A backpacker coming home for Christmas had every bit of electronic equipment stripped from him at the airport.
A Customs officer at Auckland International Airport took law graduate Sam Blackman’s two smartphones, iPad, an external hard drive and laptop – and demanded his passwords.
Mr Blackman, 27, who was breaking up travelling with his journalist fiance Imogen Crispe for a month back in New Zealand for Christmas, was initially given no reason why the gear was taken.
The only possibility of why it occurred was his attendance – and tweeting – of a London meeting on mass surveillance sparked by the Snowden revelations, he said.
However, a Customs official has since told him they were searching everything for objectionable material under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.
Mr Blackman said he did not have anything of that nature and could not understand why he had been targeted.
Mr Blackman arrived in Auckland at 5.30am on a flight from Heathrow, travelling through San Francisco.
He declared loose-leaf tea he was carrying as he came through Customs and believed that was responsible for the extensive bag search to which he was subjected.
“He said ‘we’re not worried about the tea’,” Mr Blackman said of the Customs’ official.
The official then returned to going through the bag, pulling out electronic equipment as he did so. “We’re going to have to detain this,” Mr Blackman said he was told. “We’re going to have to send this to a forensic investigator.”
Mr Blackman said when he pulled a phone out of his pocket, the official also took that, refusing permission for him to call his parents who were waiting in the arrival lounge.
He said he was also told to provide passwords for the equipment. “That is a real invasion of privacy.”
One of the phones had no password but required a design to be traced on the screen. The official was unconcerned and said the forensic team would defeat security to access the device, Mr Blackman claimed.
He said he asked why the items were being confiscated and the official refused to say – or to say how long the items would be kept.
Earlier, Mr Blackman said he thought it may have occurred because of his attendance at the London meeting on mass surveillance.
In November, Mr Blackman and Ms Crispe attended a meeting at the Royal Institute of British Architects attended by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, MPs from across Europe, and spokespeople from groups opposing spying.
A Customs’ spokeswoman refused to discuss Mr Blackman’s case. She said passengers considered “high risk”received attention at the airport. She also said Customs officials were required to have “reasonable cause”to believe an offence had been committed.
“Information or data may be used as evidence of an offence or may be a prohibited item such as objectionable images.”
TechLiberty director Thomas Beagle said the seizure of phones and laptops was a “major interference in your life”in the modern world.
He said Customs law had a pre-digital focus which, when applied to the technical age, did not take into account the amount of personal information or the frequency of use.
“What does this mean for other people? You really have to consider what you take over the border.”
Mr Beagle said his understanding of the law was that travellers did not have to surrender their passwords.
However, he said it meant it was likely the device of interest would then not be allowed into the country.
An open letter to Kathryn Ryan
National Radio is widely regarded by intelligent, educated citizens as a treasure, to be protected at all costs against cheap commercialization. Coverage of contentious topics such as global warming by radio talkback hosts is invariably slanted and superficial, to the point where it is a moot question as to whether it constitutes journalism at all.
It was therefore a great disappointment that the interview you conducted with Dr. Simon Pollard on Wednesday November 20th fell far short of the high journalistic standards one has come to expect of National Radio.
The interview was entitled “Science with Simon Pollard”, but where was the science? As a retired science teacher I would have expected some presentation of evidence for the assertions made. In that way, listeners could use their brains to come to their own conclusions — rather than have their thinking done for them — as is so often the case in the corporately owned mass media.
But no. Dr. Pollard made a number of statements that positively invited cross-examination, but instead you uncritically agreed with him. Although Dr. Pollard’s comments related mainly to the Kennedy assassination, he did make a number of references to 911 — about which I know quite a lot. The tone of his comments was disparaging and condescending, and to those of us who have researched 911 in depth, they were insulting.
