiore1’s comments. If you have spent the last 10 years, making “friends” and living your life as a lie and you are found out you presumably lose all your friends and the respect of all your acquaintances. You cannot show your face at any of your old haunts without being despised. Your name becomes synonymous with underhandedness (similar to quisling, the name of the collaborator Norwegian (?) prime minister in world war two with treason). Sure, you can make new friends but will anybody ever trust you again? How sad is that? But then again, he brought it on himself.

    Gerrit, just in response to your earlier comment. I think that once the tapes were in the public domain the discussion thereof on frogblog (or anywhere else) was in order. I would have felt uncomfortable had a person, acting on behalf of the Green Party been responsible for the surreptitious taping – but fortunately this was not the case.

  48. Under Labour. This occurred under a Labour government, your preferred partners.

    I don’t think groups should be spied on either, unless there is just cause of suspicion of criminal activity. So I support you.

    I think it’s despicable that people, say, go into other parties meetings and record their activities. It’s deceitful and dishonest.

    Where *were* you on such matters, Greens?

    Yes, Labour is remiss for allowing this to happen. But National is even more culpable for declining to do anything about it when they knew it was happening.

    Spying on political parties at all is bad- but in the case of the National Party, it was much worse that they were trying to present a different face to the public than they did to their party members. We accept a certain amount of “spying” as journalism to hold the powerful to account, and while I’m uncomfortable with the tapes there, I think they’re very different to a situation where the police are spying on a wide variety of political organisations. It doesn’t matter if they’re only left-wing ones now- don’t worry, they’ll come for the right-wing ones soon enough if we don’t do something about it. There is no need for the police to monitor routine political proceedings.

    Shouldn’t Greenpeace etc invite the police in as observers? If they are genuine organisations they would appreciate keeping dangerous radicals out. For it’s part the police MUST ensure that it’s only the dangerous radicals that they are concerned with, snail protests don’t quite reach that threshold I’d hope!

    By the same logic, should the police do the same thing with a watchdog group so that they can be publicly seen to not be abusing their powers? It’s a matter of trust and internal security. And trust has gone out the window now, sadly. I agree with you that ideally these groups should be self-policing and building a positive relationship with the authorities, but keep in mind that our political organisations in New Zealand are almost exclusively peaceful and there’s no real reason to suspect that they’d harbour someone who they thought truly dangerous. Even the National Front looks positively serene compared to its overseas analogues.

  49. Shouldn’t Greenpeace etc invite the police in as observers? If they are genuine organisations they would appreciate keeping dangerous radicals out. For it’s part the police MUST ensure that it’s only the dangerous radicals that they are concerned with, snail protests don’t quite reach that threshold I’d hope!

  50. I’ve seen a few comments along the lines of “why don’t they spy on the National Front? the National Front are far more dangerous”, and “why didn’t they spy on the Road Transport Forum? it’s protests have a much bigger economic effect”.

    and my response is: how do you know they’re not spying on them?
    all we know is that they weren’t on the list of organisations that Rob Gilchrist was spying on, and do you really think they’d use the same spy to spy on those groups as they used to spy on Greenpeace?

    Some spy agencies have more than one spy. Some people even believe that our own SIS has more than one spy.

  51. At the time of the raids no attempt was made to distinguish environmental activists from Maori separatists just a “this is a police over reaction” from Keith Locke.

  52. I was a member of some of the so called “terrorist” groups that Gilchrist was spying on, and was the target of his lies and slander on at least one occasion. Gilchrist was not there to prevent crime. In fact it was him to was inciting crime by encouraging illegal activity and aggressively confronting the police (presumably the bobbies on the beat do not communicate with the SIG). Looking back I consider that activists groups would not have had nearly so much trouble with the police if Gilchrist had not been strutting around with his macho tactics.

    The police are supposed to prevent crime. How is it therefore excusable for them to hire spies to incite crime. It seems they had a hidden agenda to discredit protest groups not to prevent crime.

    I can forgive Gilchrist for spying to the police. What I cannot forgive is his inciting lies, slander and hatred amongst the movement.

