Why are whistleblowers being prosecuted as spies?

Whistleblowers are a ‘check’ on government, corporate or organisational secrecy and malfeasance.

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Chilcot report preview – click to enlarge

I recently read Tim Shipman’s preview of the Chilcot report into the origins of the Tony Blair-led UK engagement in the US’s invasion of Iraq, which looked at the ‘sexed-up dossier’ and manipulation of dodgy so-called intelligence about Sadam Hussein’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Among other things, the report disclosed that Blair’s cabinet wasn’t properly informed or consulted because Blair conducted a ‘sofa style’ of government, where important decisions were made by a small close group, who keep their discussions off the record by excluding official public service record keepers (like the Cabinet Secretary) from recording the inner circle’s decisions, or taking notes.

In other words, decisions about the most serious of issues facing a nation were taken not just in secret, but in an improper undemocratic manner by a craven little cabal. The way the WMD dossier was used, and the stifling of voices who didn’t buy Blair’s spin (e.g. about Sadam being able to launch attacks on the UK in “45 minutes”) or the in David Kelly‘s case, the extinguishment of those skeptical, truth-telling voices should be a lesson to all who seek government accountability.

Whistleblowers, people of conscience, can be like a safety valve. Are they perfect people? No, they’re human and screw up like we all do. But they’re people who speak up, to try to call attention to abuses of power.

No wonder the abusers of power, the holders of dark secrets of illegal actions, and those guilty of misleading their citizens fear them so much.

This video by the ACLU is worth considering, whatever your view of whistleblowers.

9/11 Saudi links. “Let the evidence be seen.”

“Let the evidence be seen.”
Hard to argue with that, but whether a link to the ‘Saudi Government’ can be made seems questionable. The sovereign immunity angle is also messy.

Good on Terry Strada and the other 9/11 families for pushing for legal accountability. It’s their right.

– P

On disagreements among friends

image: hollingerapplebutter.wordpress.com

image: hollingerapplebutter.wordpress.com

Recently in another venue I had occasion to disagree, publicly but in a minor way, with an online friend who’d published an article that I agreed with – mostly, but not entirely.

It’s not the first time that’s happened. Indeed, I’ve said before, in the context of my criticism of my beloved PropertyTalk discussion forum, I can be an uncomfortable friend to have. Sorry.

As an act of discipline, I try to be ready to accommodate people perceiving my own words and actions – no matter how robustly expressed – differently to how I see them.

Sometimes I can appear to see things, or portray them, in black-and-white terms. Even with the abundant qualifiers, modifiers and softeners I deploy to emphasize that I’m only sharing my view of things, my opinion or conclusions based on what I’ve observed, it still comes out pretty harsh sometimes. (Maybe it’s a bit of the Asperger’s or something? Dunno.)

As someone who on occasions issues tough criticisms of other human beings, I know the truth of ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. So is ugliness, eh? I know I’m repeating myself, but I do really try to take this approach: “Oh, good, we see things differently. Let’s discuss this.” (That is, of course, a lot easier when it’s not your spouse ‘differing’ with you.)

So, no big deal, but this friend and I disagreed about an aspect of what she wrote. I frankly misjudged her reaction to me saying so (which, yeah, that happens) and copped a bit of heat back. Bokay. No tears. That also is going to happen.

Let me say the writer is someone I respect and admire for all sorts of solid reasons. She’s also someone who has influenced my thinking about a number of things, I’ve said as much, and she’s still well and truly in the ‘credit’ column as far as I’m concerned. I *think* we’re OK, but it got chilly for a little bit.

Anyway, it got me thinking.  Continue reading →

What is Privacy?

Nice 3 minute overview from Privacy International …

A chilling line: “…Even the fact that you’re watching this video right now. All of it.”
Oh great!

Then read this:
Even basic phone logs can reveal deeply personal information, researchers find | The Guardian

Here’s a link to Privacy International’s website.

– P

A message to Cameron Slater’s enablers – please think again

image: reckontalk.com

image: reckontalk.com

Those who are encouraging and enabling the National Party’s disgraced, now largely abandoned liar and propagandist Cameron Slater in his latest demented hate campaign need to look into the future and see where the road they’re on is leading.

It’s not new for me to say Cameron Slater’s worldview is marked by hot resentment, bitterness, dark fantasy and paranoia. Likewise, how many different ways can I describe him as someone who seems to routinely carry out dishonest, grubby and unethical schemes?