At this stage, I hope it is simply the case that you have been guilty of nothing more than uncritically accepting the explanation put out by the corporate media. In this respect, I was taken in too, until my son showed me his copy of The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin. The Foreword caught my attention because it was by Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. It seemed to me that the book he was endorsing was at least worth a second look, so I began to read. In book, Prof. Griffin presents detailed evidence that the official explanation for the events of 911 cannot be true. His nine later books add even more evidence, all of it in the public domain and fully referenced.
Professor Griffin is but one of a large number of academics and other professionals round the world, who have called for a new and independent inquiry (Phillip Zelikow, who ran the 911 Commission Inquiry, was closely linked to the White House). I’m sure you’d agree that people in such high positions are unlikely to be crackpots. Therefore, we should at least pay attention to what they have to say, rather than uncritically accepting put-downs by an arachnologist. In the spirit of the scientific method, we should study the evidence for ourselves.
In dismissing those who are skeptical of the official explanation for 911, Dr. Pollard used the put-down term ‘conspiracy theorist’, a term that was first introduced into the public lexicon by the CIA after doubts were raised about the Warren Commission Report into the Kennedy assassination.
A democracy can only survive if its citizens are informed and, above all, free to question government accounts of events. A fundamental prerequisite for this is the existence of untrammelled, independent media. For National Radio to fulfill this requirement, intelligent listeners who present reasoned argument against orthodoxy should not be dismissed without giving them an opportunity to present evidence in support of their concerns.
There is another aspect to this, which may not have occurred to you. There are people in the National and Act parties who are itching to privatize National Radio. This would be a tragedy, for we would then have descended to the same level as characterizes commercial broadcasting in the United States. If the extinction of quality, independent radio does loom, we can be sure that the strongest argument will come from those who fear that the treatment of political issues will be limited to sound bites by ‘talking heads’. As Noam Chomsky famously said:
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum”.
I hope that your interview with Simon Pollard is not an indication that we have already arrived at such a state of affairs without the assistance of the National Government.
Martin Hanson, retired science teacher
Colin Craig not sure man walked on moon
NBR Staff | Wednesday December 04, 2013
The leader of New Zealand’s fastest-rising political party, Colin Craig, says he’s not sure man walked on the moon and hasn’t even ruled out conspiracy theories about the 2011 terrorist attacks in the United States.
On a radio show this morning, Mr Craig says he doesn’t have time to look into these matters and it’s not a priority for him – his priorities are making sure New Zealanders have jobs, houses and can succeed.
Less than a year out from a general election, and with National’s coalition partners ACT and United Future having their own issues, the Conservatives are being touted as a potential coalition partner for Prime Minister John Key’s party.
Read full article here
Simon Pollard is Adjunct Professor in Science Communication at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. He is a specialist on spiders, and previously he was Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at Canterbury Museum. He is an award-winning natural history photographer and writer. He is an advisor, scriptwriter and presenter of a natural history documentaries, including the BBC series Planet Earth.
On Wednesday 20th November he was interviewed about ‘conspiracy theories’ on New Zealand National Radio programme Nine-to-Noon by Kathryn Ryan under the title: “Science with Simon Pollard”.
An Open Letter to Simon Pollard
by Martin Hanson, retired science teacher
Following your interview with Kathryn Ryan on Nine-to-Noon, I wrote to you to express my disappointment at your casual dismissal of those people who do not believe that The 911 Commission Report is a truthful account of what happened in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11th 2001. Your unwillingness to reply itself constitutes a kind of reply – that you are unwilling to engage in an academic debate.
Insouciant dismissal of serious academic matters may satisfy some Nine-to-Noon listeners, but for an increasingly skeptical and thoughtful public, it won’t wash. Even an arachnologist must know that gravity acts strictly downward! The photo of the collapse of Tower 1 in the World Trade Center proves that powerful lateral forces were at work in the ‘collapse’ of the towers. Given that over 100 eye-witnesses testified to explosions on that day, your silence speaks eloquently for your position on the issue.