    The groups I belonged to were not dangerous. As Mark Eden said on TV last night, when we broke the law we did it openly and were prepared to defend ourselves in court. Nobody in the movements (except Gilchrist) was violent in any way. We were however often the target of mindless violence by vivisectors and factory farmers.

  53. sweetdisorder said: At the time of the theft of emails from the leader of the opposition…

    Don’t believe the spin sweetdisorder! There is no evidence that Brash’s emails were stolen, otherwise someone would have been charged by the Police with an offence by now.

    Given that no-one has, I think Hager’s assertion that the emails were sent to him by someone on the National Party’s staff who was disaffected with Brash’s programme and policies is much more likely.

  54. There is a difference between a civilian taping ‘private’ discussions and giving these to the media and the police paying an informer to spy on legitimate organisations.

    The civilian pays his own way and could be considered a journalist – the other is employed by the police and therefore the taxpayer.

    There are laws in place to stop this kind of thing so we don’t end up with a police state. Things like needing a search warrant. They didn’t have one. End of story.

  55. What hypocrats the green party are. At the time of the theft of emails from the leader of the opposition and the following book and play, you were gleeful of the matter, hoisting Harger is almost staint like status, quoting from the book of hollow men as if it was the bible.

    Now the shoe is on the other foot, and you are screaming to everyone how it is unfair.

  56. Actually I have several times expressed concern about whether or not the Police actions with legitimate. Certainly my latest post was directed at trying to persuade the Government why it was politically sensible to refer it to the PCA, but I have made I think four posts in total on this issue, and all of them pretty sympathetic to the concerns of Rees and not that sympathetic to the Police.

  57. That was what I was wondering… what period hmmmm?
    [ring] [ring]
    Excuse me, got to go!
    [picks up shoe phone]
    “Yes Chief…!”

  58. They were paying him he had to stuff something in there but the real thing they were (probably) after was info leading to (eg) people discussing assassination of JK (as in the police affidavit).

    That would require a remarkble degree of prescience, given that Gilchrist had been spying for police for nearly 10 years – long before John Key was even in Parliament.

  59. idiot/savant Says:
    They were paying him he had to stuff something in there but the real thing they were (probably) after was info leading to (eg) people discussing assassination of JK (as in the police affidavit).

  60. Gerrit – I’ve not said spying is ok by me. I have said there are clear differences in the cases. Do you not see significant differences?
    Loved your juxtaposition after chiding me for ‘playing the man’

    My ‘Get a grip’ .v. your ‘Grow up’ – funny!

    Items of news on TV3 is ‘out of bounds’ for bloggers to comment on? Odd thoughts from you.
    Your question, ‘You either think spying is ok, or you don’t’ leaves me believing that you oppose the actions of the police sponsered spy? Yes?
    ‘Green good, Nat bad’ – odd thing for you to say as my comment said neither about either. (please show me where if I missed it) Are you just making stuff up?

  61. greenfly Says:
    December 18th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    How do you equate years of targeted spying and information relaying,
    Over what period did he nark on the associates(?) of the gun guys?

  62. It gets a lot worse: they spied on unions too.

    I have copies of the emails in question. they deal with completely innocuus activity – pickets, protests, demonsrations and conferences – just ordinary labour disputes in a democratic society. There is not even the slightest suggestion of illegal activity of any sort. If this is a ‘threat to national security”, then I humbly suggest the real threat lies in the paranoids in the police.

  63. I dont accually have a problem with the spying, from my understanding he wasint corrupting party resources or giving away secret policies to the other parties, all he was doing was informing the police of protests and planned illegal actions by certain eco-terrorists.

  64. I’ve yet to see Greenfly come up with an argument deeper than “Green = good, Nat = bad”, but there’s always hope.

    >>Is it ‘reprehensible’ that material that appeared on Three News was repeated here on Frogblog?

    Yes. You either think spying is ok, or you don’t.

  65. greenfly,

    There is no difference between doing it once or a thousand times.

    Targetted spying done once is OK by you, a thousand is not?