Skim some of the posts under the Cameron Slater ‘tag’ here at The Paepae, particularly the older ones, and you’ll see I formed an opinion fairly slowly, but it  hardened. A tipping point was his protracted campaign of nasty smears against striking port workers, including PUBLISHING PRIVATE INFORMATION LEAKED TO HIM from company personnel files, evidently on behalf of the Ports of Auckland, although this was rather implausibly denied. ‘What a nasty bastard’, I thought at the time. (See: Of bloggers, dogs and fleas. The Ports of Auckland’s ‘ethical and legal breaches’)

In my view, my contempt for Slater Jnr’s actions and modus operandi is pretty solidly based – and based not just on observation of his online and media personas and machinations, but on personal interaction. I’ve talked face to face with him for hours, and we’ve discussed in person some of my criticisms of his actions. What he didn’t disclose in those conversations was the role of Simon Lusk and Carrick Graham and Paul Honnor in funding his PR attack blog, and the extent of paid ghostwritten PR and political “hits” published under his own name. In short, I gave him too much credit.

I also remember a discussion I had with Chris Trotter, a sometime source of gossip for Slater who bestowed on Chris the title ‘Honourable Leftie’. (Some endorsements you really don’t want, eh?) At that stage, Slater was still desperately wanting a way ‘in’ to mainstream media – perhaps a Talkback slot at Radio LIVE, or some such – but his hot vitriol and (we know now) compromised target selection were continually shooting him in the foot. When we talked, Trotter lamented Slater’s wasted ‘potential’ and we agreed his lack of discipline was destroying his attempts at building his credibility, such as it was.

The benefit of the doubt only goes so far

I’m not proud of it, but I’m sorry to say there comes a point where I give up on people. I don’t ‘hate’ them, I just write them off as a lost cause. Sorry.
In this case, I’ve personally come to see Slater Jnr as recidivist liar, an awful hypocrite, a charlatan, and a nasty unscrupulous bully. He is also, as Judith Collins indicated to the Chisholm Inquiry (and the nation) a disappointment and untrustworthy. (Your view may vary, of course.)

But if this post was just another well-founded edition of ‘How Scummy is Cameron Slater? Let me count the ways’, well, ho-hum.  Continue reading →

The toxic mental effects of being in power too long

President Barack Obama tells Jerry Seinfeld ‘world leaders’ who’ve been in power too long lose their judgement.

Interesting that he would say that, eh?

Seinfeld says, meaningfully, “Privilege is toxic.” Yep. I’ve had cause to think that in regard to certain unpickings in New Zealand politics, recently.

 

See the exchange in context in this video of Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: “Just Tell Him You’re The President” (Season 7, Episode 1) on YouTube.

A worthwhile primer on why & how government moves to undermine/ban encryption are so dangerous

Access Now’s Amy Stepanovich just delivered this useful overview of the important issues around the latest moves in The Crypto Wars.

And this article, by Mark Wilson at betanews.com re President Obama effectively backing backdoors, is instructive (if a disappointment).

Privacy and security killer: Obama supports backdoors to bypass encryption

“If technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there is no key, there’s no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer, how do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?” he wondered aloud, his almost rhetorical question playing neatly on two of America’s biggest fears. He suggested that security keys should be made available to third parties, saying “you cannot take an absolutist view” when it comes to balancing security and privacy. But Obama has a solution: backdoors.

Obama avoided talking directly about the Apple/FBI case, but it hung heavy in the air nonetheless. So what is his solution to the issue of encryption standing in the way of government being able to access whatever it wants? The out-going president’s answer to the problem is far from fleshed out, and far from being a solution that anyone in their right mind would find agreeable. Addressing the SXSW audience, he said:

What mechanisms do we have available to even do simple things like tax enforcement because if in fact you can’t crack that at all, government can’t get in, then everybody is walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket.

While Obama says that he backs the notion of strong systems of encryption, he said that for issues that were agreed to be important (by whom he did not make clear) it should be possible for the security key to be made available to “smallest number of people possible”. A backdoor by any other name.

He said:
There has to be some concession to the need to be able to get to that information somehow.

Dress it up any way you like, but Obama is suggesting that backdoors should be implemented.

Strange fixations. What Judith Collins told the Chisholm Inquiry – Part 2

Sharon Murdoch's cartoon from Judith Collins' first period of elevation to cabinet minister bears repeating. Read on and you'll see why.

Sharon Murdoch’s cartoon from Judith Collins’ first period of elevation to cabinet minister bears repeating. Read on and you’ll see why. (click to enlarge)

To recap:

We’re working our way through a tranche of witness transcripts and other evidence which was part of the proceedings of the Chisholm inquiry.