Although some conspiracy theories are just plain silly, it’s important to point out that a conspiracy is nothing more than a process in which two or more people get together in secret to achieve an illegal or immoral end. Conspiracies are actually very common, but in popular use the term ‘conspiracy theory’ has come to take on a strongly pejorative connotation. The term was deliberately introduced into the popular lexicon by the CIA in an attempt to counter suggestions that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone but was part of a larger conspiracy. Since then, and especially after 911, it has been systematically used by the media as a put-down to stifle any consideration of evidence.
Having said that, I have to agree with you that the term ‘conspiracy theorist’ is justifiably disparaging. I have personal knowledge of several individuals who seem to have a deep psychological need to distrust authority and consequently look for conspiracies even when they do not exist.
One who has achieved internet fame is Alex Jones who, in proclaiming that Global Warming is a conspiracy, makes the very idea of ‘conspiracy’ disreputable in the public mind. When such scientific ignoramuses also happen to believe that 911 was an ‘inside job’, it is only too easy to discredit the latter views by tainting them by association with the former.
The Heartland Institute used this tactic by putting up a billboard in Chicago featuring Ted Kaczynski, otherwise known as the Unabomber. Alongside Kaczynski’s mugshot were the words: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” The intention was to put up similar billboards featuring Charles Manson and Fidel Castro, both of whom may have had related beliefs, but the scheme was cancelled before it could get airborne.
As you know, science is an activity of organized inquiry into natural phenomena, in which observations provoke questions, which lead to hypotheses that can be tested by experiment and further observation.
Beliefs that are not accessible to observation and experiment do not fall within the purview of science. Bertrand Russell famously said that he couldn’t prove that there wasn’t a teapot going round the sun between the orbits of Earth and Mars, but no sane person would use this as an argument for its existence.
Unlike Russell’s celestial teapot, the evidence surrounding the events of 911 is an embarrassment of riches, even for the most square-eyed troglodyte whose window on the world is limited to Fox News or The Sun newspaper. The trouble is, the most significant news items appeared for only a very short time after 911 and were soon buried and forgotten by the vast majority of the public.
The media have gone to great lengths to exclude from the public consciousness any evidence that is inconsistent with the official account. Truckloads of evidence have been published in many documentaries and books (I have over 25 on my own shelves). Almost none of these have been mentioned, let alone reviewed, by the media —except to condemn without mentioning any of the evidence they adduce. Amongst the most powerful are The New Pearl Harbor, and nine other books by Professor David Ray Griffin.
I realize that you might well say that thousands of nutty books have been published on innumerable subjects, so the credibility of a case can’t be measured by the number of books written about it. You’d be right, but what you can’t dismiss as conspiracy fantasy is the fact that literally thousands of professors and other academics and professional people round the world have called for a new and genuinely independent inquiry. There are now over a dozen organizations calling for such an inquiry, for example:
- U.S. Military Officers for 9/11 Truth http://www.militaryofficersfor911truth.org/
- Actors and Artists for 9/11 Truth http://actorsandartistsfor911truth.org/
- Scientists for 9/11 Truth http://scientistsfor911truth.org/
- Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (2100 signatories at latest count) http://ae911truth.org/
- Firefighters for 9/11 Truth http://firefightersfor911truth.org/
- Intelligence Officers for 9/11 Truth http://io911truth.com/
- Pilots for 9/11 Truth http://www.pilotsfor911truth.org/
- Journalists and Other Media Professionals for 9/11 Truth http://www.mediafor911truth.org/
- Medical Professionals for 9/11 Truth http://mp911truth.org/
- Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth http://pl911truth.com/
- Lawyers for 9/11 Truth http://www.l911t.com/
- Veterans for 9/11 Truth http://www.v911t.org/
- Scholars for 9/11 Truth http://stj911.org/
In addition to these organizations and their thousands of supporters, a number of highly distinguished individuals with impeccable intellectual credentials have publicly doubted the official story. To mention just a few:
- Richard Falk, Emeritus Professor of International Law at Princeton University
- Michael Meacher, ex British Cabinet Minister http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkvjvmNPYs0
- Andreas von Bülow, ex German Governnment Minister
- Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal.