    Where do you draw the line? An even 500?

    <blockqoute.Get a grip.

    I see you are still playing the man not the ball. Grow up.

  66. Gerrit – there is a world of difference between the two situations.To try to paste them to the same sheet is disingenuous of you. How do you equate years of targeted spying and information relaying, with a one off, opportunistic taping by a person motivated by his own misgivings about the honesty of a group of professionals. You are drawing a v e r y long bow there.
    Is it ‘reprehensible’ that material that appeared on Three News was repeated here on Frogblog? Get a grip.

  67. Johan,

    I have to agree with you that it is (was) underhanded and morally reprehensable to surruptiously tape private conversations as had happened before the elections. I, at that stage, hoped that the Greens (of which I am a member) had nothing to do with it – I would have been disappointed if we had.

    frog, in this blog, used transcripts from the tapes for point scoring purposes, refering to “secret agendas” etc.

    Is that reprehensible?

    In fact the Greens have used many transcripts from Nicky Hagars novel for electioneering purposes.

    Is that reprehensible?

  68. IceBaby and Gerrit,
    Speaking only for myself, I think the difference here is the use of the resources of the state (not the governing party as such) to spy on the citizens of the country vs one political party spying on another. In so-called third world countries a major issue is the “privatisation” of state resources for use by the governing party/person – e.g use of the army in Zimbabwe to suppress dissent. The state as an entity is meant to represent the interests of all of the inhabitants of the country and should not be seen spying on them.

    I accept that where individuals pose a threat of violence to society the police are entitled to conduct undercover investigations in the course of bringing such persons to justice – the objective is to charge them and prosecute them for offences that can be proven in a court of law.

    I also agree that the spying on the Greens happened during the term of the previous government and it begs the question: who knew about this and who authorised this – or is the police not accountable to any minister for this? – in which case it is time to start worrying.

    Having said that, I have to agree with you that it is (was) underhanded and morally reprehensable to surruptiously tape private conversations as had happened before the elections. I, at that stage, hoped that the Greens (of which I am a member) had nothing to do with it – I would have been disappointed if we had.

  69. Given the “very disturbing activites” brought to an end by police surviellence and then arrests I think it is justified. The Statsi analogy ignores the scale of Statsi activites.
    If Keith Locke had his way we would never have known about the activites in the Ureweras.

  70. Mr key has asked for an explainiation from the police. Surely you should ait until that has been received before climing into a deacle that has more to do with a lovers tiff than unbridled state powers.

    And yes will you be asking a please explain from Helen Clark on whose watch this happened on?

    And like icebaby I can see the similarities between covert taping of National party conference discussions (much lauded by the Greens as perfectly acceptable) and the ALLEDGED actions of a activists.


  71. Under Labour. This occurred under a Labour government, your preferred partners.

    I don’t think groups should be spied on either, unless there is just cause of suspicion of criminal activity. So I support you.

    I think it’s despicable that people, say, go into other parties meetings and record their activities. It’s deceitful and dishonest.

    Where *were* you on such matters, Greens?

  72. Dunno about the “strange bedfellows” thing – you don’t need much political savvy or a particular analysis to understand the dangers of a certain section of the police playing politics.

    However, it is somewhat reassuring to see that the police operation set up to pursue terrorists couldn’t find any and had to spend their budgets chasing political activists instead.

  73. Did I read idiot/savant right?

    Though DPF isn’t concerned with the substance of the issue – he’s simply concerned about how to make it go away.

    Typical sphincter.

    Must .. get … eyes … checked

  74. Frog,
    A salient lesson from Martin Niemoller, a protestant minister in germany during the Nazi era:

    “First they came for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up,
    because I wasn’t a Communist.
    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up,
    because I wasn’t a Jew.
    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn’t speak up,
    because I was a Protestant.
    Then they came for me,
    and by that time there was no one
    left to speak up for me.”
    by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

    We can paraphrase this:
    “First they spied on the communists” etc.

    Yesterday it was activists, today the third largest party in Parliament, tomorrow ?

Comments are closed.