Previous posts on this topic have been:

 

 

 

 

More to come.


Mrs Collins in the witness box

Judith Collins’ time as a witness under examination at the Chisholm inquiry into ‘Allegations concerning the Honourable Judith Collins and a former Director of the Serious Fraud Office’ began at 10:25 am on 29 October 2014 and concluded at 6:01 pm that same day.

The redacted transcript makes interesting reading. You can download the whole 145 page document here (PDF 10 MB) along with her 19 page affidavit and other documents linked to her testimony at the foot of this previous post.

Reading Mrs Collins’ transcript, a few thoughts struck me … let’s look at some extracts.

“I woke up this morning…”

As noted in an earlier post, one of the ‘surprises’ Lester Chisholm was confronted with was a one-sided lack of records between Slater Jnr and Judith Collins, despite the fact they both reported that they “phoned each other often”.

From reading the discussions between Chisholm and Mrs Collins’s lawyer Francis Cooke, it seems clear –or at least likely– that Mrs Collins was asked if she could offer any explanation for this lacuna. (Lawyers love this word which simply means an ‘unfilled space, gap, or missing portion’ – in this case in the documented narrative.)

03 collins transcript page 8

“My friend told me there’s a way …”

I found Mrs Collins’ suggested ‘explanation’ on page 8 of her witness transcript interesting.
Continue reading →

The oily old gang is getting together again

Amusing that after this John Palino (a) thought he might stand for Auckland mayor again, (b) thought he would be able to brush off the unanswered questions about the last election, (c) is apparently working with the Dirty Politics gang of smear artists.

Rod Emmerson sees the funny side too.

Rod Emmerson sees the funny side too. Left to right: John Palino, Cameron Slater, Simon Lusk, Carrick Graham.

If there’s some Simon Lusk-esque ‘humiliation’ going on, so far it’s John Palino who is wearing it. Oh dear.

The escape of exnzpat, Part 32

Obligations and choice

 

It took Mia ten minutes to make her way to the three blue silos and coming up to them she looked for another pattern to take her onward to safety.  A stabbing pain had formed in her arms and chest, but she knew she could not yet rest, and so she continued to search for clues.  The piebald horse had given her time and she needed to use it.

Lifting heavy feet she came into the center of the three silos and saw the place abandoned.  The whole of it was stale with disuse.  A dirt road led off into the cornfields beyond and a small wooden hut with its door ajar and its roof partially collapsed, sat broken beside the largest of the three silos.  Behind the hut, a tractor, broken, tired, and long discarded with untidy crops of grass hiding its wheels sat with its four tires punctured and melting into the dirt:  the thing had been dead in the ground for years. Continue reading →

RIP David Bowie

I actually, literally staggered when I was told yesterday that David Bowie had died.
‘Have you heard about David Bowie?’ someone asked me.
‘What? About his new album?’ I replied … then what a crash.

Bowie was a hero to me, an artist whose influence was enormous in my life. I have written about him for print and here on this blog (see: ‘David Bowie’s influence on acceptance of gay ‘lifestyle’‘ and read the comments). I’m not gay, but Bowie’s art, his unmistakable voice and his plainly evident intellect and adventurism stretched my teenage consciousness. He made it ‘OK’, acceptable. Bowie’s visibility confronted anti-gay bigotry and his example stirred and broadened the social membrane – even in little ol’ Wellington New Zealand. As I disclosed in that earlier post, I worried about him. About his health.

Peter-with-Bowie-album-25

Me with Bowie’s album Aladdin Sane. (Like, when it was new.) Consciousness-expanding.

I know this will sound indulgent, and I apologise. Sorry, but I am partly the person I am because I identified with David Bowie’s personas, and in a way travelled with him as a fan on the musical journeys he took.

I’ve overcome my personal embarrassment to reproduce here a family snapshot of me aged about 14 or 15 in my mate Wayne’s backyard … listening to my precious David Bowie albums (loud) which was a statement in the early 70s, let me tell you. Of course, later, with Let’s Dance, he would become a mainstream superstar. But early on, nah, we saw ourselves and were seen as edgy and dubious outsiders, probably headed to Hell for liking him.

Farewell David Jones, who became Bowie, then Ziggy, then the Thin White Duke, then a legend. And thank you.

What an impact. What a life he lived.