- Ferdinando Imposimato, honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy, and former Senior Investigative Judge, Italy.
I think you’d agree that it is highly unlikely that people in such high positions are crackpots. Therefore, we should at least pay attention to what they have to say, rather than uncritically accepting media put-downs. In the spirit of the scientific method, we should study the evidence for ourselves.
The trouble is that the evidence is so mountainous that I must limit myself to listing the topics, leaving it to you to look into the details. So, here they are:
1. Video evidence, for example the video analysis of collapse of the WTC towers, by physicist David Chandler:
North Tower Exploding http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgN080yySe0
WTC7 Freefall: No longer controversial (revised): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVCDpL4Ax7I
Also the video Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddz2mw2vaEg
2. Planted Evidence The most egregious (and laughable) of numerous examples: ABC News and the Associated Press reported that the virtually undamaged passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami was found a few blocks from the WTC.
3. Destruction and Confiscation of Evidence
Immediately after 911 nearly all the steel was hurriedly exported to Asia, thus preventing forensic examination of the steelwork. Thus the biggest crime in U.S. history was made an exception to the Federal law that forbids interference with a crime scene.
Within 5 minutes of the attack on the Pentagon, FBI agents confiscated videotapes from the nearby Sheraton National Hotel and Citco Gas Station http://www.911hardfacts.com/report_15.htm .
Immediately after the Pentagon attack, Federal agents removed many small fragments from the lawn in front of the Pentagon, and later the lawn was covered with sand.
4. Withholding of Evidence
After 911, the New York Fire Department interviewed firefighters, paramedics and other first responders. Of the 503 interviewees, 118 reported hearing or seeing explosions prior to and during the collapse of the Twin Towers. These ‘oral histories’ were suppressed by the New York authorities until forced by court action to release them.
Though the Pentagon is the most heavily surveilled building in the whole of the United States, only 5 frames of a video camera were released – despite the presence of dozens of (reportedly 83) video cameras.
5. Almost complete absence of Aircraft wreckage at both the Pentagon (Flight 77) and Shanksville (Flight 93) crash sites –in contrast to all other terrestrial aircraft sites, where bodies, aircraft wreckage, luggage, etc are the norm (though an unsinged Shia bandana was reportedly found!).
6. Guilty Behaviour by the White House.
The Bush Administration was deeply unwilling to hold an inquiry into the biggest crime in American history, and only after intense pressure (and over 400 days after the event) did they agree. And then, they allotted initially only $3 million (in contrast to the $50 million given to the Challenger Inquiry).
After it was set up, the 911 Commission was overseen by Phillip Zelikow, who had been a close colleague of Condoleezza Rice, and was thus for all practical purposes a White House insider. Zelikow decided what witnesses would be heard and what would be in the Report.
As documented in Philip Shenon’s book The Commission, Zelikow had written the outline of the Report before the hearings began, and during the hearings he was in telephone contact with Carl Rove, Senior Adviser and Assistant to President Bush). So much for the ‘independence’ of the 911 Commission of Inquiry!
When Bush and Cheney were interviewed by the Commission, they did not appear under oath, meaning that they did not have to tell the truth.
Much of the evidence provided by CIA interrogation of al-Qaida suspects was based on torture. Commissioners were not allowed to interview suspects, or even their CIA interrogators. Taped evidence of interrogations had been destroyed.
Insider Trading In the days prior to 911, there was a burst of highly unusual trading on the stock market, giving strong indication of foreknowledge. http://911research.wtc7.net/sept11/stockputs.html
‘Dancing Israelis’ The New York Times reported that five men had set up video cameras prior to the New York attack and had filmed the collapse of the towers. http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/fiveisraelis.html Later, these men were interviewed on Israeli television and said that they were there to ‘document’ the event.
Rudi Guliani, Mayor of New York at the time of the attacks, said in TV interview that the Twin Towers were likely to collapse. In view of the fact that no steel-framed building had collapsed due to fire anywhere in the world, this seemed like foreknowledge.
8. Prior examples of false flag operations
Those who baulk at the suggestion that elements within a ‘democratic’ government could organize attacks on its own people to provide the excuse to attack another country need look no further than ‘Operation Northwoods’, details of which were later de-classified. Operation Northwoods was a plan put forward by General Lemnitzer and other military top brass in 1962. The proposal involved a series of ‘false flag’ operations in which U.S. citizens would have been killed in simulated terrorist attacks to provide justification to invade Cuba. President Kennedy rejected the proposal. ‘Operation Northwoods’ is but one of many historical examples of false flag operations, the best-known being the Reichstag Fire, started by the Nazis and blamed on the communists in order to justify the passing of the Enabling Act that destroyed any freedoms under the old Weimar Republic. The passing of the ‘Patriot Act’ shortly after 911 was an uncanny parallel. The Patriot Act effectively shredded many citizens’ rights previously guaranteed under the Constitution. As Mark Twain said, “history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme”.
A democracy can only survive if its citizens are informed and free to question their government, for which a fundamental prerequisite is the existence of untrammeled, independent media. If New Zealand democracy has friends like you and Radio New Zealand, who needs enemies?
5:30 AM Friday Aug 23, 2013
There are many reasons for concern about the GCSB Bill that has just passed into law, but one we might not have expected is the extent to which the Prime Minister seems unaware of its true implications.
It must surely have come as a shock, even to his supporters, that John Key seems not to understand some of the basic principles of democratic government. In particular, he seemed to see no distinction between his own personal assurances and the law of the land.
The great principle of English common law is that no man, “be ye ever so high”, is above the law. The great Chief Justice Edmund Coke would have made short shrift of any pretension that a mere politician could decide what was and was not the law by his mere say-so.
Yet that is what our Prime Minister apparently presumes to do. In assurances given in a television interview, he asked citizens to accept his word as to his intentions concerning the new power to intercept our communications that the security service he heads was about to have conferred upon it.
Read article here
July 20, 2013
This Thursday 25th July, 7pm at Mt Albert War Memorial Hall (Cnr New North Road and Wairere Ave)
■Dr Rodney Harrison QC – who presented the Law Society submission to select committee
■Kim Dotcom – the most high profile victim of illegal GCSB spying
■Thomas Beagle – from Tech Liberty – concerned with civil liberties online
The government is due to report the bill back to parliament late this week so this meeting comes at a critical time.
Please share and spread the word quickly.
Auckland Action on National Day of Action against the bill – Saturday 27th July. Gather at Aotea Square, 2pm.
STOP THE GCSB BILL – NATIONWIDE PROTESTS SATURDAY JULY 27
On the 27th of July, 2013 there will be a nation wide protest taking place in regards to the GCSB and TICS bills. All those taking part feel these bills are a huge injustice and violation of our basic human rights. Groups in at least 7 centers are gearing up to march in protest of this scandalous erosion of privacy granted us in the NZ Bill of Rights Act. The protest is being organised by the Stop The GCSB Bill community and its over 11’000 supporters and counting and the vast majority of kiwis that understand the bill goes too far and we need to seriously re-examine the role, power and scope of our espionage agencies.
This government refuses to accept the advice of the NZ Law Society, the Human Rights Commission and such notable figures such as Dame Anne Salmond. On Saturday, July 27th, the New Zealand Public add their voices to those experts in telling this government that this legislation does not represent the New Zealand Spirit.
In 1984, a pertinent year to this legislation, the New Zealand government stood up against Nuclear proliferation and opposed irrational fear. Today we need to do the same and let cooler heads rule, and hold on to our privacy against the irrational fear of terrorism that this government keeps citing. We are busy in our lives, looking after the kids, getting the groceries in and earning a living. We shouldn’t have to put anything on hold to say no, because the people we elect should be acting in our interests to begin with. This is a spontaneous movement for every New Zealander and all are encouraged and welcome to make a stand.
We will represent the nation, but the public can also represent themselves. Bring your banners, your placards, yourselves and your friends and family. This is a family friendly, peaceful protest.