– P

What Judith Collins told the Chisholm inquiry – part 1

Judith Collins after her swearing in as (reinstated) Police and Corrections Minsters, December 2015 Photo by Mark Mitchell NZ Herald.

Judith Collins after her swearing in as (reinstated) Police and Corrections Minsters, December 2015 Photo by Mark Mitchell NZ Herald.

Let’s be perfectly clear about it – Judith Collins was fighting for her political life at the Chisholm inquiry into  ‘Allegations regarding the Honourble Judith Collins and a former Director of the Serious Fraud Office’.

That a serving Justice minister should be forced to resign (she says she offered, but let’s face it, that’s what John Key telephoned her to say. ‘Clear my name’ motivation notwithstanding, it seems pretty clear she was given the options: stand down or be stood down); then find herself under inquisition in front of a retired judge, with her integrity and good judgement being examined for consistency with written records; required to surrender her electronic devices for cloning, to supply her passwords for email and social media accounts (the contents of these were, at least, brokered through KPMG for ‘relevance’ to the inquiry’s terms of reference); then peppered with questions by a smart lawyer, Victoria Casey, trained to locate and explore inconsistencies in her ‘story’ – well, it must have been a nightmare.

As a former lawyer (she retains a practicing certificate, she declared to the inquiry in the third sentence of her affidavit) who had been involved with her local law society, she would be aware of the endless parade of evidence presented to disciplinary committees demonstrating that lawyers can and frequently do fail a ‘fit and proper person’ standard — in similar proportions to, say, real estate agents. If not worse.

Add to that the stress of not knowing what else her ‘family friend’/needy puppy/febrile blowhard Cameron Slater had blabbed to his mates and his paymasters (shudder); and, of course, the icy chill of the terrible thought (paraphrased): “OMG! What have I ever said (or emailed, or Facebook-messaged etc etc) to that clown that might come back to bite me on the bum now?”
Continue reading →

The scariest sentence in the English language (and ‘stolen data’)

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click to enlarge

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Yeah, that’s an oldie but a goodie. Let me use that as an introduction (well, I just did, thanks) to news revealed by the New Zealand Government.

It’s in a very nicely laid out booklet called ‘National Plan to Address Cybercrime’ (right); with a tagline: ‘Improving our ability to prevent, investigate and respond to cybercrime’; and a vision statement: ‘A secure, resilient and prosperous online New Zealand’ (getting the picture yet? It’s all thrillingly super-positive stuff.)

Now it is par for the course when discussing ‘computer crime’ to go to the extremes, child exploitation imagery, sabotage/hacking, money laundering for ‘criminal or terrorist groups’ and use those bogeymen as justifications for surveillance and ‘covert work’ … as well as privacy intrusions such as NZ Customs officers scooping the data off people’s phones at the border. (Oh, did you think I was making that up? Nope. See Tony Wall’s article at Stuff.co.nz: ‘Customs secretly copy data from cellphone’ – and archived here as PDF.)

I mean, who would speak up in defence of sick paedophiles, violent terrorists or dirty rat criminals? Gosh, hardly anyone. So, perhaps those extremes and that mindset (‘it’s all about protecting the kids’) informs this thinking out loud, from  pages 11-12: Continue reading →

Hager search warrant deemed “fundamentally unlawful”. What a relief!

Clifford_judgment-FLIt appears Judge Clifford was not amused nor mollified by the weasel words of the police and their post-facto legal enablers trying to portray their 10-hour full-spectrum fishing expedition at investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s house as somehow ‘OK’.

You can read Clifford’s High Court judgement in full (as I did last night) here:
Hager v Attorney General (PDF 500K)

That police failed in their ‘Duty of candour’ in this case doesn’t surprise me. I hope Judge Ida Malosi, who issued the “fundamentally unlawful” search warrant (which I posted here) gives the Manukau CIB crew a dressing down for (what’s the nicest way to say this?) improperly briefing her. I expect she will, at least, approach the police with more scepticism, and demand more detail, ask some hard questions, from now on. (After all, it’s not a good look for Judge Malosi, is it? Having a judicial document struck down like that.)

The evidence presented to Judge Clifford that police officers also bungled their duty while actually carrying out the intrusive search to apply proper controls and discipline – not just in their treatment of a claim of privilege – is, frankly, appalling.
Continue reading →

Emmerson on Judith Collins rejoining John Key’s Cabinet

Priceless. I love the detail on her tatoos: Oravida and Slater Jnr’s toxic brand. Wow.

Rod Emmerson is so good. (click to enlarge)

Rod Emmerson is so good. (click to enlarge)