Auckland – Aotea Square – 2pm-4pm
Hamilton – Garden Place – 2pm-4pm
Napier – Memorial Square – 2pm-4pm
Wellington – Cuba St Bucket Fountain (2pm) then march to The Beehive (3pm) for speakers – 2pm-4pm.
Nelson – iSite, Halifax St – 2pm-4pm
Christchurch – Bridge of Remembrance – 2pm-4pm
Dunedin – The Octagon – 2pm-4pm
US spy device ‘tested on NZ public’
By David Fisher @@DFisherJourno
5:30 AM Saturday May 25, 2013
A high-tech United States surveillance tool which sweeps up all communications without a warrant was sent to New Zealand for testing on the public, according to an espionage expert.
The tool was called ThinThread and it worked by automatically intercepting phone, email and internet information.
ThinThread was highly valued by those who created it because it could handle massive amounts of intercepted information. It then used snippets of data to automatically build a detailed picture of targets, their contacts and their habits for the spy organisation using it.
Those organisations were likely to include the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) after Washington, DC-based author Tim Shorrock revealed ThinThread was sent to New Zealand for testing in 2000-2001.
Read article here
Media academic warns over digital surveillance, seeks new ethical model
Report – By Anna Majavu
A leading journalism academic has voiced concern at the high levels of digital surveillance facing journalists today and has urged journalists to adopt a new ethical model of reporting for social good.
Dr Mark Pearson, professor of journalism and social media at Griffith University in Australia and the Australian correspondent for Reporters Without Borders, spoke last night at the inaugural UNESCO World Press Freedom Day 2013 lecture, organised by AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.
The lack of press freedom in the Asia-Pacific region was well documented with media in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Fiji needing government licences to operate, and journalists in Malaysia facing 53-year-old “internal security” laws under which they could be detained for long periods for “prejudicing national security”.
But Professor Pearson said his concerns were not limited to these cases, and that his major worry was the “ever-increasing government regulation of media and social media everywhere”, including the anti-terror laws introduced all over the world since 9/11, modelled on the US Patriot Act.
These laws “typically give intelligence agencies unprecedented powers to monitor the communications of all citizens. There is also an inordinate level of surveillance, logging and tracking technologies in use in the private sector – often held in computer clouds or multinational corporate servers in jurisdictions subject to search and seizure powers of foreign governments” said Dr Pearson.
This had disturbing implications for journalists’ protection of their confidential sources, especially if these sources were government or corporate “whistleblowers”, Dr Pearson added.
Investigative reporters today potentially had to contend with geo-locational tracking of their phones and vehicles, tollpoint capture of their motorway entry and exit, easily accessible phone, email and social media records, CCTV in private and public places, and facial recognition in other people’s images, perhaps posted to Facebook.
Britain and New Zealand are creating an alliance to defend the internet and cyberspace, the two countries foreign ministers announced in Auckland today.
“We will work closely together, and with our key allies to coordinate responses to incidents affecting our government and private sector networks,” Foreign Minister Murray McCully and British Foreign Secretary William Hague told a joint press conference.
McCully said it was the first time ever that the same British foreign secretary had made two visits to New Zealand, while Hague said he was going to Christchurch tomorrow to visit the “red zone” because “that is what friends do”.
Hague touted a new super-cyber security organisation he wants to create known as the Global Cyber Security Capacity Building Centre.
It would look at using skills internationally with the two men stressing that their governments had agreed to work closely, and with allies, on developing a vision for the future security of cyberspace, which they termed “one of the greatest national, global and strategic challenges of our time”.
Cyber intrusions were an increasing challenge.
“New Zealand and the United Kingdom are already working closely together to confront the growing threats to our cyber security, and it is vital to our wider, shared economic, security and defence interests that we do so.”
The two said they did not under-estimate the challenge of working on an international consensus on how to protect the internet.
They will also “share situational awareness information and intelligence” so both countries can detect and respond to “foreign cyber intrusions on networks of national importance.”